I did not personally know Senator Edward Kennedy, although like millions of Americans, I have closely followed his noteworthy career of triumph and tragedy. Thanks to an extraordinary Inauguration ticket which I was given with the compliments of Senator Trent Lott, I was able to observe Kennedy at very close range for an extended period of time when George W. Bush was administered the oath of office as President of the United States for the second time.
In his later years, the Senator justifiably gained a reputation as a hard worker who was well informed on the issues coming before the Congress; and he was wildly popular among those that shared his paternalistic views of “noblesse oblige”. However, I was certainly no fan. Although he supported the nomination by Senators Eastland and Stennis of my old friend, Governor J.P. Coleman, to the United States Court of Appeals For The Fifth Circuit many years ago, Senator Kennedy more recently vigorously opposed the nominations of United States District Judge Charles Pickering and constitutional attorney Mike Wallace to that same Court. The fact that neither Pickering nor Wallace, both from Mississippi, was elevated to the Fifth Circuit was and remains a great tragedy. At long last, we Mississippians are fortunate that despite Kennedy’s opposition, Judge Leslie Southwick finally made it through the nomination process and now sits as a Judge on the Fifth Circuit Bench.
Senator Kennedy’s occasional eloquence, and his unbridled passion for centralized government control as the most effective way to improve the lives of the American people, made him a media darling and endeared him to the American Left – and made him an effective tool in the furtherance of their causes. By all accounts, he was also good company. Thus, he was able to strike deals or compromises with his Senate colleagues and to incrementally promote his liberal agenda.
I have read many articles and re-read passages from many of my books on the Kennedy family since Senator Kennedy died. I was particularly struck by the fact that he sent a letter to Pope Benedict in July, 2009, which was delivered by President Obama on his recent visit to the Vatican. The letter asked the Pope to pray for the Senator during his last illness, and the Senator cited many of his accomplishments while serving in the Senate, apparently as justification for his request. The letter, along with the Pope’s response through the Papal Office, were read at his graveside on national television.
One of my favorite articles on Senator Kennedy’s passing, which in my opinion gives proper balance to the Senator’s career and accomplishments, was written by columnist Cathy Young, of REAL CLEAR POLITICS, on August 28, 2009. It is entitled “KENNEDY’S BELIEF IN BIG GOVERNMENT”, and the link is shown below for your consideration.
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