Thursday, 27 August 2009

Ted Kennedy - Mixed Feelings

My friend Caron wrote yesterday that the passing of the Senior Senator for Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy was the lose of a great liberal. Maybe it is because my first memory of him was somewhat different that the many liberal things he did were tinged with a rather darker side in my eye.

One of Ted Kennedy's last acts for to write along with 6 other Senators that letter asking Scottish Justice Mnister Kenny MacAskill not to release al-Megrahi. That letter cited the feelings of the American families. However, the man was also the same man who said the British should get out of Ireland and a United Ireland should exist.

From a country that has only been in existence since 1776 as an independent nation it sounds rather shallow. From that suppressed its own native peoples, confining them to reservations and taking up the best tracks of their land it becomes rather two faced. When some of us know our family has been working the same land we had first leased in 1710 it makes the sentiment stink.

Of course he did carry on the message on civil rights that his brothers championed, despite his wealth he sought to expand the nature of health care provision to those who could not afford it. So yes there were a lot of liberal ideals encompassed in the man. But like many of us I suppose there is a stumbling block to pleasing all of the people.

Ted knew his constituents had a large number of Catholic Irish-Americans. He came to the point of an Irish settlement late on in the day. Of course as Caron stated there was his, and other Kennedy's, influence over Gerry Adams, Martin Maginnis et al, he also was a voice that American Presidents and British Prime Ministers would listen to. In that one sense once he came to the ball game he was an influence for the peace, whereas in the 70s and 80s he was viewed with contempt by the majority in Northern Ireland.

None of the next generation of Kennedys, despite trying, seems to have the political stature of John, Robert or Edward. The one of the clan with most influence now is an Austrian former body builder and film star who married Eunice's daughter Maria. Though Ted's son Patrick is a congressman, Robert's son Joseph is also in the House and John's daughter Caroline failed in her attempt to replace Hillary Clinton as Senator for New York. There is a possibility that they or one of the other campaigners of business people in the Kennedy clan may well succeed to the seat that has been in the family's pocket since JFK first won it. Camelot though less influential now than it has been may still hold unto its foothold in this corner of their kingdom.

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