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Mourning Ted Kennedy
How the nation will remember a "torchbearer for liberalism"
W

hat happened
Tens of thousands of mourners paid their respects to Ted Kennedy, lining sidewalks to watch a hearse carrying the late senator's body, and filing past his coffin on Friday when the doors opened at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. "Washington, the Senate, the White House," said Annette Luc, 51, a state employee who waited for the cortege near Boston Common, "they all lost a real leader." (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
"That the nation is so moved by the passing of Edward Moore Kennedy," said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, "testifies to his skill, grace, and determination at playing a role that must have been infinitely more difficult than it sounds: a prince fated never to be king." Ted Kennedy was never to be president like his brother, but he gave his life purpose by "becoming the greatest senator of our age and serving as the liberal conscience of the nation." 

The praise bestowed on Kennedy by political allies and rivals alike, said Cathy Young in RealClearPolitics, "is testament to his superb political skills." But that grief "should not obscure the fact that his career also illustrates the darker side of the liberal legacy." Yes, he fought for the poor, but by pushing for a higher minimum wage he helped worsen unemployment, and by pushing affirmative action he contributed to discrimination against working-class whites.

Ted Kennedy's supporters say he'll be remembered for being a "torchbearer for liberalism," said Jay Winik in The Wall Street Journal. His detractors say the times when Kennedy was "guilty of demagoguery" revealed the nature of the man. But all should agree that Kennedy was one of this nation's towering senators who have taken part in "the timeless clash of its two great political parties." For that, he "will be sorely missed."

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