Tag Archives: kennedy brothers

Happy Birthday, 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.

Ted (L), Jack (center) and Bobby (R) in Washington, D.C., 1958

Ted (L), Jack (center) and Bobby (R) in Washington, D.C., 1958

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.

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Sen. Kennedy’s Brain Surgery Successful

Sen. Edward Kennedy


DURHAM, North Carolina (AFP) — US Senator Edward Kennedy underwent “successful” brain cancer surgery Monday, his doctor said, as the political icon vowed a return to work and to campaigning for presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

“I am pleased to report that Senator Kennedy’s surgery was successful and accomplished our goals,” Duke University Medical Center doctor Allan Freidman said in a statement.

“Senator Kennedy was awake during the resection, and should therefore experience no permanent neurological effects from the surgery,” said Freidman, one of the country’s top brain surgeons.

The delicate three-and-a-half hour surgery, Freidman said, was “the first step” in the Democratic party giant’s treatment plan. After a brief recuperation Kennedy is due to begin targeted radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston followed by chemotherapy treatment.

Kennedy, 76, is the last surviving brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

He reportedly told his wife, Victoria, afterward: “I feel like a million bucks. I think I’ll do that again tomorrow,” said the senator’s office, cited by US media.

The liberal lion of the Senate said he was eyeing an eventual return to Capitol Hill and to campaigning for Obama, whom he endorsed earlier this year.

“After completing treatment, I look forward to returning to the United States Senate and to doing everything I can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president,” the senator said.

Kennedy was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on May 17 after suffering a seizure at his family’s compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod.

Following results from a biopsy, doctors diagnosed Kennedy with a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, an area of the brain which controls speech, among other functions.

Doctors have not publicly offered a prognosis for Kennedy. But the US National Cancer Institute has said the outlook for such a diagnosis is poor, with average life expectancy depending on the stage of the tumor, from a few months to up to five years.

Gliomas often begin with genetic changes in the brain’s glial cells — cells which support neurological activity — although the source of such changes remains a mystery, according to experts.

A key challenge for doctors is removing such tumors without harming healthy brain tissue.

About 13,000 Americans die annually from malignant tumors in the brain or spinal cord, comprising 2.2 percent of all cancer-linked deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Survival has improved over the past decade due in part to new drugs.

The tumors kills 50 percent of patients during the first year after diagnosis and few live beyond three years. Without treatment the tumor grows back between two to three months after being surgically removed.

The brain tumor diagnosis sent shockwaves through the US Congress, where Kennedy has been a dominant figure for nearly half a century.

He is a champion of causes such as health care, education, workers rights and immigration reform.

While he has been a fierce critic of President George W. Bush, he has also reached out to work with Republicans.

Kennedy, whose eighth term in the Senate expires in 2012, once seemed destined for the White House.

But his career was rocked by the death of a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, in his car late one night in 1969 after he drove off a bridge near Chappaquiddick island.

He did run for president in 1980 against incumbent Jimmy Carter. Kennedy lost the Democratic nomination but politically damaged Carter, who lost the general election to Republican Ronald Reagan.

Kennedy’s latest health crisis came six months after he had surgery to clear a blockage in a major neck artery, a common procedure to prevent a stroke.

His brother, late president John F. Kennedy Jr. was shot and killed in 1963, and brother Robert Kennedy was shot dead while campaigning for the presidency in 1968.

Ted is the youngest of nine children in the famed Kennedy clan. His eldest brother Joseph died in a plane crash during World War II.


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