Last night Edward Kennedy, who had been suffering from brain cancer, succumbed at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. His life story is so well known as to hardly bear repeating: younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Presidential contender, Senator from Massachusetts since 1962, driver in the car accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick in 1969, tabloid scandal staple, health care advocate, and lately recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That story has been and will be told in a number of ways, and much has been and will be made of his struggles as one of the less-apt in his famously competitive family, the relative unseriousness of his early career, his problems with drink, and his devotion late in life to the work of the Senate and to old-fashioned liberal causes. History is nearly as unreliable as journalism, but it is possible to imagine that, with Kennedy no longer an active force in American politics or (presumably) a curse on the lips of conservatives, he will be recalled less for the disappointment many felt in what he failed to achieve, and more for his long service, and his place among the memorable senators of the republic.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 26, 2009