What happened
Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy—the longtime liberal stalwart—died Tuesday after a long battle with brain cancer. Kennedy became patriarch of one of the nation's most storied political families after the assassinations of his older brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert Kennedy, in the 1960s, and became one of the most influential senators in American history (The Washington Post).

What the commentators said
"With the death of Ted Kennedy," said Emily Friedman in ABC News, "the last link to Camelot and the end of what many consider to be the greatest American political dynasty has come to an end." Kennedy was first elected to the Senate in 1962 at the age of 30, and by the time he died at 77 he had become the third-longest-serving senator in history. "It's unlikely anyone will be able to sustain the family's name to the degree Kennedy did."

The nation's prayers go out to the Kennedy family, which has lost its "pillar," said Scott Johnson in Power Line. Ted Kennedy was a "lion" of liberalism whose legacy will live on. But one "indisputably negative" contribution will not be celebrated—his "willfully false and remarkably coarse attack" on Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in 1987 set a "vulgar" tone in Washington that continues today.

"Let's shake out of the partisan finger-pointing of this summer and rise up," said Jennifer Donahue in The Huffington Post. Ted Kennedy's voice was one of the few capable of ending the bickering and getting lawmakers of both parties to focus on what really matters—helping ordinary Americans. That ability will be missed in the health care debate. We need to teach young people to prize "democracy's values" the way Kennedy did, or "our country will be without them."