Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) succumbed to brain cancer today, after battling the ailment for years.
Kennedy was the consummate politician, with his Ivy League education, immaculate political pedigree, and scandal-swathed notoriety. At the conclusion of his life, Kennedy was held in high regard as a power player in the Senate, and enjoyed immense popularity for his fight against brain cancer.
Kennedy attended Harvard University, where he was expelled for cheating on a test, though later reinstated. By the time he was 30, this youngest of nine Kennedy children had secured a seat in the Massachusetts senate. However, his luck took a turn for the worse as a string of unfortunate events unfolded soon thereafter.
Follwoing the assassination of John F. Kennedy and, later, Robert Kennedy, Ted drunkenly drove his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick, drowning a female passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy himself swam for safety, but left the young woman to die in the submerged vehicle, and waited until the next day to report the incident. In a swift publicity offensive, he managed to salvage his career enough to stay in power through the rest of his life. Only in politics can you murder someone and still manage to be America’s darling.
Kennedy’s image was further tarnished, as he became known as a flagrant womanizer, perhaps because he was caught in the act in a public Washington restaurant and rumored to be skirt chasing around the Capitol with a fellow senator. His nephew William Smith was also charged with raping a woman after an evening out with Ted, further tainting Kennedy’s reputation.
Major political issues for Ted were immigration, voter rights, and gun control, and during George W. Bush’s administration, he emerged as the leading opponent against the invasion of Iraq.
Interestingly, Kennedy’s most recent political battle has been the crusade against the current health care system. I wonder if he realized that finding a cure for a septuagenarian’s diagnosis with cancer is probably not a top priority in non-privatized medicine, as it is definitely not cost-effective to pour money into rescuing an elderly person from a terminal illness. But hey, you can’t put a cost on life, unless its of any American not born into political royalty. That’s not elitist at all.
On the plus side, had he been a lowly, average-American, non-Kennedy, his plan for healthcare “overhaul” would have offered him the country’s best experts on dying an economical death “end of life counseling.”