I reacted in an unexpectedly emotional way after turning on the television this morning to news of Senator Edward Kennedy's passing. Perhaps it was because I knew that my mother would be grieving his death even more significantly. Beyond his own accomplishments and history of service, he represents the last of a powerful tribe. The deaths of his brothers defined a generation - especially young, Democratic activists like my parents. Especially young, East Coast, Catholic, Democratic activists like my mom.
As a friend noted on FB, the vultures are circling, ready to tear at his legacy, revive tired Chappaquiddick jokes (which are meaningless for my generation), and express their unmitigated disdain for his policies, but more vehemently, for his person.
Many of those vultures will be Republicans. Not all Republicans, however, will attack the Senator. Some will celebrate a man whose dedication cannot be questioned. Like Jack Pitney does, here.
I suppose one could argue, as I will, someday, when figures like Bush or Cheney die, that celebrating their service free of acknowledging their philosophy and tactics would be a grave mistake of the "you must give him credit for being a great orator" variety. Perhaps that analogy would be apt. But I believe Bush and Cheney were wrong as much as I believe Ted Kennedy, personal foibles aside, fought for the public policy I support and upheld ideals I uphold.
Rest in peace, Senator Kennedy. You will be missed.