Few living people have been as famous for as long as Teddy Kennedy. For most of my sentient life, Teddy has been striving, partying, running, and representing the long tail of the Kennedy legacy. I remember Chappaquiddick (when I was 16) better than the moon landing -- two events that coincided 40 years ago. I remember thinking, in spite of Chappaquiddick, that Teddy Kennedy was the last best hope for...well, I suppose the 1960s. I covered Teddy's strangely chaotic and tongue-tied presidential run in 1980 for Life magazine. I enjoyed a decade of nearly non-stop insider sex gossip about Teddy in the 1980s (everybody in politics and media had a story -- many stories). From the gallery of the Clinton impeachment, in 1998, I couldn't keep my eyes off of the riveting spectacle of a massive -- I mean barely-able-to-walk massive -- Teddy Kennedy wobbling on the floor of the Senate chamber.
Still, after so long, I can't say I have much of a clear sense of the man. I couldn't tell you if he was stupid or smart. More a serious legislator or more an attention-deficit glamor boy. A man who shouldered heroic family burdens or one who added to the dysfunctions of a mythically dysfunctional family (he was in on, if not encouraging, the heavy drinking that proceeded his nephew William Kennedy Smith's famous rape charge in Palm Beach, in 1991). A humanitarian or a sexual harasser.
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