Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy

Senator Kennedy's request that the Massachusetts legislature change the laws regarding the replacement of Senators from that state turned out to be sadly prescient -- he died last night.

Kennedy's death marks the end of a truly distinguished legislative career. He was second in Senate seniority, having served nearly 47 years, and he had innumerable legislative accomplishments.

My own small remembrance of Senator Kennedy comes from my brief stint as a Legislative Fellow in a Senate office in 2007. Televisions on every desk were always tuned to the Senate floor, and I remember seeing Senator Kennedy speaking -- on health care, I believe -- late one afternoon. I was struck by how different he was from what one would expect from someone who had done the same job for 45 years. Of course, being a Senator is a great job -- at least, it's certainly very different from most jobs -- but still, after 45 years, one might expect that even Senators would find the excitement and interest of floor speeches and other legislative jostling to be somewhat dimmed and to be going through the motions with less than the ferocity they might previously have brought to their work. But not Kennedy. He spoke with passion and fervor, exhorting his colleagues about the importance of the issue for the country. He was fighting with all his might, even after 45 years, and I'm sure he would still be doing so after 50 if he had lived. What a special man.

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