Edward Moore Kennedy turned 77 over the weekend and has lived almost twice as long as his famous brothers. It is difficult to imagine that he will be celebrating too many more birthdays as he battles a brain tumor, but he remains extraordinarily upbeat, reminding a New York Times reporter that his was a generation "wired to be optimistic."
For some people of a certain age, Kennedy will always be the rich drunk who drove off the Chappaquidick Bridge and sent Mary Jo Kopechne to her watery death. For others like myself, he will always be the scandal tarnished baby brother who would never follow in the footsteps of Jack or Bobby but nevertheless did great good.
In fact, Kennedy's hands are all over virtually every major liberal Democratic legislative initiative of the past 45 years and a goodly number of bipartisan ones, as well. These include the 1980 Americans With Disabilities Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Most of us do not remember Kennedy for his accomplishments because he has been, in his own way self effacing, and the contrast to a moral coward like Richard Perle (see next post) could not be more striking.
Kennedy these days is determined to help see through a final great work -- reform of a health-care system every bit as sick as he is. I pray that he succeeds before it is time for him to leave us.