There are giants who walk among ordinary men. Ted Kennedy was one such giant and would be the first to remind us of something his brother Jack once said: "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."
This is not news nor a headline. This is reality. And for the past 10 years (ages 14 to 24), I have faced the loss of young children and young adults after their own battles with cancer. Many of these individuals were very close to me.
America has had a few precious individuals who are both passionate about social justice and also understand deep in their bones its practical meaning. And we have had a few who possess great political shrewdness and can make the clunky machinery of democratic governance actually work. But I have known but one person who combined all these traits and abilities. His passing is an inestimable loss.
Senator Kennedy's political franchise had no rival in the legislative branch of government, and the younger brother of the Kennedy political trio may very well have been the very best "Executive Legislator" this country has ever seen.
As a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name-calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.
Teddy never did endorse Senator Dodd for president, and I can't imagine how that may have hurt him. If it did, he never showed it to his staff -- and so people like me who worked for Dodd briefly bore a grudge that our boss would not.
With the de facto passing of the Kennedy's in politics, we have truly reached the end of an era. What comes next, it seems, is an age in which the operative question has changed. It is now: what can America do for me?
Since news organizations tend to be short-staffed overnight, it is particularly interesting to compare the prominent points that different sites highlighted in their initial depictions of Sen. Kennedy's life and career.
You knew what to expect from Teddy. Personally, his life was often a mess, but politically, he was rock solid. He stood for something. As MSNBC put it, he was the last unreconstructed liberal in the Senate.
He was a terrific campaigner, as I witnessed first hand in several campaigns, including my own father's campaign for Congress in Connecticut in 1972, when Ted made a special point of speaking on my father's behalf to an enthusiastic audience of shipworkers in Norwich.
After the 2004 election when Democrats were accused of losing the "moral values voters", the first Democrat to call me to talk about that accusation and how to change the moral debate in America was Ted Kennedy.