I don't even think it's close.
I take history very seriously, have studied it closely, and I am not given to hyperbole (as awful as George W. Bush was, for example, I still hesitate to join the many historians who call him the worst President ever, because James Buchanan was truly horrendous). But with Teddy Kennedy, I don't think there is much debate.
There were other Senators who served a very long time and have many notable achievements to their credit. There were others whose oratory and personality dominated the Senate chamber for awhile. There were others who were held in great esteem by their Senate colleagues. There were others who became a recognizable face as a representative of Senate traditions and honor. But no one in all of America's great history combined all of these things with getting more tangible things that mattered accomplished for the American people.
On issue after issue, Ted Kennedy was at the center of the debate, and he delivered one great piece of legislation after another to all of us. There was not a single significant issue that he didn't play an important role on in the past 45 years.
It saddens me beyond words that he passed before seeing health care reform finally get passed, as it had become the great passion of his life. I hope we can finally get it done for him now.