President Barack Obama eulogized Senator Ted Kennedy yesterday at the Mission Church in Boston. After a lengthy and late motorcade through Washington, including a stop at the U.S. Capitol, the late senator was laid to rest after sunset in Arlington National Cemetery near the graves of his assassinated brothers, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE KENNEDY EULOGIES: OBAMA, BIDEN, KERRY. MCCAIN.
** OBAMA TODAY – SUNDAY. President Barack Obama returns to Washington today after a greatly interrupted vacation on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
At 1:50 PM Pacific, the Obama family departs Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts on Air Force One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 3 PM Pacific, the Obamas arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, where they board Marine One for the flight to White House.
At 3:15 PM Pacific, the Obamas land on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama is close to re-starting negotiations on the question of Israel and Palestine, with an announcement likely next month.
Meanwhile, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who presided over the disastrous 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, today became the first chief Israeli leader to be indicted on corruption charges.
And in Japan, the longtime powerhouse LDP (Liberal Democratic Party, a bit of a misnomer) has lost in a landslide to the Democratic Party of Japan. Prime Minister Taro Aso, now the outgoing prime minister, has resigned as head of the LDP.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE – SUNDAY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to California late last night following the burial of Senator Ted Kennedy.
First Lady Maria Shriver stayed on in the East, attending to family business. She appears today on NBC’s Meet The Press, a special edition on the Kennedy family.
Schwarzenegger is in Southern California today, dealing with the state’s latest fire emergency. He tours some of the fire damage and is briefed on the statewide situation.
At 10 AM, he discusses the situation at the Station Incident Command Post at Hansen Dam in Lakeview Terrace.
Ted Kennedy, Jr. and Congressman Patrick Kennedy eulogized their father, Senator Ted Kennedy, this morning in Boston.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE KENNEDY EULOGIES: OBAMA, BIDEN, KERRY. MCCAIN.
** PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S EULOGY FOR SENATOR TED KENNEDY.
Mrs. Kennedy, Kara, Edward, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, members of the Kennedy family, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Today we say goodbye to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate – a man whose name graces nearly one thousand laws, and who penned more than three hundred himself.
But those of us who loved him, and ache with his passing, know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held: Father. Brother. Husband. Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, “The Grand Fromage,” or “The Big Cheese.” I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, a friend.
Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock. He was the sunny, joyful child, who bore the brunt of his brothers’ teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off. When they tossed him off a boat because he didn’t know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail. When a photographer asked the newly-elected Bobby to step back at a press conference because he was casting a shadow on his younger brother, Teddy quipped, “It’ll be the same in Washington.”
This spirit of resilience and good humor would see Ted Kennedy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know. He lost two siblings by the age of sixteen. He saw two more taken violently from the country that loved them. He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his own life. He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.
It is a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. And it would have been easy for Teddy to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that.
But that was not Ted Kennedy. As he told us, “…[I]ndividual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in – and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves.” Indeed, Ted was the “Happy Warrior” that the poet William Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote:
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and suffering of others – the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier sent to battle without armor; the citizen denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from. The landmark laws that he championed — the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children’s health care, the Family and Medical Leave Act –all have a running thread. Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.
We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers’ rights or civil rights. And yet, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did. While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that is not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw him. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect – a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.
And that’s how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, but also by seeking compromise and common cause – not through deal-making and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humor. There was the time he courted Orrin Hatch’s support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program by having his Chief of Staff serenade the Senator with a song Orrin had written himself; the time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague; and the famous story of how he won the support of a Texas Committee Chairman on an immigration bill. Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manila envelope, and showed only the Chairman that it was filled with the Texan’s favorite cigars. When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the Chairman. When they weren’t, he would pull it back. Before long, the deal was done.
It was only a few years ago, on St. Patrick’s Day, when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support on a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for vote. I gave him my pledge, but expressed my skepticism that it would pass. But when the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes it needed, and then some. I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked how he had pulled it off. He just patted me on the back, and said “Luck of the Irish!”
Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy’s legislative success, and he knew that. A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time. Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, “What did Webster do?”
But though it is Ted Kennedy’s historic body of achievements we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss. It was the friend and colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I hope you feel better,” or “What can I do to help?” It was the boss who was so adored by his staff that over five hundred spanning five decades showed up for his 75th birthday party. It was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank you notes and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. Senator would take the time to think about someone like them. I have one of those paintings in my private study – a Cape Cod seascape that was a gift to a freshman legislator who happened to admire it when Ted Kennedy welcomed him into his office the first week he arrived in Washington; by the way, that’s my second favorite gift from Teddy and Vicki after our dog Bo. And it seems like everyone has one of those stories – the ones that often start with “You wouldn’t believe who called me today.”
Ted Kennedy was the father who looked after not only his own three children, but John’s and Bobby’s as well. He took them camping and taught them to sail. He laughed and danced with them at birthdays and weddings; cried and mourned with them through hardship and tragedy; and passed on that same sense of service and selflessness that his parents had instilled in him. Shortly after Ted walked Caroline down the aisle and gave her away at the altar, he received a note from Jackie that read, “On you the carefree youngest brother fell a burden a hero would have begged to be spared. We are all going to make it because you were always there with your love.”
Not only did the Kennedy family make it because of Ted’s love – he made it because of theirs; and especially because of the love and the life he found in Vicki. After so much loss and so much sorrow, it could not have been easy for Ted Kennedy to risk his heart again. That he did is a testament to how deeply he loved this remarkable woman from Louisiana. And she didn’t just love him back. As Ted would often acknowledge, Vicki saved him. She gave him strength and purpose; joy and friendship; and stood by him always, especially in those last, hardest days.
We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know God’s plan for us.
What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and love, and joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of other human beings.
This is how Ted Kennedy lived. This is his legacy. He once said of his brother Bobby that he need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, and I imagine he would say the same about himself. The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy’s shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became. We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office. We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy – not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved.
In the days after September 11th, Teddy made it a point to personally call each one of the 177 families of this state who lost a loved one in the attack. But he didn’t stop there. He kept calling and checking up on them. He fought through red tape to get them assistance and grief counseling. He invited them sailing, played with their children, and would write each family a letter whenever the anniversary of that terrible day came along. To one widow, he wrote the following:
“As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved one would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us.”
We carry on.
Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good he did, the dream he kept alive, and a single, enduring image – the image of a man on a boat; white mane tousled; smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for what storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon.
May God Bless Ted Kennedy, and may he rest in eternal peace.
In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama discusses recovery from Hurricane Katrina on its fourth anniversary.
** OBAMA TODAY – SATURDAY. President Barack Obama, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, has been in Martha’s Vineyard this week on vacation.
Today, however, he is in Boston for the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy.
Obama will deliver the principal eulogy for the late senator.
Obama has received his daily intelligence briefing this morning.
He has also met privately with Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the senator’s widow.
The funeral service at Boston’s Mission Church, known formally as Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, begins at 7:30 AM Pacific.
Also in attendance will be former President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Jimmy Carter, along with scores of Kennedy’s Senate colleagues and other dignitaries.
Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke memorably at Kennedy’s wake last night at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, will also be in attendance.
Kennedy will be buried this afternoon at 2:30 PM Pacific near President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery.
This will follow his final motorcade through Washington. Kennedy departs Hanscom Air Force Base at 10:30 AM Pacific and arrives at Andrews Air Force Base at 12 noon Pacific. The final Kennedy motorcade will proceed through Washington and stop at the U.S. Capitol for a prayer on the Senate steps at 1:30 PM Pacific before proceeding to Arlington National Cemetery.
Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, remembered Senator Ted Kennedy last night in remarks at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE – SATURDAY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Boston this morning with First Lady Maria Shriver for the funeral service of their uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy.
From Boston, they will accompany the rest of the family to Washington and on to Arlington National Cemetery for Kennedy’s burial.
You can see the schedule above in the Obama Today section.
** CAMELOT ENDS, AGAIN: THE PASSING OF SENATOR TED KENNEDY. Camelot has ended. Again.
The death late last night in Massachusetts of Ted Kennedy, one of the historic lions of the United States Senate, followed swiftly on the heels of his sister, the Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who passed away on August 11th. With the passing of these two very public personalities, only one of the siblings of JFK and RFK, the much more private former Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith, remains.
Camelot has ended again. Which means that it has ended before. And probably will again. For it is a legend, and legend seldom dies for long, if at all.
Camelot was the nickname for John F. Kennedy’s thousand day administration of the early 1960s, chosen because of the young president’s fondness for the hit Broadway musical about the legendary court of King Arthur.
But it was really about much more than a single presidential administration, or the immediate promise of another under a President Robert F. Kennedy, or the long lingering promise of yet another under a President Edward M. Kennedy, or even the transferred promise of another under a President Barack Obama.
It’s about a spirit, a spirit which to many seemed to have been captured like lightning in a bottle in the early 1960s, an exciting time of promise and peril, which accounts for that era’s powerful hold on the American popular imagination.
Ted Kennedy himself captured the spirit of the thing in his great eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on June 8th, 1968 when he quoted from his second slain brother’s speech to the youth of South Africa on their Day of Affirmation a few years earlier.
“The answer is to rely on youth. Not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” …
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “LOVE AMONG THE RUINS.” … From my August 24th column.
** OBAMA AND THE AFGHAN ELECTION: WHAT IT MEANS, WHAT IT DOESN’T. The Obama Administration should be sighing with a sense of relief after the presidential election in Afghanistan. However, for those with nascent/encroaching nation-building fantasies, what happened with the Afghan election should be thoroughly disabusing.
The Taliban failed in their threat to halt the election, and were unable to pull off any of the promised spectacular attacks demonstrating a strong military capability. But that’s to be expected, as some 300,000 US, NATO, and Afghan troops were fanned out across the county to prevent just that. Better to keep our eyes on the real world goals in Afghanistan: Denying it as a base to Al Qaeda, and moving on in the mission of dampening Islamic opposition to America.
While we slid by in this election, it would be a huge mistake to imagine that we are any closer to realizing persistent nation-building fantasies in Afghanistan. It’s nowhere near a 20th century democracy, much less a 21st century democracy. Perhaps a 19th century democracy. But for the powerful forces ever insistent on dragging it back into the Dark Ages. … From my August 20th column.
** MAD MEN: “OUT OF TOWN” … SEASON 3 OPENER SATISFYING NOT SCINTILLATING. … From my August 18th column.
** MAD MEN RETURNS: THE ‘60S ADVERTISING DRAMA IS A TIME TUNNEL TO THE PRESENT. The much acclaimed, if not so much watched, Mad Men makes a welcome return for its third season Sunday night. I’ve found the series, now the flagship show on AMC, a channel once best known as a reliable source for late night viewings of Commando, to be very compelling from the beginning, if not exactly action-packed.
There are a number of ways to view Mad Men. For my own part, I can take it as a period piece, a sort of time capsule of the early ’60s, at once relatively close yet far enough away to be intriguing for its unfamiliarity. Or as an evocation of style, with the sort of glamour and cool associated with JFK and the early Bond films, in this case a New York variant including chain smoking, constant drinking, and sexual play continually tinged with sexual harassment.
It’s a character study, as well, for the surface glitter of the persuader class and those who attend them masks confusion and lack of identity. That could also make it a cautionary tale, albeit one set during the height of the post-war expansion of American affluence.
Which makes it, in turn, a meditation on the American Dream. Not entirely unlike The Sopranos, on which Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner served as an Emmy-winning writer and producer. Well, except for the fact that Mad Men protagonist/anti-hero Don Draper is a charismatic and enigmatic New York ad man, not a perpetually depressed, poetically crude New Jersey mob boss. … From my August 14th essay.
** SOTOMAYOR, OBAMA, AND THE LOOMING REPUBLICAN RACE PROBLEM. … From my August 13th column.
** WHEN SHOULD GAY MARRIAGE ADVOCATES TRY TO REVERSE CALIFORNIA’S PROP 8? … From my August 11th column.
** OBAMA’S CAIRO ADDRESS: TWO MONTHS ON. … From my August 5th column.
** IS OBAMA GETTING OVEREXPOSED? … From my July 28th column.
** ANOTHER ‘60S ANNIVERSARY: THE UR-ACTION BLOCKBUSTER GOLDFINGER. … From my July 21st essay.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate last fall, prior to the global economic meltdown, with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included. Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil closed at $72.74 per barrel on Friday. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
This is up about $39 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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