A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO TEDDY
* As Senator Edward M. Kennedy continues to battle terminal brain cancer, The Boston Globe paid homage’ to this icon of American politics with a lengthy biography published just before his 77th birthday.
Edward Moore Kennedy, ninth child of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy, was born on Feb. 22, 1932 – which just happened to be the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday. Whether or not he took it as an omen, the proud father, who already envisioned a Kennedy becoming the first Catholic president, often pointed out the felicitous date to others.
Ironically, the presidency would not be bestowed upon Teddy, of course. Nor would it be in the destiny of JP Kennedy’s eldest son Joe Jr., the one his father had always predicted would be president.
As fate would have it, the only member of the Kennedy family who achieved that goal was the one assumed least likely to make it: Joe’s second son, the chronically (and often seriously) ill John F. Kennedy.
And as fate would also decree, President Kennedy’s time in that high office would be tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet after little more than a thousand days.
Jack’s younger brother Robert, attorney general of the United States, was next in line to lead the family political dynasty. Bobby picked up the torch and attempted to reclaim the presidency in his brother’s memory. After being elected senator from New York in 1964, RFK ran for the White House four years later and may well have completed the journey had it not been for his ill-fated campaign stop at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968.
After losing all three of his elder brothers and seeing his father incapacitated by a stroke, Ted Kennedy, then-senator from Massachusetts, suddenly became the unlikely patriarch. For the next 40 years, not a day would pass that Teddy didn’t have someone approach and ask him to run for the presidency.
Despite a 1964 plane crash that almost killed him and the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident which nearly ruined his political career, Ted Kennedy did make a run for the White House in 1980, but lost the Democratic nomination to President Jimmy Carter. Well, he gave it the old college try, as they say, then he wisely chose to spend the rest of his years focusing on the responsibility of being a U.S. Senator. Ted seemed happy with his choice and never looked back.
But that didn’t stop people from asking. Would he ever run again? Why not the Presidency, they asked him over and over again as the years turned into decades. He’d say no a thousand times, and still the question was repeated.
Well, they finally stopped asking one day last May. When it became known that Senator Kennedy had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, that long-held dream of putting the last Kennedy brother in the White House was over.
As Ted Kennedy prepares to sail on his final voyage, heading for that bright horizon where he will reunite with all of his beloved friends and family who sailed before him, we’d like to encourage our readers to honor his birthday and celebrate his remarkable life. One way to do it is to take some time out of your busy day and read this well-researched and often moving tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy in the Boston Globe. Highly recommended.