Senator Edward M. Kennedy died of brain cancer last night at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port. The last surviving Kennedy brother overcame personal tragedy and scandal to become the Senate's "liberal lion," champion universal health care, and throw the support of the Kennedy name behind the country's first black president. A statement from the Kennedy family in the Boston Globe reminds that he was also a husband and father, the last patriarch of an American political dynasty. "We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in
our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance
will live on in our hearts forever." Here are the first reactions from around the world.
- Boston Globe: The Last Lion of the Senate, declares the obituary. "Overcoming a history of family tragedy, including the assassinations of a brother who was president and another who sought the presidency, Senator Kennedy seized the role of being a "Senate man.'' He became a Democratic titan of Washington who fought for the less fortunate, who crafted unlikely deals with conservative Republicans, and who ceaselessly sought support for universal health coverage."
- President Obama: A Friend and a Wise Counsel, he said in a statement he issued earlier today. "Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time."
- New York Times: The Survivor, wrote John M. Broder. "He reluctantly and at times awkwardly carried the Kennedy standard, with all it implied and all it required. And yet, some scholars contend, he may have proved himself the most worthy."
- Wall Street Journal: Democratic Hero, Health Care Warrior, wrote Naftali Bendavid. "Mr. Kennedy's final months were marked by the poignancy of a man who had fought his whole career for universal health care facing his last window of opportunity to accomplish it, even while engaging in his own devastating health battle."
- The Power Line: Flawed, Powerful, and Human, wrote Scott. "We live in Edward Kennedy's America not only in the consequential legislation that he sponsored and saw through the Senate, but also in the afterlife of the vulgar political sham on which Senator Kennedy relied to defeat the nomination of Judge Bork." At the Spectator, Alex Massie agrees. "His death marks the end of an old song. American politics is still prone to dynasties but the Kennedy line has been all but exhausted and, in this day and age, it seems most unlikely that any other will a matter for such gruesome fascination or purple-prosed fawning."
- The National Review: He Was the Bane of the American Conservative Movement, writes Bill Bennett, who notes that Kennedy, "assaulted our causes and nominees with vigor and rancor." Bennett says he was also, without question, one of the country's most powerful legislators. "Whatever one thought of him, there is no one in the Senate of his force, sheer power, and impact. If you think there is his equal in this, tell me who it is." And he was a fighter, said Bennett's colleague, John J. Pitney, Jr. "Ted Kennedy did not go gentle into that good night. He fought for his beliefs as long as he could, and he struggled to stay alive when others might have given up."
- Daily Kos: A Man for the People, said Meteor Blades. "The plethora of legislation he helped pass made life better for children, for the poor, for African-Americans, for immigrants, for workers. He didn't just give lip service to the rights of workers, he stood in their corner."
- Michelle Malkin: Not the Time for Political Analysis or Criticism, she wrote. "Put aside your ideological differences for an appropriate moment and mark this passing with solemnity."
- Washington Times: The End of Camelot, writes Andrea Billups. "His family was American royalty, conjuring visions of handsome brothers tossing a football in an age of innocence, long before Watergate laid bare the sins of ego and power on the presidency."
- The Root: Good White Folk, writes Jimi Izrael. "The Kennedys seem to value compassion as an essential human virtue and walked the talk in ways uncommon for politicians of any stripe."
- The New Republic: A Uniquely American Story, says Sean Wilentz. "Of him, it could be written, in Yeats's words, that '[b]eing Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.' But also being an American, and being Edward Kennedy, he accomplished extraordinary good for the nation from a position he won because of his family's name, but that he finally held superbly, with hard-won talents and a compassionate heart."