Ted Kennedy

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For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (22 February 193225 August 2009) was the senior Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts. In office from November 1962 to August 2009, Kennedy was, at the time, the second-longest serving member of the Senate, after Robert Byrd of West Virginia. He was the younger brother of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, and the uncle of Caroline Kennedy.




  • My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
    • Eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy (8 June 1968)
  • President Nixon has told us, without question, that we seek no military victory, that we seek only peace. How then can we justify sending our boys against a hill a dozen times or more, until soldiers themselves question the madness of the action? The assault on "Hamburger Hill" is only symptomatic of a mentality and a policy that requires immediate attention. American boys are too valuable to be sacrificed for a false sense of military pride.
  • I have requested this opportunity to talk to the people of Massachusetts about the tragedy which happened last Friday evening. This morning I entered a plea of guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Prior to my appearance in court it would have been [im]proper for me to comment on these matters. But tonight I am free to tell you what happened and to say what it means to me.
  • I made immediate and repeated efforts to save Mary Jo by diving into the strong and murky current, but succeeded only in increasing my state of utter exhaustion and alarm. My conduct and conversations during the next several hours, to the extent that I can remember them, make no sense to me at all.
  • In sum, I believe that the basic constitutional arguments supporting the power of Congress to change voting qualifications by statute are the same in the case of literacy, residence, or age. So far as I am aware, the Administration proposals in the area of literacy and residence have encountered no substantial opposition on constitutional grounds. Both proposals were incorporated as amendments to the Voting Rights Act in the bill passed by the House of Representatives late last year, and they are now pending before the Senate. If Congress has the authority to act by statute in these areas, as it must if the Administration bill passed by the House is constitutional, then Congress also has the authority to act by statute to lower the voting age to 18. I am hopeful, therefore, that we can achieve broad and bipartisan agreement on the statutory route to reach our vital goal of enlarging the franchise to include 18 year-olds.
    • speech in favor of lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, which eventually be done through the 26th Amendment


  • The story of East Bengal will surely be written as one of the greatest nightmares of modern times.
    • Senator Edward Kennedy quoted in Bass, G. (2014). The Blood telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a forgotten genocide.
  • Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old....When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.
  • Ulster is becoming Britain’s Vietnam. Indeed, it is fair to say that Britain stands toward peace in Northern Ireland today where America stood in Southeast Asia in the early 1960s. The parallel is uncanny. When President Kennedy died, only 120 American soldiers had been killed in action in Vietnam between 1961 and 1963. This week we learned that 128 persons had died in Northern Ireland in the two years of bitter violence that has gripped that land since British troops first arrived in 1969. We know that the years from 1961 to 1963 were only an early chapter in the American horror of Vietnam. We know the tragedy that unfolded there in later years: 45,000 Americans have now died in the war; hundreds of thousands of North and South Vietnamese soldiers have been killed; millions of innocent civilians have died and millions more are homeless refugees in their own country.
  • Field reports to the U.S. Government, countless eye-witness journalistic accounts, reports of international agencies such as World Bank, and additional information available to the subcommittee document the reign of terror which grips East Bengal (East Pakistan). Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered and in some places, painted with yellow patches marked "H". All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered, and implemented under martial law from Islamabad. ..'
    • report dated November 1, 1971, Senator Edward Kennedy. Crisis in South Asia - A report by Senator Edward Kennedy to the Subcommittee investigating the Problem of Refugees and Their Settlement, Submitted to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, November 1, 1971, U.S. Govt.Press, pp.6-7. Quoted in Benkin, Richard L. (2014). A quiet case of ethnic cleansing: The murder of Bangladesh's Hindus., p. 75.
    • Crisis in South Asia: A Report by Senator Edward Kennedy to the Subcommittee Investigating the Problem of Refugees and Their Settlement, Submitted to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, November 1, 1971, US Govt. Press, pp. 66. (quoted from Bertil Lintner, The Plights of Ethnic and Religious Minorities and the Rise of Islamic Extremism in Bangladesh, February 2, 2003, at: http://www.asiapacificms.com/papers/ethnic_and_religious_minorities_bangladesh.pdf) in Y Rosser, Indoctrinating Minds: Politics of Education in Bangladesh. 2004 page **132
  • In fact, the legal system is in part responsible for their very size and growth. And too often when the individual finds himself in conflict with these forces, the legal system sides with the giant institution, not the small businessman or private citizen.
    • On big business and big government; speech before American Bar Association, New York (August 8, 1978), reported in Alan F. Pater, Jason R. Pate, What They Said in 1978 (1979), p. 168.
  • Well I'm, umm, were I to, to make the, the announcement to run, the reasons that I would run is because I have a great belief in this country, that it is, there's more natural resources than any nation of the world, has the greatest educated population in the world the greatest technology of any country in the world, the greatest capacity for innovation in the world, and the greatest political system in the world. And yet I see at the current time that most of the industrial nations of the world are exceeding us in terms of productivity or doing better than us in terms of meeting the problems of inflation that they are dealing with, their problems of energy and their problems of unemployment. It just seems to me that this nation can cope and deal with its problems in a way that it has in the past. We are facing complex issues and problems in this nation at this time, but we have faced similar challenges at other times and the energies and the resourcefulness of this nation, I think, should be focused on these problems in a way that brings a sense of restoration in this country by its people to in dealing with the problems that we face primarily the issues on the economy, the problems of inflation, and the problems of energy and I would basically feel that that it's imperative for this country to either move forward, that it can't standstill or otherwise it moves backwards.
  • As President, Jack was a glory on the mountaintop. The New Frontier of which he dreamed touched deep and responsive chords in the American character. He could make lightning strike on the things he cared about. He was an irresistible force that made immovable objects move. He taught us to redeem the promise of health care for America's senior generation, to whom the nation owes so much of its present greatness. He taught us to control the atom, to end the threat of nuclear annihilation, so that we could leave our children a safer world. He taught us to make freedom ring in America --freedom for black and brown as well as white; freedom to live and work and vote; freedom to sit at a public lunch counter, to learn in a public classroom, to play football on a public field. He added a new dimension in foreign policy by tapping the idealism of our youth. He led us beyond our planet and launched us toward the moon. And in our own hemisphere, he summoned us to a new alliance of effort for the benefit of those less fortunate than ourselves. That is the way it was with Jack. There was a sense of progress and adventure, a rejection of complacency and conformity. There was a common mission, a shared ideal, and above all the joy of high purpose and great achievement. Jack believed that America's promises, that challenges are opportunities in disguise, that our spirit can soar again.


  • We must cure our addiction to foreign oil. Not only does the administration claim we face the gravest crisis since World War II, they also claim they are making hard decisions to meet that crisis. Long before Afghanistan, they proposed a stand-by gasoline rationing plan, and that is all they propose today. The time for a stand-by plan is over. The time for a stand-up plan is now. We must adopt a system of gasoline rationing without delay – not rationing by price, as the Administration has decreed, but rationing by supply in a way that demands a fair sacrifice from all Americans. I am certain that Americans in every city, town, and village of this country are prepared to sacrifice for energy security. President Carter may take us to the edge of war in the Persian Gulf. But he will not ask us to end our dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf. I am sure that every American would prefer to sacrifice a little gasoline rather than shedding American blood to defend OPEC pipelines in the Middle East.
  • I am committed to this campaign because I am committed to those ideals. I am committed to an America where the many who are handicapped, the minority who are not white and the majority who are women will not suffer from injustice, where the Equal Rights Amendment will be ratified, and where equal pay and opportunity will become a reality rather than a worn and fading hope. I want to be the President who finally achieves full civil rights -- and who passes an economic bill of rights for women . And I am committed to an America where average-income workers will not pay more taxes than many millionaires, and where a few corporations will not stifle competition in our economy. I want to be the President who at last closes tax loopholes and tames monopoly, so that the free enterprise system will be free in fact. And I am committed to an America where the state of a person's health will not be determined by the amount of a person's wealth. I want to be the President who brings national health insurance to safeguard every family from the fear of bankruptcy due to illness. And I am committed to an America where the cities that are the center of our civilization and the farms that are the source of our food will be preserved and strengthened. I want to be the President who halts the loss of rural land to giant conglomerates and who declines to accept urban slums, unequal schools, and an unemployment rate in the inner city that approaches 50 percent. And I am committed to an America that will safeguard the land and the air for future generations. I want to be the President who stops the seeding of the earth with radioactive wastes from nuclear plants and who refuses to rely on a nuclear future that may hazard the future itself. And I am committed to an America that is powerful enough to deter war and to do the work of peace. I want to be a President who does not rush to a helter-skelter militarism or a heedless isolationism, who improves our military without gilding our weapons, who lifts at least a little the nuclear night that hangs over the world and who makes the world itself a little safer for both diversity and democracy. And for all these commitments, I have only just begun to fight.
  • A year ago, a number of us in Congress took up a cause and a challenge that had already stirred at the grassroots across the country. We called for an immediate, mutual and verifiable freeze between the United States and the Soviet Union on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.
  • Now in the 1980's, a moment of history and a sense of hope call your generation to work as great as any that has gone before -- the work of peace. The challenge comes with special warning now because the danger has become so present and so clear. The difference each of you can make, if all of you try, may mean the difference between peace and war, between a just society and a garrison state.
    • Address at Brown University (4 June 1983)
  • I hope for an America where neither "fundamentalist" nor "humanist" will be a dirty word, but a fair description of the different ways in which people of good will look at life and into their own souls.
  • We cannot pretend we do not see or hear when Louis Farrakhan predicts race war by 1986, or implies that 'Jewish editors and Jewish writers' distort the news, or threatens the life of a black reporter for doing his job, or refers to Hitler as 'a very great man,' or shakes the hands of Colonel Gaddafi. Such conduct can never be condoned -- and it must be unequivocally condemned.
  • Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy ... President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.
    • Senate speech opposing Bork’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court (1 July 1987)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act will end the American apartheid. The act has the potential to become one of the great civil rights laws of our generation. Disabled citizens deserve the opportunity to work for a living, ride a bus, have access to public and commercial buildings, and do all the other things that the rest of us take for granted. Mindless physical barriers and outdated social attitudes have made them second class citizens for too long. This legislation is a bill of rights for the disabled, and America will be a better and fairer nation because of it.

The Dream Shall Never Die (1980)

Concession speech in his campaign for nomination as the Democratic Presidential candidate against incumbent Jimmy Carter at the Democratic Convention in New York City (12 August 1980)
  • My fellow Democrats and my fellow Americans, I have come here tonight not to argue for a candidacy but to affirm a cause. I am asking you to renew the commitment of the Democratic Party to economic justice. I am asking you to renew our commitment to a fair and lasting prosperity that can put America back to work.
  • The serious issue before us tonight is the cause for which the Democratic Party has stood in its finest hours— the cause that keeps our party young— and makes it, in the second century of its age, the largest political party in this Republic and the longest-lasting political party on this planet. Our cause has been, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the common man— and the common woman. Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called “the humble members of society— the farmers, mechanics, and laborers.” On this foundation, we have defined our values, refined our policies, and refreshed our faith.
  • I speak out of a deep sense of urgency about the anguish and anxiety I have seen across America. I speak out of a deep belief in the ideals of the Democratic Party, and in the potential of that party and of a president to make a difference. I speak out of a deep trust in our capacity to proceed with boldness and a common vision that will feel and heal the suffer— the division of our party.
  • The economic plank of this platform on its face concerns only material things; but is also a moral issue that I raise tonight. It has taken many forms over many years. In this campaign, and in this country that we seek to lead, the challenge in 1980 is to give our voice and our vote for these fundamental Democratic principles: Let us pledge that we will never misuse unemployment, high interest rates, and human misery as false weapons against inflation. Let us pledge that employment will be the first priority of our economic policy. Let us pledge that there will be security for all who are now at work. Let us pledge that there will be jobs for all who are out of work— and we will not compromise on the issue of jobs. These are not simplistic pledges. Simply put, they are the heart of our tradition; they have been the soul of our party across the generations. It is the glory and the greatness of our tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land.
  • The 1980 Republican convention was awash with crocodile tears for our economic distress, but it is by their long record and not their recent words that you shall know them. The same Republicans who are talking about the crisis of unemployment have nominated a man who once said— and I quote—“Unemployment insurance is a prepaid vacation plan for freeloaders.” And that nominee is no friend of labor. The same Republicans who are talking about the problems of the inner cities have nominated a man who said— and I quote—“I have included in my morning and evening prayers every day the prayer that the federal government not bail out New York.” And that nominee is no friend of this city and of our great urban centers. The same Republicans who are talking about security for the elderly have nominated a man who said just four years ago that participation in Social Security “should be made voluntary.” And that nominee is no friend of the senior citizen. The same Republicans who are talking about preserving the environment have nominated a man who last year made the preposterous statement— and I quote—“Eighty percent of air pollution comes from plants and trees.” And that nominee is no friend of the environment. And the same Republicans who are invoking Franklin Roosevelt have nominated a man who said in 1976— and these are his exact words—“Fascism was really the basis of the New Deal.” And that nominee, whose name is Ronald Reagan, has no right to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
  • The great adventure which our opponents offer is a voyage into the past. Progress is our heritage, not theirs. What is right for us as Democrats is also the right way for Democrats to win.
  • It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them; but it is also correct that we dare not throw our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.
  • The demand of our people in 1980 is not for smaller government or bigger government but for better government. Some say that government is always bad, and that spending for basic social programs is the root of our economic evils. But we reply, the present inflation and recession cost our economy $200 billion a year. We reply, inflation and unemployment are the biggest spenders of all.
  • We are the party of the New Freedom, the New Deal, and the New Frontier. We have always been the party of hope. So this year, let us offer new hope— new hope to an America uncertain about the present but unsurpassed in its potential for the future.
  • Finally, we cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society. So I will continue to stand for national health insurance. We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone— and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge. Let us resolve that the state of a family’s health shall never depend on the size of a family’s wealth. The President, the Vice President, and the members of Congress have a medical plan that meets their needs in full. Whenever senators and representatives catch a little cold, the Capitol physician will see them immediately, treat them promptly, and fill a prescription on the spot. We do not get a bill even if we ask for it. And when do you think was the last time a member of Congress asked for a bill from the federal government? I say again, as I have said before, if health insurance is good enough for the President, the Vice President, and the Congress of the United States, then it is good enough for all of you and for every family in America.
  • There were some who said we should be silent about our differences on issues during this convention. But the heritage of the Democratic Party has been a history of democracy. We fight hard because we care deeply about our principles and purposes. We did not flee this struggle. And we welcome this contrast with the empty and expedient spectacle last month in Detroit, where no nomination was contested, no question was debated, and no one dared to raise any doubt or dissent.
  • For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
    • This has sometimes been misquoted as "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die."

Robert F. Kennedy Medal speech (June 1981)

Remarks given when the Robert F. Kennedy Medal was presented to Ethel Kennedy (5 June 1981)
  • Mr. President and Mrs. Reagan and friends of my brother here at this ceremony and everywhere, on behalf of Ethel and her children and all the members of our family, let me thank you, Mr. President, for this great honor that you have given to Robert Kennedy. And it is appropriate that he should receive it from you, for he understood so well that the common love of our country transcends all party identification and all partisan difference. And you should know that after he debated you on international television in 1967, my brother Bob said that Ronald Reagan was the toughest debater he ever faced and, obviously, he was right.
  • Robert Kennedy was a man of action but also of vision. From memory, he so often quoted Shaw's words that they were finally his own by-words. And so he dreamed things that never were and said, "Why not?" And I hope that when we think of him now, we will think as he did of all those who have no one else to care for their concerns. He gave his strength for those who were weak. He gave his voice for those who had no special interest to speak for them, and he always remembered those who were forgotten. He had an uncommon feeling for the common people who make America work. He had often walked the corridors of power in this White House and conferred with the mighty here, but he could walk with equal grace through migrant camps or talk with utter ease to workers on an assembly line.
  • There was at once an intensity and a gentleness in him that made him a unique spark of hope in a dark time. The violence that struck him down has threatened and touched so many others. The nation and the world have felt the pain so recently. Those of us who were with Robert Kennedy when he died in 1968 felt a special sense of relief this year, Mr. President, at your own recovery from the attack against you. And today, all the Kennedys feel a special sense of pride in the brother, husband, father, and son who went before us. He was often misunderstood in life. But people everywhere know how much he meant, for they have missed him so much all the years since his loss. To you, Mr. President, to the Congress, and to our fellow citizens, we are grateful for this gracious tribute today. Our family is grateful to Ethel, the light of his life, who stood with him on countless platforms around the nation and around the world, a friend who has sustained our spirits in dark passages and bright days.
  • And I speak here for many others who loved Robert Kennedy as well. How proud our remarkable mother is of what he did and of this recognition. And if they were here, that pride would be shared by my father, by Joe and Jack and Kathleen, who always knew that while Bobby was the smallest, he had the biggest heart. Thirteen years ago at this hour, Robert Kennedy lay dying of his wounds. And accepting this medal in his memory, I would say again what I said when we took leave of him. He was a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. And my prayer would be the same. Those of us who loved and who took him to his rest that day continue to pray that what he was for us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. Thank you.


  • I won't yield to anyone about guns in our society. I know enough about it.
  • She was a blessing to us and to the nation? and a lesson to the world on how to do things right, how to be a mother, how to appreciate history, how to be courageous. No one else looked like her, spoke like her, wrote like her, or was so original in the way she did things. No one we knew ever had a better sense of self. ... No one ever gave more meaning to the title of first lady.
  • I come here as a Democrat. I reject such qualifiers as New Democrat or Old Democrat or Neo-Democrat. I am committed to the enduring principles of the Democratic Party, and I am proud of its great tradition of service to the people who are the heart and strength of this nation -- working families and the middle class. I would have lost in Massachusetts if I had done what Democrats who were defeated in other parts of the country too often tried to do. I was behind in mid-September. But I believe I won because I ran for health reform, not away from it. I ran for a minimum wage increase, not against it. I continued to talk about issues like jobs, aid to education, and job training. And I attacked Republican proposals to tilt the tax code to the most privileged of our people. I stood against limiting welfare benefits if a mother has another child, and I will stand against any other harsh proposals that aim at the mother but hit and hurt innocent children. I spoke out for gun control, and against reactionary Republican proposals to abandon crime prevention as a weapon in the war on crime. I rejected the Republican double standard that welcomes government as benign when it subsidizes the affluent, but condemns government as the enemy when it helps the poor. I ran as a Democrat in belief as well as name. This turned out to be not only right in principle -- it was also the best politics.
    • "What Democrats should Stand For," (11 January 1995), as quoted in Vital Speeches of the Day, 0042742X, 2/1/95, Vol. 61, Issue 8
  • If Democrats run for cover, if we become pale carbon copies of the opposition and try to act like Republicans, we will lose -- and deserve to lose. As I have said on other occasions, Democrats must be more than warmed-over Republicans. The last thing this country needs is two Republican parties. If we fall for our opponents' tactics, if we listen to those who tell us to abandon health reform, or slash student loans and children's programs, or engage in a bidding war to see who can be the most anti-government or the most laissez-hire, we will have only ourselves to blame. As Democrats, we can win, but only if we stand for something.
    • "What Democrats should Stand for," (11 January 1995) as quoted in Vital Speeches of the Day, 0042742X, 2/1/95, Vol. 61, Issue 8
  • Never say in grief you are sorry he's gone. Rather, say in thankfulness you are grateful he was here.
  • If we set the precedent of limiting the First Amendment, in order to protect the sensibilities of those who are offended by flag burning, what will we say the next time someone is offended by some other minority view, or by some other person's exercise of the freedom the Constitution is supposed to protect?
    • Constituent letter (1997)
  • There are some who seek to wreck the peace process. They are blinded by fear of a future they cannot imagine—a future in which respect for differences is a healing and unifying force. They are driven by an anger that holds no respect for life—even for the lives of children. But a new spirit of hope is gaining momentum. It can banish the fear that blinds. It can conquer the anger that fuels the merchants of violence. We are building an irresistible force that can make the immovable object move.
  • We are filled with unspeakable grief and sadness by the loss of John and Carolyn, and of Lauren Bessette. John was a shining light in all our lives, and in the lives of the nation and the world that first came to know him when he was a little boy. He was a devoted husband to Carolyn, a loving brother to Caroline, an amazing uncle to her children, a close and dear friend to his cousins, and a beloved nephew to my sisters and me. He was the adored son of two proud parents whom he now joins with God. We loved him deeply, and his loss leaves an enormous void in all our lives. John had many gifts and gave us great joy, most especially when he brought his wonderful bride Carolyn into our lives. They had their own special brand of magic that touched everyone who knew and loved them. We are thankful for her life and for their lives together.
  • We loved Carolyn and share in the grief of the Bessette and Freeman families at the tragic loss of both Carolyn and Lauren. Carolyn and Lauren were exceptional and accomplished young women who reflected the extraordinary qualities of their family. The Bessette and Freeman families will always be in our thoughts and prayers. At this most difficult time, we rely on our faith in God. We are more grateful than we can ever say for the support of our family, our friends, and so many of our fellow Americans who opened their hearts to John. We also thank in a very special way the men and women who have worked well and long and hard in these past days to find John, Carolyn, and Lauren. We will never forget the dedication, the professionalism, and the sensitivity they have shown. We pray that John, Carolyn, and Lauren will find eternal rest, and that God's perpetual light will shine on them.
  • We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years.

Educate America Act (February 1994)

Remarks on the Educate America Act (8 February 1994)
  • Madam President, I yield myself 4 minutes. Just to review for the membership exactly where we are, we will commence voting at 10 o'clock and the first vote will be on a school choice amendment by Senator Coats. Our position is in opposition to this. We addressed this issue in 1990. We had a good debate on this at the end of last week. We believe that scarce resources should not be utilized for private schools but should be focused on the public schools of this country. That position is supported overwhelmingly by the American people. Second, we will have a Grassley amendment to protect the parental role in surveys administered to children. I thank the Senator from Iowa. We support that amendment. We think it strengthens the Gephardt language which exists in current law.
  • Third will be Senator Mack's amendment on the role of the States. We oppose his position, and we are supported by the Governors, as well as the heads of the State agencies dealing with education. We hope that the Senate will reject this amendment. Next will be the Helms amendment requiring parental consent for distribution or provision of condoms or other contraceptive devices or drugs or information about contraception. We recommend voting no, and instead we hope that the Senate will support an amendment which Senator Jeffords and I have offered restating the law which has been in effect since 1981, which involves parents to the extent possible. So we will vote on the Helms amendment first and then on the amendment which Senator Jeffords and I have offered.
  • Then there will be the Jeffords amendment, which is a sense of the Senate that does not impose unfunded mandates, of which we are in strong support. Finally, there will be a Gorton amendment to the school-to-work legislation. The Senator from Washington would provide tax credits for the hiring of summer youth. We are in opposition to the Gorton amendment, and there will be a motion to table the amendment. We have tried to work this issue out. There may be changes in the Summer Youth Program, but this amendment would not really provide any kind of accountability, no assurance that at the end of the summer these young people would continue to work. We do not know how decisions would be made as to which companies would be able to get the approval of the young people. So we recommend tabling the Gorton amendment.
  • We will then move on to the Goals 2000 legislation. We still have pending the final passage of both Goals 2000 and the School-to-Work Program. There are two or three items left: The Levin school prayer amendment to Goals 2000, and another amendment offered by the Senator from North Carolina relating to that; Senator Dole's School-to-Work amendment on paying for the program; and Senator Coverdell's amendment on paying for earthquake relief. We are still in the process of trying to work these out. I am hopeful we will be able to do so. Again, I thank all of the Members for their attention. As I mentioned earlier, we worked out a great majority of the amendments, and we are thankful to all of our colleagues. We are hopeful that we will be able to conclude consideration of both of these measures today. I reserve the remainder of my time.

Health Security Act (February 1994)

Remarks on the Health Security Act (8 February 1994)
  • Mr. President, this afternoon, in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, the Congressional Budget Office submitted its detailed views on President Clinton's Health Security Act. CBO is usually a quiet place, but in recent months it has been the quiet at the center of the storm, as all sides in the health care debate have awaited CBO's analysis of President Clinton's Health Security Act. Now, CBO's verdict is in, and after all the ideological smoke dissipates, it will be clear that CBO's analysis is a solid vote of confidence in the administration's plan. The plan is sound economically. The numbers add up. The CBO analysis concludes that the plan will provide health security for all Americans, and bring health care costs under control. No reputable study has concluded that any of the opponents' plans will reach those goals--not the Cooper plan, and certainly not any of the Republican plans. There is a health care crisis today because too many families have no insurance and because health care costs are out of control. The President's plan deals effectively with these two basic issues. It guarantees coverage for every American. And it brings health care costs under control. It means that the economy will grow, our living standards will improve, and America will be able to compete more effectively in the international marketplace.
  • The CBO report specifically confirms that the long-term effect of the President's plan will be to reduce the Federal deficit. While there are differences between the OMB estimates and the CBO estimates, there is broad and welcome agreement by both budget agencies that the President's plan can be paid for by savings in the current system. The differences between the estimates are small, as the CBO analysis itself states. With further refinements in the cost data, the differences will be reduced. Only minor adjustments are needed in the program to assure that there is no increase in the deficit, even in the early years of the program. For example, one significant difference between the OMB and CBO is the CBO believes employers will be able to manipulate the system to achieve greater savings than they are entitled to. By improving the enforcement mechanisms in the bill, that gamesmanship can be reduced or eliminated. On the technical issue of budget treatment, CBO has been careful to describe the premium payments as receipts, not taxes. In asserting that these premiums should be part of the Federal budget, I believe that CBO is wrong. Premiums under the Health Security Act are paid to private insurance companies, not to the Federal Government. Never before has money not paid to the Government and not spent by the Government been included in the budget.
  • The requirement that individuals and businesses contribute to the cost of private health insurance coverage is no different than the requirement to pay a minimum wage or to purchase auto insurance if you drive a car. None of these transactions are considered to be part of the Federal budget or State budgets. They are regulatory requirements that affect private sector activity, but the government does not collect or spend tax dollars. As a matter of common sense, whatever the technical scoring of the program, the American people know that the premiums they paid for private insurance yesterday did not become governmental receipts today because of CBO's conclusion. Average citizens know that health insurance premiums under the President's plan are premiums--nothing more, nothing less.
  • The opponents of the President's plan and the special interest groups that stand to gain from continuation of the status quo will try to shift the debate away from CBO's fundamental conclusion--which is that the President's plan will guarantee universal, comprehensive health insurance coverage and save money at the same time. The real issue is not the technical question of whether the President's plan or another plan should be included in the Federal Budget. The real issue is which plan does the job of ending the Nation's health care crisis. By this standard, CBO's analysis is a convincing vote of confidence in President Clinton's plan. None of the plans advanced by the President's opponents can claim a similar seal of budget approval.

Death of Tip O'Neill (February 1994)

Remarks on the passing of Tip O'Neill (10 February 1994)
  • Mr. President, the death of our friend Speaker Tip O'Neill last month has deprived the Nation of one of its most beloved leaders. Tip was a giant in every way--a giant of a man, a giant of a Speaker, a giant of a friend. He never lost the common touch. Massachusetts has lost one of the greatest public servants it ever had, and all of us whose lives he touched have lost a wonderful friend. By his side, through all those great years, was another great O'Neill, the woman who means so much to all of us and who meant the world to Tip, the woman he always called the biggest contributor to all his campaigns--Millie O'Neill. They had five extraordinary children who share so many of the finest qualities of their parents--Tommy and Kip and Michael and Susan and Rosemary. I think Tip finally got tired of waiting for the Red Sox to win the pennant.
  • There was the time, shortly after the Supreme Court's decision in Roe versus Wade in 1973, when Cardinal Medeiros called Tip and asked to see him on a matter of great urgency. With some trepidation about the purpose of the visit, Tip agreed to see him right away. As it turned out, Cardinal Medeiros was extremely concerned about a powerful hurricane that had just devastated the Cape Verde Islands. He had a specific request for Tip--to see if $8 million in emergency relief could be included in the foreign aid appropriations bill. Tip, with that irrepressible twinkle in his eye, replied, "Your Eminence, I'll put $16 million in, if you won't mention Roe versus Wade." One of Tip's most famous stories concerned the gift by Henry Ford of $5,000 toward a new hospital in Ireland. Unfortunately, the local newspaper the next day reported that the gift was $50,000. The editor apologized profusely for the mistake, and said he'd run a correction right away, explaining that the gift was only $5,000. It took Henry Ford about 10 seconds to realize what was happening, and he said, "No, don't do that. I'll give you the $50,000, but on one condition--that you put a plaque over the entrance to the hospital with this inscription--'I came unto you, and you took me in.'"
  • And of course, all of us in Congress quickly learned to host fundraisers the way Tip O'Neill did it--a thousand dollars if you came, and two thousand dollars if you didn't. Tip was scrupulously neutral in the 1980 Democratic primaries between President Carter and myself. But he told me that every night, before he went to sleep, he was secretly getting down on his knees and praying that we would have another Irish President of the United States. The prayer was a little ambiguous--but Tip's friend Ronald Reagan was very grateful. There was never any secret about the genius of Tip O'Neill. In his years as Speaker of the House, the entire Nation came to know him and love him as we did in Massachusetts. He was a Speaker who was never afraid to speak out for the average man and woman--the worker trying to keep a job, the child going hungry in the night, the family struggling to make ends meet, the senior citizen trying to live in dignity in retirement.
  • All of those Americans are better off today because of Tip O'Neill. When his political opponents tried to make him a symbol of the past, they succeeded only in turning him into an even greater national hero than before. He was the glue that held the Democratic Party together in the Reagan years, and no one could have done it better. He was also the only man we knew in Washington who was bigger than the budget deficit. One thing for sure about Tip O'Neill--when you saw him, no one ever said, "Where's the beef." And no one ever said that about his bedrock beliefs either. We loved to compare our diets and joke about them. People often tell me that I have to lose more weight if I want to stay in public life. It seems that they don't care about my vision of the country, as long as I can see my toes. I told that to Tip once, and he said "What are toes?"
  • He never mortgaged his beliefs to the passing fashions of the time. He walked with Presidents and Kings, but his favorite stroll was always down the street in Cambridge to Barry's Corner. He became one of the most powerful men in the world--but he never forgot the worker in Somerville, the senior citizens in East Boston, the barker in North Cambridge, the young family starting out whose grandparents he knew. His Irish smile could light up a living room, the whole chamber of the House of Representatives, and the entire State of Massachusetts. The congressional district he served had also been President Kennedy's district when my brother was in the House--and my grandfather Honey Fitz' before that.
  • There was no better way to spend an evening than to hear my brother swapping Irish stories with Tip. Jack loved him, and so did all the Kennedys. I'm sure that in heaven now, Tip is leading them all in a glorious round of "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time." It may be apple blossom time up there, but here on earth, a beautiful blossom is gone. Still, the Speaker will always be with us in our mind's eye, in the hearts of thousands of his friends, and the tens of millions more who never met him, but whose lives are better today and whose hopes are brighter because he was a Speaker who spoke so powerfully for them. In an era so much pretension and superficiality and polldriven decisions in public life, Tip O'Neill was the real thing, and we were fortunate to have him as our leader.

Sen. Kennedy's closed-door impeachment statement (February 1999)

Entered into congressional record (12 February 1999)
  • Every four years, citizens of our country exercise one of the most important rights of our democracy--the right to vote for the President of the United States. This constitutional privilege is valued by all Americans and envied by millions around the world. It proves that the will of the majority will prevail, and that power will be transferred peacefully through the election process from one President to the next, time and again.
  • The debate surrounding the Impeachment Clause was significant. By first expanding and then narrowing the clause, the Framers clearly intended that the President could be removed from office for 'crimes' beyond treason and bribery, but that he could not be removed for inefficient administration or administration inconsistent with the dominant view in Congress. Impeachment was not to be the illegitimate twin of the English vote of 'No Confidence' under a parliamentary system of government. The doctrine of separation of powers was paramount. The President was to serve at the pleasure of the people, not the pleasure of the Congress, and certainly not at the pleasure of a willful partisan majority in the House of Representatives.
  • As Charles Black stated in his highly regarded work on impeachment, the two specific impeachable offenses--treason and bribery--can help identify both the 'ordinary crimes which ought also to be looked upon as impeachable offenses, and those serious misdeeds, not ordinary crimes, which ought to be looked on as impeachable offenses..." Using treason and bribery as "the miners' canaries," Professor Black states that "high crimes and misdemeanors, in the constitutional sense, ought to be held to be those offenses which are rather obviously wrong, whether or not 'criminal,' and which so seriously threaten the order of political society as to make pestilent and dangerous the continuance in power of their perpetrator."
  • The distinguished historian, Professor Arthur Schlesinger, told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, the "[e]vidence seems to me conclusive that the Founding Fathers saw impeachment as a remedy for grave and momentous offenses against the Constitution; George Mason said, great crimes, great and dangerous offenses, attempts to subvert the Constitution." In addition to Professor Schlesinger, over 430 law professors and over 400 historians and constitutional scholars have stated emphatically that the allegations against President Clinton do not meet the standard set by the Constitution for impeachment. The scholarly support for the argument that the charges against President Clinton do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses--even if they are true--is overwhelming, and it cannot be ignored.
  • The law professors wrote, "[i]t goes without saying that lying under oath is a very serious offense. But even if the House of Representatives had the constitutional authority to impeach for any instance of perjury or obstruction of justice, a responsible House would not exercise this awesome power on the facts alleged in this case." The historians wrote, "[t]he Framers explicitly reserved [impeachment] for high crimes and misdemeanors in the exercise of executive power. Impeachment for anything else would, according to James Madison, leave the President to serve 'during the pleasure of the Senate,' thereby mangling the system of checks and balances that is our chief safeguard against abuses of power . . . Although we do not condone President Clinton's private behavior or his subsequent attempts to deceive, the current charges against him depart from what the Framers saw as grounds for impeachment."
  • The House Managers apparently made no attempt to obtain scholarly support for their opposition. It is a fair inference that they did not do so because they knew they could not obtain it. The House Managers argue that because the Senate convicted and removed three federal judges for making perjurious statements, we must now convict and remove the President. But, to determine whether or not President Clinton should be removed from office requires the Senate to do more than make simplistic analogies to federal judges. Removal of the President of the United States and removal of a federal judge are vastly different. The President is unique, and his role is in no way comparable to the role of the over 900 federal judges we have today. The impact on the country of removing one of 900 federal judges is infinitesimal, compared to the impact of removing the only President we have. And the people elect the President for a specific four year term, while federal judges are appointed for life, subject to good behavior. These distinctions are obvious, and they make all the difference.
  • Other precedents also undermine the House Managers' insistence that the Senate is bound to remove President Clinton from office. The House Judiciary Committee refused on a bipartisan basis to impeach President Nixon for deliberately lying under oath to the Internal Revenue Service, although he under reported his taxable income by at least $796,000. During the 1974 Judiciary Committee debates, many Republican and Democratic members of the Committee agreed that tax fraud was not the kind of abuse of power that impeachment was designed to remedy. Finally, the House Managers argue that President Clinton must be removed to protect the rule of law and cleanse the office. It is not enough, they say, that he can be prosecuted once he leaves office. But protecting the rule of law under the Constitution is not the proper standard for removal of the President. Before impeaching and convicting the President, the Senate must find that he committed 'Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.' As Professor Laurence Tribe testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, '[i]f the proposition is that when the President is a law breaker, has committed any crime, then the rule of law and the take care clause requires that one impeach him, then we have rewritten the [impeachment] clause.'
  • The Constitution has guided our country well for two centuries. The decision we make now goes far beyond this President. As we decide whether President Clinton will be removed from office, the future of the Presidency and the well-being of our democracy itself are at stake. How will history remember this Congress? The Radical Republicans in the middle of the 19th century were condemned in the eyes of history for using impeachment as a partisan vendetta against President Andrew Johnson. And I believe the Radical Republicans at the end of the 20th century will be condemned even more severely by history for their partisan vendetta against President Clinton.
  • The impeachment process was never intended to become a weapon for a partisan majority in Congress to attack the President. To do so is a violation of the fundamental separation of powers doctrine at the heart of the Constitution. It is an invitation to future partisan majorities in future Congresses to use the impeachment power to undermine the President. It could weaken Republican and Democratic Presidents alike for years to come. This case is a constitutional travesty. We deplore the conduct of President Clinton that led to this yearlong distraction for the nation. But we should deplore even more the partisan attempt to abuse the Constitution by misusing the impeachment power.


  • I believe that the most enduring legacy of the September 11 attacks is a new sense of community among all Americans. Four hundred years ago, the poet John Donne wrote that "No man is an island." Today, our country reaffirms the truth of those words. We understand that if one of us is hurting, all of us hurt. This renewed national spirit leads us to reaffirm the basic social bond that unites us all. Every American should have the opportunity to receive a quality education, a job that respects their dignity and protects their safety, and health care that does not condemn those whose health is impaired to a lifetime of poverty and lost opportunity
  • I have come here today to express my view that America should not go to war against Iraq unless and until other reasonable alternatives are exhausted. But I begin with the strongest possible affirmation that good and decent people on all sides of this debate, who may in the end stand on opposing sides of this decision, are equally committed to our national security. The life and death issue of war and peace is too important to be left to politics. And I disagree with those who suggest that this fateful issue cannot or should not be contested vigorously, publicly, and all across America. When it is the people's sons and daughters who will risk and even lose their lives, then the people should hear and be heard, speak and be listened to. But there is a difference between honest public dialogue and partisan appeals. There is a difference between questioning policy and questioning motives. There are Republicans and Democrats who support the immediate use of force - and Republicans and Democrats who have raised doubts and dissented.
    • Speech at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies opposing the buildup to the Iraq War (27 September 2002)
  • The question is not whether we will disarm Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction but how. And it is wrong for Congress to declare war against Iraq now, before we have exhausted the alternatives. It is wrong for the president to demand a declaration of war from Congress when he says he has not decided whether to go to war. It is wrong to avert our attention now from the greater and far more immediate threat of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorism.
  • You are what this debate is about. It is about good people who come to America to work, to raise their families, to contribute to their communities, and to reach for the American Dream. This debate goes to the heart of who we are as Americans. It will determine who can earn the privilege of citizenship. It will determine our strength in separating those who would harm us from those who contribute to our values.
  • What is the price, we ask the other side? What is the price that you want from these working men and women? What cost? How much more do we have to give to the private sector and to business? How many billion dollars more, are you asking, are you requiring? When does the greed stop, we ask the other side? That’s the question and that’s the issue.
  • I'd like to speak for a moment regarding the Hate Crimes Amendment -- at a time when our ideals are under attack by terrorists in other lands, it is more important than ever to demonstrate that we practice what we preach, and that we are doing all we can to root out the bigotry and prejudice in our own country that leads to violence here at home. Now more than ever, we need to act against hate crimes and send a strong message here at home and around the world that we will not tolerate crimes fueled by hate.
  • So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now. I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we do not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we together will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future. My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey - to have the courage to choose change. It is time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama.
  • I get up very early in the morning. I enjoy the quietness, the stillness, the rawness in the winter and fall. It's a special time.
    • Esquire: The Meaning of Life (2009), p. 81
  • I will never forget the 5th anniversary of the Peace Corps where I sat with the very first group of volunteers. I asked each of them why they decided to get involved. They said it was the first time anyone asked them to do anything for their country. Today, another young president has challenged another generation to give back to their country

DNC Speech (2000)

Speech to the Democratic National Convention (16 August 2000)
How proud he would be of Caroline this evening -- and of the magnificent woman she has become.
  • Thank you, Caroline. I love you and thank you for all that you mean to me, to our entire family, and to millions of Americans everywhere. I see in you the poise and the strength of purpose that belonged to your father -- and the dignity and grace of your mother that inspired a nation. I remember election night in November of 1960. The results were so close that my brother went to bed still not certain that he had won. It was nearly dawn when victory finally became clear. And here is how Jack learned about it -- from three-year-old Caroline, who woke him up by jumping on his bed and shouting, "Good morning, Mr. President." It was the first time he ever heard those words from anyone. How proud he would be of Caroline this evening -- and of the magnificent woman she has become. How proud he would be of Al Gore and our party and the new barrier of bigotry we are breaking down with the choice of Joe Lieberman as the next Vice President of the United States.
  • This truly is a homecoming for me. It was here, in this City of Angels, on a warm summer night forty years ago, that America first looked across the New Frontier. A New Frontier, as my brother said, where there were "unsolved problems ..., unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice; unanswered questions of poverty and surplus." We were given just a thousand days on that journey of hope. Yet the challenge of those days and the resonance of my brother's words are still with us. Because today, our generation faces its own new frontier. And we are called upon to address our unsolved problems; our unconquered prejudice; our unanswered questions. Will we dare to dream of a far horizon -- or will we look inward; look backward; lower our sights and narrow our vision? That is the choice we face in the election of 2000.
There have been only three times in my life that I have supported candidates for President as early and as enthusiastically as I have supported Al Gore. Two of them were my brothers.
  • If you believe that prosperity is a challenge to do better -- that we have to seize this extraordinary moment to make progress in providing decent, quality health care that all Americans can afford -- If you believe that we must provide access to health care for all our children -- that we must provide access to prescription drugs for all our seniors -- that we must assure for all our citizens that medical decisions be made by doctors and nurses and not by HMOs that put profits ahead of patients' health-- Then this is your convention. This is your cause. And I ask you to dedicate yourself to elect Al Gore as the next President and of the United States. There have been only three times in my life that I have supported candidates for President as early and as enthusiastically as I have supported Al Gore. Two of them were my brothers.
  • I support Al Gore for President, not solely because he has helped lead us to the strongest economy in American history -- as important as that is. I support him with my whole resolve because I know from his record -- and not just from his words -- that Al Gore will not stop fighting -- Al Gore will not stop striving -- until we have quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
  • Two weeks ago, at the convention in Philadelphia, we heard a partisan negative attack on the past eight years as a time of lost opportunity and stalemate.
  • Well, I've been there on the front lines fighting for working families. And I can tell you, we weren't coasting, we were seizing an opportunity when Al Gore and I worked with Republican Senator Orrin Hatch to pass landmark health care coverage for children. And now, two million more children have health coverage. That's called progress -- not partisanship -- and that is Al Gore's way. We weren't drifting, we were moving ahead when Al Gore and I worked with Republican Senator Nancy Kassebaum to see that a family doesn't lose health coverage just because a parent loses a job or changes jobs. And today, we are working with Republicans and Democrats alike to make it even stronger. That's called progress -- not partisanship -- and that is Al Gore's way. We weren't gridlocked, we were raising up our nation when Al Gore and I worked with Republican Senator Jim Jeffords to make sure that people with disabilities can keep their health care when they join the workforce. And today, more and more of the disabled are putting their abilities to work for themselves and for America. That's called progress -- not partisanship -- and that is Al Gore's way.
  • I've been a Democrat all my life -- and I am proud of it. But I say to you, there is no Democratic or Republican way to heal a sick child. There is no Democratic or Republican way to make the right medical decision. No Democratic or Republican way to fight cancer, or ease the pain of HIV and AIDS. This is not the time to play partisan games with human health. Let there be no mistake about it. There is a profoundly deep difference between the Democratic and Republican nominees on this issue -- this life and death issue -- of health care for all Americans. Al Gore is the only candidate committed to moving this country, step by step, to universal health coverage -- starting by covering every child by the year 2004. He believes in it heart and soul.
  • So I say to all Americans, regardless of party -- if you believe we should use our prosperity to make our children healthy and whole -- fight for Al Gore. Because he's fighting for you. Al Gore will put Medicare in an iron-clad lockbox where politicians can't raid it or cut it. He will veto any effort to use money from Medicare for anything but Medicare. So if you believe in quality health care for all our seniors, no matter what your politics -- fight for Al Gore. Because he's fighting for you. Al Gore believes that no senior citizens in America should ever have to choose between the food on their table and the medicine they need. So if you believe in prescription drug coverage for our seniors -- then fight for Al Gore. Because he's fighting for you. Al Gore has been leading the fight for a real Patients' Bill of Rights. He's been working with leaders of both parties to do it. So if you believe medical decisions should be made by doctors and nurses on the basis of sound medicine -- not by accountants and number-crunchers, sitting at computer screens hundreds of miles away -- then fight for Al Gore. Because he's fighting for you. The fight for health care has been the driving dream of my public service -- starting with my brother's crusade to pass Medicare into law.

America's New Challenges: National Security, Economic Recovery and Progress for All Americans (January 2002)

Remarks delivered at National Press Club (16 January 2002)
President Bush deserves high marks for his leadership as Commander in Chief in meeting this supreme challenge. Together with my fellow citizens and my fellow Democrats, I support him and I salute his resolve in the fateful fight against terrorism -- and for freedom from fear.
  • Two years ago this month, we celebrated the beginning of a new century -- indeed, a new millennium. Many people called it the beginning of a new age. But a new age does not necessarily obey the calendar. A very different kind of new age was ushered in four months ago. The tragedy of September 11 changed America as few events have changed us before in our history. We were stunned by our own vulnerability, shaken by the destruction, and touched by the terrible human losses. President Bush deserves high marks for his leadership as Commander in Chief in meeting this supreme challenge. Together with my fellow citizens and my fellow Democrats, I support him and I salute his resolve in the fateful fight against terrorism -- and for freedom from fear. A week from today, Congress returns to renew our part in serving and strengthening the nation.
  • Our first priority is to stand with the President and our armed forces on the frontlines overseas, and to do all we can to protect the homefront against possible new acts of terrorism. But there is another challenge which also demands the best of all of us, and which I hope we can approach with a new bipartisanship. We must reinforce the nation on the homefront by meeting the great domestic challenges here with the same determination that we all have brought to the great challenge from abroad. Despite all the dangers and difficulties, we enter this period with extraordinary possibilities for progress.
  • A new spirit has taken hold in America -- a new sense of community -- a new willingness and new commitment to help others -- a new understanding that we are all in this together -- a new recognition of the helpful role of government -- a new readiness on the part of the vast majority of citizens to ask what they can do for each other and for our country. In this new time, it is right to stand with the President on the war front -- and it is just as right to stand up for fundamental principles on the home front. We can and should support President Bush's conduct of the war, and still ask the administration to join us in addressing the urgent needs of our people in areas like jobs, education, health care, and equal rights. Some suggest that the nation is returning to business as usual -- to politics as usual. I reject that view. The spirit of September 11th is a mandate for new missions, not a summons to selfishness. If we accept less, we fail the innocent men and women and rescue workers who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. We fail the courageous men and women in uniform who have served so brilliantly in recent months. We fail the spirit of September 11th. We fail America itself.
  • Clearly, our number one priority at home -- now and in the years ahead -- is the strength of the national economy. It makes no sense for anyone in Congress or the Administration to try to blur the very obvious difference between the short run and the long run. Both are essential for our economic security, and we face major challenges on each. The most urgent short-run need is economic recovery. I strongly support Senator Daschle's plan. I believe Democrats are ready to work with the President for the kind of immediate, temporary, and fair stimulus that is essential to end this lingering recession and put our national economy back on the path of solid growth for the future. Neither side will get all it wants if we work together here. But surely we can agree to focus on the large number of laid-off workers and their families who are hurting, and who deserve help the most while they look for new jobs. Surely we can agree on the tax incentives that will actually encourage business investment now, without letting them become a transparent pretext for unaffordable longer-term tax giveaways or special interest bonanzas that the country can't afford.
  • In this new session of Congress, we must also join together to do a better job of laying the groundwork for meeting and mastering the longer-run challenges before us. We are being called to action again, as we have been called before at decisive times in our history. We are fighting a war against terrorism -- and we are also fighting for our values. Our resources may be limited, but 2002 can be a year in which we make progress on the great unfinished business of our society. One essential priority is to continue our intense focus on education. For too long, public education has been highly unequal from kindergarten through 12th grade. The new school reform law can go a long way to close the gap -- but only if we stay the course, and provide the increased resources and guidance essential for schools and students to meet and fulfill the high potential of this far-reaching and genuinely bipartisan achievement. I was proud to stand with President Bush as he signed that reform into law. But this is no time for any of us to rest on any laurels. We have only just begun to renew our education system. We have much more to do to realize the ideal of "no child left behind."
  • The next great frontier of our commitment to reform should be early childhood education. The politics are complicated, but the goal is simple. Every child should start school ready to learn. Science tells us that the roots of academic difficulty are established well before the first day of school. In the absence of intervention, children from low-income families score consistently lower on developmental tests by age 2, and the differences increase over time. Children who fall far behind before they enter school have a far more difficult time catching up -- but well-designed programs can enhance their learning in the preschool years. And yet, after nearly 35 years of investment in Head Start, only three out of every five eligible children are enrolled. Early Head Start is the only federal program serving infants and toddlers who are living in poverty -- yet it reaches less than five percent -- five percent -- of eligible children. I welcome Mrs. Bush's strong interest and dedication to this issue. She will testify next week before our Education Committee in the Senate. I believe that she and the President can and will join us in working together to develop an effective strategy to promote learning in the earliest years of life. Like elementary and secondary education, building an effective early education system for the nation will take time, commitment, and resources. Therefore, I propose that we set a bold yet realistic goal. Over the next five years, we should develop the capacity to assure that every child has access to quality early education, starting at birth.
  • Success in this effort will be achieved if we meet three core objectives. First, we must demand value from our investments. In early education, value is reflected in the quality of a range of important services. The most significant factors are the knowledge and skills of the service providers, and their capacity to form strong relationships with children and their families. These personal characteristics are influenced by training and compensation. Yet thirty states have no training requirements for preschool teachers before they begin to teach. Parking lot attendants are generally paid more to watch our cars than early education professionals are paid to teach our youngest children. On average, early education providers earn 15,430 dollars a year. It can and must become a national priority to change this -- to improve the skills, the pay, and the retention of the professionals who teach our children at the dawn of life.
  • Second, we must acknowledge that school readiness is not only about promoting early literacy and other academic skills. Science tells us that how children feel is as important as how they think, particularly if we are concerned about their capacity to succeed when they get to school. Knowing the alphabet and counting to 10 are not enough, if you can't sit still or pay attention in the classroom. All young children, regardless of their God-given abilities and economic circumstances, must be engaged in caring relationships and provided with a variety of opportunities to learn in a safe and stimulating environment. We already know what is needed to promote the intellectual, social, and emotional skills required to learn in school. The time has come for this nation to use that knowledge to help all children achieve that competence -- for their own sake, for the sake of their teachers and classmates, and for the sake of America's future.
  • Third, it is imperative to develop genuine partnerships among federal, state, and local governments to create a more unified and effective system of early education services for all children, particularly those at greatest risk. Forty-one states are already investing in early education. The early childhood landscape includes a variety of programs, from subsidized child care facilities and private nursery schools to Head Start centers and early intervention services for children with special needs. Too few of the efforts are well-coordinated with each other, but all are guided by the same underlying science. On this shared knowledge base, we must now build stronger ties and eliminate arbitrary barriers. The time has come to coordinate and strengthen the capacity of Head Start and Early Head Start, child welfare, child care, and agencies that administer welfare reform.
  • I have worked with other members of Congress on bipartisan legislation to provide resources to states and localities to bring existing early learning programs together, and to begin a universal initiative in early education. Although the selection of specific service priorities is best left to states and communities, the federal government can provide greater incentives for the states to create more coherent systems, setting and implementing strategies to assure that young children -- all young children -- will be healthier, more secure, and ready to learn. We must narrow the gap between what we know and what we do, to give every young child in America the best possible start in life. We must see to it that millions of children are not left far behind even before they enter the first grade. In the next year, we must address this vastly important frontier of education reform -- the first five years of life.
  • Our goals for America also demand a higher priority for health care. One out of six Americans has no health insurance. The problem is becoming worse, not better. Increasingly, people with disabilities and other illnesses are being shut out of coverage. As the cost of care increases and jobs become less secure, more and more Americans are losing the coverage they have, and they fear that the sudden illness of a child or a loved one will bankrupt their family. As a result, too many too often go without the health care they need. In fact, those without health coverage are four times more likely not to get medical care than insured Americans. Lack of health insurance is the seventh leading cause of death in the nation today. Medical bills too often force the uninsured to default on their debts or lose everything they have. Inevitably, as medicine advances and as more and more medical miracles become available in this extraordinary new age of the life sciences, health care is increasingly beyond the reach of large numbers of Americans. America cannot have the best workforce in the world if we do not also have the healthiest workforce in the world. Our failure to guarantee health care is one of our greatest failures as a nation. More than ever, in our modern society, health security should be and must be a basic right for all. The battle for quality, affordable health care has never been easy. If it were, we would have enacted it a generation ago. But as the new spirit after September 11 calls forth the best in all of us, it challenges us to move forward to good health care for all Americans. We saw what could be achieved in education reform with genuine bipartisanship. There are disagreements on health policy, as there were and are on education. But at least we should be able to work together for goals widely shared by all Americans, and endorsed by both Presidential nominees in 2000.
  • We can and should take two major steps this year -- pass the Patients Bill of Rights and pass prescription drug coverage for all senior citizens. Too often today, HMOs and insurance companies dictate treatment based on economic cost, not medical need. A good Patients Bill of Rights is nearing final approval, and we should complete it as soon as possible. Too many patients across the country have waited too long. It's time for Congress to give them the simple justice of basic protections against HMO abuses. On Medicare, as prescription drug prices soar, the shameful gap in that basic and beloved federal program becomes increasingly unconscionable. Senior citizens are suffering needlessly because they cannot afford the drugs they need. Medicare is a solemn promise to every citizen. It says: "Work hard. Contribute to the system. Play by the rules. And we will guarantee affordable health care when you are old." But the world has changed since 1965, and the old ways of Medicare will not do.
  • The power and potential of prescription drugs have revolutionized health care. We break the promise we made then if we leave senior citizens with a kind of half-Medicare that leaves them without medicines essential to health or even life itself. Some say that in light of the budget projections, this nation cannot afford prescription drug coverage. But just as a family budget is a statement of a family's priorities, a national budget is a statement of national priorities -- and our national priorities are profoundly wrong if we continue to force senior citizens to choose between their prescriptions and their food or their heat or a decent home. It is long past time to close the gap on prescription drugs -- to make Medicare whole again -- and 2002 can and must be the year when we do it. This effort -- and the plight of the elderly -- must not become the pretext for a partisan plan which disguises yet another attempt to privatize Medicare. Our seniors deserve better than that. So I am here today to say that we will not rest, we will not give up, we will not stop until our senior citizens have a genuine Medicare prescription drug benefit that works well for all of them. If we have the will, we can take three other steps -- this year -- to ease the growing national crisis over access to health care.
  • We can build on the Children's Health Insurance Program enacted in 1997 -- by passing the bipartisan legislation introduced last year, to enable parents to qualify for the coverage already available to their children. We can pass the bipartisan legislation now pending to provide affordable health care to families with disabled children. And we can begin, on a bipartisan basis, to fashion legislation that will require employers with more than 100 workers to be good corporate citizens and provide basic health insurance for their workforce. I know how hard it will be to hammer out an agreement here. But we must try. And if at first we cannot achieve a reasonable approach across party lines, then we must continue to press the case. I believe that we can ultimately prevail -- because I believe the American people, across the political spectrum, are ready for national health reform.
  • We must act on the minimum wage as well. The downturn in the economy has placed strains on the lives of many families. And, as wages stagnate, workers at the bottom suffer most. The current minimum wage is only five dollars and fifteen cents an hour. Americans earning the minimum wage, working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, earn only 10,700 dollars a year -- nearly 4,000 dollars below the poverty level for a family of three. On this meager income, they fail to earn enough to afford adequate housing in any area of this country. We must raise the minimum wage by a dollar fifty an hour -- and raise it now. No one who works for a living should have to live in poverty. In addition, the spirit of September 11 calls for policies that not only help working men and women earn a decent living, but assure them time to meet their obligations to their families and their communities. We must stop asking parents to solve the work-family conflict on their own. We are in a new time and a new place, and we need new solutions. And we must ask private businesses to be partners in this mission. Our future depends on the development of healthy, well-educated, responsible citizens. Yet our government provides far less support for working and non-working parents than the governments of other nations. This abdication of modern responsibility contributes to the high rate of child poverty in the nation, and the tremendous pressure on today's parents to choose between the jobs they need and the children they love.
  • We must embrace a new model of the workplace -- one that values the needs of parents and all others who care for children. Parents should have the right to leave work to care for a sick child or participate in a parent-teacher conference. New parents deserve assistance so they can afford leave to care for their newborn or newly adopted children. Part-time work must become an affordable and valued alternative to full-time work. Businesses should employ technologies that offer the flexibility to work from home. No one should be required to work overtime when they know it is not healthy, safe, or feasible. We must secure more affordable, more accessible, high quality child-care. Next, we know that those who lost their lives on September 11th were not the only victims of that sad day. For every life lost, there are children, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, friends, and colleagues who will forever feel the pain of that day. As we have sought to reach out to them, we have found that our nation's safety net falls short of our nation's generous spirit. Survivors' benefits under Social Security are inadequate to care for the many children who lost their parents. Workers' compensation is insufficient to provide the injured with adequate support for a lifetime of pain. Unemployment insurance and health insurance do not go far enough to help laid-off workers. We must close the gaps in our safety net. The changes we make can be among the most meaningful memorials of all to those who lost their lives on September 11th. At the same time, we must protect the pensions and retirement savings of all workers from the threat of future Enrons. We cannot allow corporate executives to cash in and take home millions while their workers' retirement savings disappear.
  • We must continue our long-standing bipartisan support of the collective bargaining process, which enables workers and businesses to settle their disputes effectively and fairly. We must continue to advance the cause of civil rights by strengthening enforcement and oversight, not weakening it. We should extend equality by prohibiting employers from using sexual orientation as a basis for hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation. It is time -- it is long past time -- to write the Employment Non-Discrimination Act into the laws of this land. We know of victims in the World Trade Center -- contributing, hard-working citizens, who were gay. So was one of the heroes of Flight 93. They died because they were Americans. And their memory should tell us that all Americans should be able to live their lives as full citizens of a free society. And now more than ever after the indelible sight of the horrors inflicted by hate on September 11th, we must pass hate crimes legislation. Let us send a strong, unequivocal message that hate-motivated violence in any form, from any source, for any reason, will not be tolerated anywhere in this country.
  • We must continue the battle for responsible gun control, by closing the gun-show loophole, by reversing any misguided attempt to undermine the existing background-check system, and by letting the FBI review federal gun records in the investigation of terrorism and other crimes. As we work together to strengthen our immigration laws against terrorists, let us also move forward on lasting and long-overdue reforms that will benefit immigrant workers and their families, along with American business and the American economy. This is a time to stand up for freedom, to heal hurt and injustice, and most of all to serve others. The spirit of assisting others is at an all-time high in our history. It is time for a renewed national resolve to enhance national and community service, so that far more opportunities and incentives will be available for Americans to give something of themselves to help others here at home and in other lands. Effective action against international poverty must become a new national priority. We must do more -- much more -- to ease the harsh conditions in so much of the world that are breeding grounds for despair, extremism, and violence. To succeed -- not just now, but in the years ahead -- the global war on terrorism must also be a global war on poverty. This is not only a matter of moral obligation; it is an urgent, practical, indispensable element of our future national security.
  • As night follows day, some will of course say that we cannot afford to move America forward in all these ways. But it is clear that we can afford to do what is right if together we return to fiscal responsibility. Many fiscally responsible voices, including a number of leading members of the business community, have said we cannot now afford -- if we ever could -- the 1.7 trillion dollar cost of the tax cuts enacted last year. The doubts that many of us had before the nation was attacked about the affordability of those tax cuts have become certainties in the wake of September 11th. The spirit of this new time is placing major new demands on our national resources, and those demands must take priority. We cannot meet them while making all of the planned future tax cuts unless we raid Social Security and Medicare and cut health, education, and other vital goals. To me, that is not only unacceptable; it is a violation of fundamental pledges that both parties gave in the 2000 campaign.
  • So why can't we come together, without recrimination or placing blame, and agree on a simple basic proposition. Whatever the merits or demerits of last year's tax bill, it was enacted in what now seems a very different and distant time. Today, for the sake of our country, we must transcend the old boundaries of debate. We must think anew, and act responsibly. We can and should postpone a portion of the future tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers. Those tax cuts are not scheduled to be made until 2004 and later. We should put them on hold until we are certain that we can afford a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens, make the needed investments in education and health care, protect Social Security and fully provide for the common defense. My proposal would put on hold approximately 350 billion dollars in future tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans during the next ten years. Over one trillion dollars of tax cuts will still take effect as scheduled. Families earning less than 130,000 dollars a year and filing joint returns would not be affected. No taxpayers would pay a higher tax rate than they pay now. In fact, income tax rates for everyone will still be lower in 2002 and in succeeding years than they were in 2001. The child tax credit would be increased as planned, and marriage penalty relief would be provided as scheduled.
  • We can achieve 350 billion dollars in savings by avoiding these future reductions in the tax rates paid by the wealthiest taxpayers in the highest income brackets, and by maintaining the tax on estates above 4 million dollars. These wealthiest taxpayers will receive less of a tax reduction than they anticipated -- but they will still be receiving billions of dollars in new tax breaks. These future tax cuts for those at the top are not part of the fight against the recession. They are not scheduled to occur until long after the economy emerges from the downturn. In fact, taking fiscally responsible action now will actually help the economy -- by leading to reductions in long-term interest rates that have remained stubbornly high because of the fear that unaffordable tax cuts will lead to growing federal deficits throughout the decade. Reducing that threat will reduce the cost of long-term borrowing for businesses, and provide a stimulus for new job creation now. Future additional tax breaks for the wealthy do not deserve higher priority than strengthening education -- or covering prescription drugs under Medicare -- or protecting Social Security -- or meeting other urgent national priorities.
  • I have no illusions that the work ahead will be easy, or that the debates in Congress will be easily resolved. We had to disagree, discuss, and listen to each other to reach the historic reform in education that the President has just signed into law. Positions that were once regarded as non-negotiable had to give way. We will not end all our differences, nor should we yield on fundamental principles in which we believe. Of course, some will disagree with some of the proposals I have made today. Some no doubt will disagree with most or all of them. But surely, for example, a future tax cut for the wealthiest, which they have not yet received, is not a matter of high principle. We have more urgent needs at home as well as abroad. And we cannot be strong abroad if we are weak at home. So I look forward to this new session of Congress, to the dialogue ahead, and the progress we can make. This is a time of testing unlike any other in our history. Our adversaries thought they could force us to retreat. But we will not and must not retreat -- abroad or at home. The American people have shown that they are ready for great missions that meet the demands of this new age. They are the creators of the new spirit of September 11th. Now, we in public life must match the standard the people have set. I intend to do my best to see that we do what is best -- not just for one political party or the other, but for America and its enduring ideal of "liberty and justice for all."

Nomination of Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State (January 2005)

Senator Kennedy's remarks on opposing Condoleezza Rice's nomination for Secretary of State (25 January 2005)
There is no doubt that Dr. Rice has impressive credentials. Her life story is very moving, and she has extensive experience in foreign policy. In general, I believe the President should be able to choose his Cabinet officials, but this nomination is different because of the war in Iraq. Dr. Rice was a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war, and it has been a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire. In these circumstances, she should not be promoted to Secretary of State.
  • Mr. President, I commend my friend and colleague, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, for the way he conducted the hearings on the nomination for Secretary of State. I think many of us who were not members of the committee but followed the hearings very closely were enormously impressed by the conduct of the hearings, by the flexibility he showed in permitting Senators to follow up on questions so we could reach the real nub of the situation and yet to move the hearings along in a timely way. That is part of the long tradition that is associated with the chairman of the committee, and it is one of the reasons, among others, that he is held in such high regard and respect in the Senate. I intend to oppose Condoleezza Rice's nomination. There is no doubt that Dr. Rice has impressive credentials. Her life story is very moving, and she has extensive experience in foreign policy. In general, I believe the President should be able to choose his Cabinet officials, but this nomination is different because of the war in Iraq. Dr. Rice was a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war, and it has been a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire. In these circumstances, she should not be promoted to Secretary of State.
  • There is a critical question about accountability. Dr. Rice was a principal architect and advocate of the decision to go to war in Iraq at a time when our mission in Afghanistan was not complete and Osama bin Laden was a continuing threat because of our failure to track him down. In the Armed Services Committee before the war, generals advised against the rush to war, but Dr. Rice and others in the administration pressed forward anyway despite the clear warnings. Dr. Rice was the first in the administration to invoke the terrifying image of a nuclear holocaust to justify the need to go to war in Iraq. On September 9, 2002, as Congress was first considering the resolution to authorize the war, Dr. Rice said: We do not want the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud. In fact, as we now know, there was significant disagreement in the intelligence community that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program, but Dr. Rice spoke instead about a consensus in the intelligence community that the infamous aluminum tubes were for the development of nuclear weapons. On the eve of the war many of us argued that inspectors should be given a chance to do their job and that America should share information to facilitate their work.
  • In a March 6, 2000, letter to Senator Levin, Dr. Rice assured the Congress that the United Nations inspectors had been briefed on every high or medium priority weapons of mass destruction missile and UAV-related site the U.S. intelligence community has identified. In fact, we had not done so. Dr. Rice was plain wrong. The Intelligence Committee report on the prewar intelligence at page 418 stated: "Public pronouncements by Administration officials that the Central Intelligence Agency had shared information on all high and moderate priority suspect sites with United Nations inspectors were factually incorrect." Had Dr. Rice and others in the administration shared all of the information, it might have changed the course of history. We might have discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction. The rush to war might have been stopped. We would have stayed focused on the real threat, kept faith with our allies, and would be safer today. America is in deep trouble in Iraq today because of our misguided policy, and the quagmire is very real. Nearly 1,400 of our finest men and women in uniform have been killed and more than 10,000 have been wounded. We now know that Saddam had no nuclear weapons, had no weapons of mass destruction of any kind, and that the war has not made America safer from the threat of al-Qaida. Instead, as the National Intelligence Council recently stated, the war has made Iraq a breeding ground for terrorism that previously did not exist. As a result, the war has made us less secure, not more secure. It has increased support for al-Qaida, made America more hated in the world, and made it much harder to win the real war against terrorism, the war against al-Qaida. Before we can repair our broken policy, the administration needs to admit it is broken. Yet in 2 days of confirmation hearings, Dr. Rice categorically defended the President's decision to invade Iraq, saying the strategic decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein was the right one. She defended the President's decision to ignore the advice of GEN Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, who thought that a large number of troops would be necessary if we went to war. She said: "I do believe that the plan and forces that we went in with were appropriate to the task."
There was no reason to go to war in Iraq when we did, the way we did, and for the false reasons we were given. As a principal architect of our failed policy, Dr. Rice is the wrong choice for Secretary of State.
  • She refused to disavow the shameful acts of torture that have undermined America's credibility in Iraq and the world. When Senator Dodd asked her whether in her personal view, as a matter of basic humanity, the interrogation techniques amounted to torture, she said: "I'm not going to speak to any specific interrogation techniques . . . The determination of whether interrogation techniques are consistent with our international obligations and American law are made by the Justice Department. I don't want to comment on any specific interrogation techniques." This is after Senator Dodd asked about water-boarding and other interrogation techniques. She continued: "I don't think that would be appropriate, and I think it would not be very good for American security." Yet, as Secretary of State, Dr. Rice will be the chief human rights official for our Government. She will be responsible for monitoring human rights globally, and defending America's human rights record. She cannot abdicate that responsibility or hide behind the Justice Department if Secretary of State.
  • Dr. Rice also minimized the enormous challenge we face in training a competent Iraqi security force. She insisted 120,000 Iraqis now have been trained, when the quality of training for the vast majority of them is obviously very much in doubt. There was no reason to go to war in Iraq when we did, the way we did, and for the false reasons we were given. As a principal architect of our failed policy, Dr. Rice is the wrong choice for Secretary of State. We need, instead, a Secretary who is open to a clearer vision and a better strategy to stabilize Iraq, to work with the international community, to bring our troops home with dignity and honor, and to restore our lost respect in the world. The stakes are very high and the challenge is vast. Dr. Rice's failed record on Iraq makes her unqualified for promotion to Secretary of State and I urge the Senate to oppose her nomination. I yield the floor.

Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act (July 2007)

Remarks on the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act (27 July 2007)
  • According to the article, Ambassador Crocker has called for establishment of an immigrant visa program for these Iraqi employees. In fact, Senators Smith, Biden, Hagel, Lieberman, Leahy, Levin, and I have introduced legislation which establishes a program to do precisely what Ambassador Crocker calls for. Our legislation establishes an immigrant visa program for Iraqis who have worked for or directly with the United States government for at least 1 year. Our Government now provides such special immigrant visas but only for Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters. Our bill expands it to include Iraqis in other professions who have been employed by us or who have worked directly with us. In addition, our legislation creates additional options for Iraqis who are under threat because of their close association with the United States to apply to our refugee resettlement program.
  • The Senate is obviously divided on the best overall policy to pursue on the war. I thought it was a mistake from the beginning. That is no secret. Some of our colleagues are convinced that continuing the use of military force in Iraq is necessary to protect our national security. But our divisions on that issue should not obscure the fact that all of us on both sides of the aisle agree that America owes an immense debt of gratitude to these Iraqis, and we have a special responsibility to help them. They have supported our effort, saved American lives, and are clearly at great risk because of it.
  • Many Iraqis have been working with our Armed Forces, our diplomatic mission, and our reconstruction teams in Iraq and have performed valiantly, and their lives are at risk. Many have lost their lives and many more have lost their homes, their property, and their livelihood. For some, it will be too dangerous to ever return home. America has a special obligation to keep faith with the Iraqis who now have a bulls-eye on their back because of their association with our Government. Our bipartisan legislation will establish the kind of process that Ambassador Crocker, David Keene, Julia Taft, Roy Medved, Lanny Davis, and many others have called for to help these Iraqis who have sacrificed so much for the United States. I ask unanimous consent that the Washington Post article and other articles I have mentioned be printed in the Record. I urge my colleagues to support our legislation, S. 1651, to keep the faith with the many brave Iraqis whose lives are in great danger because they have the courage to work with the United States.

Oral History (March 2008)

Remarks on healthcare (28 March 2008)
  • I thought maybe I’d start off initially with my association with the health issue and also the family’s association with the health issue and why it was a central force in my life growing up, and with my early days in the United States Senate—how the opportunity to become involved in it from a policy point of view, in many respects, goes back to my own observations about the importance of health in a personal way, but also in a way that exposed me as a young person to the policy considerations, and the impact that it had on me.
  • I have commented, probably earlier in our discussions, about the fact that my sister Rosemary [Kennedy] was mentally and intellectually challenged, and how she always was considered special in our family. As a small child, I found that I could play with children that were my age, or in many instances I would find that she was both available, acceptable, and desiring to play ball with me. We’d take a soccer ball and either play soccer, or bounce a lighter ball, like a beach ball, and play tag with it, or other children’s games. She always seemed to be willing to spend more time with me than the others, who were always distracted in playing other games. I noticed that she had some special kinds of needs. I observed that early as a child. I didn’t understand it in the early years, and it took a while, obviously, to grasp the full dimensions of that, but I noticed that that was different. The regular kinds of childhood activities with childhood accidents when I was growing up were probably not different from other kinds of activities of large families.
I suppose the first major challenge that I saw was in 1961 when my father had the very serious stroke, which really disabled him in a very important way. He lived on for a number of years afterwards, but I saw the enormous—I was exposed to the dramatic moments of the time right after he had that stroke, about whether he was going to live or die, and also to the whole issue of being significantly disabled, and the corresponding actions of incredible care and loving attention that he was able to receive.
  • I suppose the first major challenge that I saw was in 1961 when my father had the very serious stroke, which really disabled him in a very important way. He lived on for a number of years afterwards, but I saw the enormous—I was exposed to the dramatic moments of the time right after he had that stroke, about whether he was going to live or die, and also to the whole issue of being significantly disabled, and the corresponding actions of incredible care and loving attention that he was able to receive. The dedication of nurses and healthcare personnel, and the patience and the love and commitment of so many of those who worked with him, took an immense amount of time. Attention to this was a very powerful factor in terms of my whole observation of this part of my life. He eventually went to the Rusk Institute in New York and got specialized attention from this fellow, Henry Betts, who is still alive and now runs an institute in Chicago. Betts was a junior figure to [Howard A.] Rusk, who was the national leader in rehabilitation. This was a first dramatic opening in my life, other than Rosemary.
  • I was elected to the Senate, and in the early years as my family arrived I was exposed to the power of asthma with a small child, Patrick [Kennedy]. We detected when he was two that he was a chronic asthmatic. He had the test that is given to children, where they have pinpricks along their arm—I think it’s 24 pinpricks—of different kinds of allergies. His arm looked like a nuclear meltdown; it just absolutely reddened, all of it. He was allergic to everything. My brother Jack [John F.] Kennedy was allergic to cat fur and my sister Pat [Patricia Kennedy Lawford] had allergies, and maybe the others had some, but I certainly noticed those as they were growing up. My brother Jack would come back to the Cape and would go into his room, and he’d come out about an hour later, storming mad, wondering who let the cat sleep in the bed while he had been away, or some cat had come on in. He’d be battling the allergies for the next several hours.
  • When Patrick developed it, we brought in medical experts at least once a year and sometimes twice a year, from around the country. They came in at nighttime. They would examine Patrick and talk with him, and then they would go off by themselves and have a meeting at a hotel, and then they would come over in the morning and brief me on their understanding of his condition, and their recommendations. Since he was chronic, there was a whole series of different types of medications that they would talk about, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. That continued all the way up through his graduation from Andover, even in his last year at Andover. The last meeting was at the Parker House in Boston. He had some time off and my son [Edward M. Kennedy, Jr.] Teddy was going to take some time off, so the three of us were going to go away, and the doctor said, "Don’t go further than 35 or 40 minutes from a hospital." So we went down to Key Biscayne, because we were 35 minutes away from the hospitals down in Miami. So, it was a major factor and a force as he was growing.
  • Later, in the early ’70s, we were faced with the health challenges that Teddy was facing with cancer of the leg. I always thought it was osteosarcoma, but I’ve been told it may have been chondrosarcoma. I remember very clearly his talking about and complaining about a bump on his leg, and how it wasn’t getting any better and it was getting sorer. One morning I was headed to Boston and I was getting briefed about the various health meetings I was having in Boston. One of the staff people, Phil Caper, was also a doctor, and I had mentioned to Phil about the swelling. He examined Teddy and said, “You’ve got to get an X-ray on it right away.” I remember hearing later in the morning when I was up in Boston, about how they looked at the X-ray and saw the cancer, and that this was just enormously serious—life threatening. It was going to take immediate and dramatic action, which presented a wide range of both emotional and real decisions about the removal of his leg—the conversation prior to that time and the conversation after that time. At the same time, my niece was getting married, Kathleen [Kennedy]. So this was a very emotional, roller-coaster period in my life. And then much later, my daughter Kara [Kennedy] found out that she had lung cancer. That was as a result of a picture that had been taken of her lung after—She had pain in her shoulder and was under medical attention for stenosis, and the very good doctor suggested that they take a picture of the shoulder. They found that she had lung cancer, and we had to move within a matter of hours. We went, later that afternoon, up to Johns Hopkins and had discussions up there with their medical team, which were very unsatisfactory. Then we had medical consultations with some experts and made a decision to follow a different route, which was surgery, which has worked out very successfully. She’s now four or five years free from any cancer.
Here was the person who was the President of the United States, with all of the assets that he could have, and still was unable to see a positive outcome of this.
  • So healthcare was something that had a real powerful impact. Also, in 1962, I remember the incident when my brother lost a baby to hyaline membrane disease. The child lived three days and then died at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. The interesting factor and force of all of this is that, if the child had been born two years later, it would have survived. The progress that was made in medical research would have permitted the child to survive. Here was the person who was the President of the United States, with all of the assets that he could have, and still was unable to see a positive outcome of this. Within all of that, financial security was certainly present. It was present also in 1964 when I had the plane crash we’ve described earlier. I was able to get medical attention, initially up at the Cooley Dickenson Hospital, and then later at the Lahey Clinic that was located in Boston, before it moved down outside of Boston in later years.
  • I was exposed to the most extraordinary groups of doctors and nurses at the Lahey Clinic. Dr. [Herbert] Adams, who was the head doctor up there—there may have been a day when he didn’t come in and see me, but I don’t remember it. This included Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, the whole time I was up there. The commitment and the dedication of the doctors and the nurses, and the support systems and the professionals, was just breathtaking. I think it probably led me to the very strong commitment that I’ve always had, politically, to strong support for nurses, for support personnel, because I always recognized their indispensable role. The doctors, yes, but the support personnel for their patience and their time. During the period when Teddy—Now we’re probably into ’74, so we’ll have to come back to how this intersected with the policy judgments and decisions. It was all within a few years of each other—the dramatic time that I had in the Dana-Farber Institute in Boston with my son Teddy. He had a treatment and we found out that he had this leg cancer that required the loss of his leg, and that’s a special circumstance that we can get into.
  • After we made a judgment about which regime we were going to follow—there had been several recommendations, and we spent hours trying to make a decision. What was interesting was that there were alternative ways of proceeding, and when the final decision was made, which I made, those who had different regimes were all very supportive. There was a real coming together of people who were all looking for a common resolution and solution to the challenges they were involved in. They all had different pathways, but nonetheless, once the judgment was made, they all were incredibly supportive. It required that Teddy spend three days every three weeks at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, taking methotrexate, which is a medication that helps kill cancer cells, and this other medication [citrovorum] that helps to alleviate some of the adverse effects of methotrexate. That involved me giving him shots, which I did, both before he came on up to Boston and then right after he had finished the immediate treatment—for the next couple of days intensively, and in the night a couple of times, and then periodically, every four or five days after that.
  • Experimental research basis by the NIH. There were probably less than a hundred that had gone through it, but they had had positive numbers on that. Before that, it was very tough; the survival rate was not good, you know, 15 to 20 percent. But after this it was 85 or 90 percent. So that was enormously encouraging. After about three months of my being involved in it, they had completed the whole regime for it. While it’s an experimental drug, it’s paid for by the company or whoever is producing it. But once it’s stopped, the payment stops, and these families had to pick it up. Since it’s an experiment, none of the insurance would cover it, except mine, which is Senate insurance, federal employees’ insurance. The cost is $2,700 a treatment. These parents would be in the waiting room—they had sold their house for $20,000 or $30,000, or mortgaged it completely, eating up all their savings, and they could only fund their treatment for six months, or eight months, or a year—and they were asking the doctor what chance their child had if they could only do half the treatment. Did they have a 50 percent chance of survival? A 60 percent chance of survival?
  • This was a very powerful presentation, in terms of starkness, about health and health insurance and coverage, and basically the moral issue presented here. We were all in the same circumstance. This is a very rare disease that could have happened to anybody. It happened to a United States Senator; it happened to children of working families. There was nothing that they could do about it, and they were being put through this kind of system. This is about as stark as you can get, in terms of the compelling aspects of this issue. A secondary issue that came up that’s related to the public policy is family and medical leave. I’d have to leave the Senate on Friday, and I could go and tell Mike Mansfield that I wasn’t going to be there. Just in terms of the votes, I wasn’t going to be there. It wasn’t a question about me not—I should be with my son and I was going to be with him, but I wasn’t going to lose my job because I was leaving, and I was getting paid for it while I was gone. I was getting paid leave on this.
I didn’t use the example of Teddy, really, during the debate, until the very end, during the final windup. After President [George H.W.] Bush I vetoed it in 1992, I sort of pulled out the stops on it.
  • At the time that we were debating family and medical leave, these families would lose their jobs if they didn’t show up, let alone get paid for it, you know? They would either lose their job for not showing up, or at least lose their pay, because they didn’t have the kind of coverage that we had in the United States Senate. That was at the same time that we were debating the family medical leave, and here you had about the most stark—the decision that parents have to make about whether to be with a child or—to have the job that they need, or the job that they love. I didn’t use the example of Teddy, really, during the debate, until the very end, during the final windup. After President [George H.W.] Bush I vetoed it in 1992, I sort of pulled out the stops on it.
  • I spent six months in the hospital and five months in a Stryker frame—six months in all—when my back was broken, and I saw the dedication of the people. I knew it was costing a chunk of change for the insurance companies to cover my health insurance on it, but it didn’t present itself—the starkness, the compelling aspects—about the pocketbook. And that has never left me. That aspect of it I’ve been constantly exposed to in the time that I’ve been in the United States Senate, and I go back to it on many different occasions, on the different hearings or things that follow this. One very important set of hearings that I had in the Senate were the hearings in the—We’re getting ahead a little bit but it’s probably worthwhile pointing out because it’s close to this subject matter. In ’78, when we took the committee across the country, we tried to match up, in the hearing, the panel that we’d have. We’d have one panel and we’d have probably ten witnesses, but we’d group them so that there were five subject matters. We would have the way that the United States covered the particular illness, and the way the Canadians covered it, just to present to the American people the difference, you know, how the systems were in terms of real life circumstances. We’d have what were common experiences in the particular areas that families would be affected.
  • One of the most dramatic that I still remember so clearly was in Chicago. It was two families that had children who had spina bifida. In the U.S. family the mother was a schoolteacher and the husband was a construction worker, and they made a good chunk of change and had a very good life. There was one other child in the family. Then the mother had to stop teaching school to take care of the child because it got sicker and sicker. And then, because the mother got run down, the husband quit his job. They went through all their savings looking after this child, and the result was that the state was going to take away the child because the parents could no longer take care of this child. You had the mother and the father completely distraught about this. This was out in Chicago.
  • Then—this was very interesting—in Canada, the family with the spina bifida child, and they were taking care of it. While the mother had the spina bifida child, she had a family of four: three of them had graduated from high school and were out. She had one left, and she went and adopted three children who were disabled, and the governmental system paid for taking care of them—the food and the clothing and a stipend for the housing. You’d ask the mother why she took in these children and the mother’s response was, "I want to teach this child what love is all about."
  • You had this dramatic contrast between the system that was just wringing the last ounce of humanity out of a family, and this other system that was dealing with it in a humane and decent way, and a more economic way in terms of the whole process. I mean that was just one—I can remember it just as clearly as I’m here. You know, these things don’t leave you.
  • And they are just as much out there today. You could have that same hearing today in Chicago and you could have it in any city in America, and have the exact same results on it, and that part has even grown, because you’ve got so many more—I mean, I use the example of the parents that hear a child cry in the night and wonder whether they are $485 sick, because that’s what it costs to go to an emergency room. They listen to the child. Is the child getting better or sicker? They wait until the child finally goes to sleep and wonder whether the child is going to be worse in the morning, because they can’t afford the $500. Or they take that $500 that they put aside to educate their kids, and it’s gone. And that is what’s happening all across the country.
  • So this aspect of health and the coverage and the rest of the policy issues are all rooted in a very early association and personal attachment. Finally, the policy issues come and attach themselves in different ways, and we can talk about that. You can talk about how people who have a preexisting condition—Even Teddy, who has had cancer—even though he’s 47 years old, he could not get an individual insurance policy today, because he’s had cancer, even though he’s as healthy and strong as can be. He could not go out and buy, in the United States, an individual policy. That’s the way it is. That’s the way the system works on this. Obviously, he’s in a group—but then, if he left that group, could he still carry on through? You didn’t used to be able to, but you’ve got the [Nancy] Kassebaum bill now that says that they can’t discriminate against—if he’s gotten into the system, they can’t knock him out. But that’s sort of a feature of the policy. We can go back now to a time when we got started in the health policy issues, but I think it’s at least of some importance and consequence how we got into it.
  • A continuing aspect is that people are very fair, and they’re rather empathetic and sympathetic about their neighbors. This is something that they understand and they feel, and they appreciate. The question—you can continue to say, “Well, they may feel that, but if they’re going to be up against the wall and have to pay another big chunk of change, how long are they going to feel it?” I think there’s that kind of issue and question, and if the negative aspects are presented to them, in a way, they’ll be influenced by that as well. The idea of fairness in this country still has a ring to it that’s sort of overwhelming, such as when you’re talking about increasing the minimum wage, even among people who all do better than that. People understand it and they’re empathetic and go for it. People understand this. And what’s interesting is that every family knows somebody who has had the circumstances that I’ve talked about, and they feel strongly about it. They are wary.
  • There are ways of trying to undermine that, which the opposition is very clever at. I find that the arguments are old and they’re tired, but they still have a ring to them: the idea that you’re going to have a bureaucrat in every hospital who will be making medical decisions, the idea that hospitals will close, that doctors will leave, that the expenses will go on up through the roof, that you’ll have socialized medicine. All of these features can be manipulated in ways that can impact and affect people’s fundamental decency.
  • The way the system works, obviously, is whoever is the senior one gets the choice of the different committees. It appeared to me that Claiborne Pell was going to take the Health Committee and I was going to be on the Education Committee. I liked Senator Pell. I had been in the Senate for five years, and although that sounds like a long time, in time of the Senate it was a short time, and I’d been out a good chunk of that time because of the plane crash in ’64—I’d spent’64 out of it, and ’63 was a difficult year. Then we had the ’68 campaign and that was a difficult year as well. But now, in ’69, we’re looking at both the committees and where I’m going to spend time and how I can be the most useful and productive.
That was the time of Walter Reuther, whom I had known from the time he had been supporting my brother. He was very significant and a major figure, and highly regarded and respected.
  • That was the time of Walter Reuther, whom I had known from the time he had been supporting my brother. He was very significant and a major figure, and highly regarded and respected. The UAW [United Auto Workers] had been a union that had supported my brothers, as well, so there was a good association with that. In a meeting up in Boston—and I don’t remember who had set this up, probably one of our supporters from the UAW set it up in Boston at one of the hotels—I had an extensive meeting with Walter Reuther about their proposals for developing a national health insurance movement. Would I be willing to be involved, active and help lead it? That sounded like a great opportunity to me. They had demonstrated both effectiveness and commitment, and this was something that was enormously important, and could make a large difference. We were coming out of the period of the mid ’60s, where we had passed Medicare, in ’64 or ’65. We actually completed it in ’65, but there had been discussion, even in the Medicare, that this was only a part of the whole movement of comprehensive coverage.
  • I was aware of Harry Truman’s ’48 effort to try to get universal health care, and his disappointment, and that at least [Franklin D.] Roosevelt had looked at it in the ’30s and decided to go with Social Security rather than the health issue, and that it went back to Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive period, where he tried to move it along. So I knew the concept of the issue of national health insurance. I had heard enough, having been in the Senate during the ’64 battle, and in ’65, to know that we had taken a chunk of this but we hadn’t done the whole job. I had seen the success that they had had in ’64 and ’65 and thought that this was both a great opportunity and an area of very important need.
  • So, we had Reuther, and I was able to get a number of people who were co-sponsors of it, Democrats, and only one Republican. The one Republican was John Sherman Cooper, who was not a liberal Republican. I never could quite understand what that was really all about. I was a great pal of John Cooper. He was closest to my brother Jack, and a dear, dear, valued friend in the Senate. I’ve told the stories about John Cooper and the respect people had for him. But when we put in the bill the first time, we had one Republican and it was John Sherman Cooper. People sort of gasped. On the Democratic side, we had a good chunk—I don’t know, probably 30 to 35 Senators on there and we were on our way. I put it in with a Congressman who was on the Ways and Means Committee, Jim Corman, who was a very bright, smart person, who had worked with Reuther and had been for comprehensive, single-payer. This is basically the single-payer program.
  • Now we’re into the period of the ’70s, and we’re trying to think about how to go through—We go through a whole series of different maneuvers over a very considerable period of time. We’re trying to see how we can build a coalition and how we can expand the breadth of our support. One interesting phenomenon during this period of time is that Wilbur Mills, who was the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, an enormously powerful position, was interested in running for President. No one gave him much of a chance, but he thought that the way to do it was to be for national health insurance, and so this opened up—To have the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee being your ally on this was a very significant and important opportunity. He and I got along fine. I had never been all that close to him, but he respected my brother Jack, and they had some mutual friends. So we had this sort of dance, trying to get him into the program. He wouldn’t go for the single-payer program and through all of this period, we’re sort of adjusting and changing. The Republicans, even when they came our way later on, were always sort of holding back and always tipping the tide to the industry—and the industries that were most effective were the insurance industries and hospitals—during the series of debates. We suffered a very serious setback as we started to move ahead in the early ’70s, with the loss of—Walter Reuther was killed in an airplane crash. And also by the fact that Wilbur Mills got himself in trouble.
  • When we went with Wilbur Mills, they thought, in the ’74 period, ’76 period, that they were going to have a veto-proof Congress. They said, “Why are we making accommodations and adjustments now to try and get a bill, when we can wait, and we’re going to pick up all kinds of seats in the House and the Senate, have a veto-proof, and therefore, we’ll be able to get a much better bill?” It’s always the classic kind of circumstances, where you’re holding out for the perfect, rather than dealing with the good. This was the first example. The next example—and we may not want to get ahead of ourselves—was during the period where [Richard] Nixon was just getting started on Watergate, and getting impeached—the process of threatening for the impeachment. Mel [Melvin R.] Laird, who was very close to President Nixon, and had also been on the Ways and Means Committee or Appropriations Committee, was a very smart person and had talked to Nixon. They believed that if this was such a powerful issue and one with such popularity, that it might even save Nixon from impeachment.
  • We had conversations with Mel Laird about how we were going to proceed. He had basically the concept of pay-or-play, which we would grab today if we had that opportunity, which meant that you either have an insurance program for your people or you pay into a fund. That concept is used in Europe in their industry, not only for health but also for training programs. They have training programs with the requirement that you either have to train a certain percentage of your workers in a continuing training program, or you have to pay into a fund that will continue to train them, and so you have an ongoing and continuing training program. That was what we called the school-to-work program, which we actually implemented here during the [William] Clinton Administration. But the only way we could get it passed was if we sunsetted it, and we sunsetted it, and the Republicans wouldn’t vote to continue it, which was a good program. Now we’re into the ’70s, where Nixon gets impeached, and so that whole effort collapses.
  • Well, it really never came enough together, because when Labor sort of took a walk on this, that was a setback. I thought we still might be able to get it pulled together with the Republicans and enough Democrats on it, although Labor was teed-off at it. There was some division within the Labor movement on it. You know, it was always very interesting with Labor, because there was a great dichotomy. You had industrial unions that wanted it, because a third of all of their premiums that are paid are being used to cover somebody else. So those are lost wages. They understand that their economic interest is in getting universal coverage, because then they weren’t going to be picking up and paying for people who didn’t have it. So that made sense. They were going to increase their wages and have a stronger position, and it was sort of the right thing to do for other workers. They liked it. That’s one part of it.
  • The other part of Labor said that they don’t want any part of this program for universal coverage, because they want to be able to deliver it as part of their organizing. They want to be able to go out and say, “Join my union because we’re going to give you health insurance.” They’re not as interested in universal coverage, because that’s going to take away a major kind of an appeal that they would have. So you had lip service. You had some who were very strongly for it—the industrial unions; others who said they were for it and really were not; and others who basically sat on their hands because they said, “Why are we going along with this Kennedy proposal when we can use this as an organizing tool? We’re losing members, and we’re losing support in terms of working—this is a key way of getting it. It’s got a lot of grassroots support, and we use it as an organizing tool.” Of course they didn’t use it as an organizing tool. They didn’t do the follow-up on it. Andy Biemiller and [George] Meany and the other follow-on leaders were not interested really, in following Lane Kirkland. Lane Kirkland was more interested in the international Labor movement. I mean, he was somewhat interested in solidarity. He did do some good work in terms of the support of international, but he wasn’t really interested in this. We had a hard time keeping all of that moving.
  • You know, it depends on the unions, about where they are. Some of them have got other issues that are as important, if not more important, in terms of the narrow Labor issues. All of the railroad unions were concerned about Amtrak—that’s 31 of the unions who were all concerned about—that’s their particular part of it. The building trades were concerned about independent contracting. And they’re worried about immigration and this kind of thing that they get on the health. The number one issue for Labor today is the Employee Free Choice Act, to permit them to have card check-offs for organizing. That’s really the most powerful, although you still—this is one of the four or five issues that they’ll list, but they’ve got other issues as well. In a number of areas there is a heightened interest on the part of Labor, because in an increasing number of these negotiations they are losing ground because they are having to pay higher co-pays and higher deductibles. Therefore, it’s becoming more of an issue at the bargaining table, where it was sort off the bargaining table for years. Even in the UAW, it was never—all they would do is continue to make progress in coverage, and now they’re in a gradual kind of retreat. They made this macro deal recently, where they developed a foundation to offload some of the expenses—a rather complicated financial deal that helped them get out from some of the legacy costs on it. But I’d say that now, in many more union disputes, healthcare is front and center, but they still care about some of these other issues. We could go on in terms of where we are in the ’70s. We’ve gone through pretty much on Nixon.
  • Califano and I both went to the Holy Trinity Church here when our children were small, and part of the service was that, after 9:00 or 10:00 mass, the children would go down for Sunday school, and they would have a discussion there for the grownups. They’d have one of the Jesuits who would come over and lead the discussion, and they were always enormously interesting, very interesting, very gifted, talented lecturers. There were always a couple hundred people who were there with their children, and then, at whatever time, an hour later, you would break up and hook up with your children and drive them home.
Carter fired him because he thought he was becoming too friendly with me on this, there’s no real question. And once he left—I mean, he was the only one who really understood the healthcare issue—it was gone.
  • Carter found out that Califano and I were going to the same meeting, and he heard that they were just talking in general terms, and he became enormously suspicious of Califano. Califano never trimmed on Jimmy Carter’s principles. Wherever Carter came down, he stayed. You’d talk a little bit about it here and there, trying to glad-hand your bid on some of these kinds of things, which I understood. But he never trimmed, never played a game on that thing, and he stayed absolutely consistent. Carter fired him because he thought he was becoming too friendly with me on this, there’s no real question. And once he left—I mean, he was the only one who really understood the healthcare issue—it was gone. Eizenstat was, I thought, a positive. He wanted to be helpful in trying to bridge the gap. Califano didn’t want to have a split. It’s kind of interesting, in these notes, the extent that Jimmy Carter said that he didn’t want to have a split with us.
  • The basic point where it broke down was—He used the technique of saying that he had announced principles and that would be their commitment, and then he’d move on from there. But you have to announce as part of the principles whether you were going to have one bill or several bills, and he would not make it clear that it was going to be one bill, and he wouldn’t make it clear that, even if it was going to be one bill—We talked about, well, then it’s going to have to take the Congress to unwrap it. He wouldn’t go that far. We gave him that kind of alternative to preserve it, but he wouldn’t go there. He would only say, “We’ll get one bill and if we meet the economic points test further on down, then we’ll submit it so that it can have a second phase, and a third phase, and a fourth phase.” And that was the break. That was just completely unacceptable, in spite of the fact that we had a lot of conversation about how to do it and when to do it.
  • We had the attention, obviously, of Carter. He understood that the spending on health care was not unrelated to the spending on inflation. But there’s a way of dealing with both of those, and he wasn’t prepared to do that.
  • Yes. There was going to be no real opportunity to move it during the Reagan period. That’s when, as you might remember, I went from the Judiciary Committee back to the Labor Committee because there was going to be the massive assault on all the domestic programs. And, at that time, there was going to be the consolidation of all the block granting—all of these programs, some of which were block-granted. It seemed to me that it was just going to be important then to try to hold on to where you were in terms of all of the domestic programs, and that’s primarily what we were engaged in. We were involved and active in other issues then. We went to South Africa, and also we had Chile, and we had the arms control issues where there was some of the back-channeling with Reagan. But on the domestic, we weren’t going to get anyplace at all, and that was very apparent to me. What happened is he continued to have the continuing loss of coverage in health insurance and continuing increased expenditures. The indicators were still going the wrong way.

DNC Speech (2008)

Speech to the Democratic National Convention (25 August 2008)
  • My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here.
    And nothing — nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.
    I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.
  • For me this is a season of hope -- new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope.
    And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.
  • We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy called of going to the moon, he didn't say, "It's too far to get there. We shouldn't even try."
    Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge, and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon.
  • There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination — not merely victory for our Party, but renewal for our nation.
    And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
    • This last line references the last line of his DNC speech in 1980 where he said "the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Newsweek op-ed (July 2009)

Newsweek op-ed (17 July 2009)
  • In 1964, I was flying with several companions to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention when our small plane crashed and burned short of the runway. My friend and colleague in the Senate, Birch Bayh, risked his life to pull me from the wreckage. Our pilot, Edwin Zimny, and my administrative assistant, Ed Moss, didn't survive. With crushed vertebrae, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, I spent months in New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. To prevent paralysis, I was strapped into a special bed that immobilizes a patient between two canvas slings. Nurses would regularly turn me over so my lungs didn't fill with fluid. I knew the care was expensive, but I didn't have to worry about that. I needed the care and I got it. Now I face another medical challenge. Last year, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center removed part of the tumor, and I had proton-beam radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital. I've undergone many rounds of chemotherapy and continue to receive treatment. Again, I have enjoyed the best medical care money (and a good insurance policy) can buy.
  • But quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to. This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.
  • Nothing I'm enduring now can compare to hearing that my children were seriously ill. In 1973, when I was first fighting in the Senate for universal coverage, we learned that my 12-year-old son Teddy had bone cancer. He had to have his right leg amputated above the knee. Even then, the pathology report showed that some of the cancer cells were very aggressive. There were only a few long-shot options to stop it from spreading further. I decided his best chance for survival was a clinical trial involving massive doses of chemotherapy. Every three weeks, at Children's Hospital Boston, he had to lie still for six hours while the fluid dripped into his arm. I remember watching and praying for him, all the while knowing how sick he would be for days afterward. During those many hours at the hospital, I came to know other parents whose children had been stricken with the same deadly disease. We all hoped that our child's life would be saved by this experimental treatment. Because we were part of a clinical trial, none of us paid for it. Then the trial was declared a success and terminated before some patients had completed their treatments. That meant families had to have insurance to cover the rest or pay for them out of pocket. Our family had the necessary resources as well as excellent insurance coverage. But other heartbroken parents pleaded with the doctors: What chance does my child have if I can only afford half of the prescribed treatments? Or two thirds? I've sold everything. I've mortgaged as much as possible. No parent should suffer that torment. Not in this country. Not in the richest country in the world.
  • That experience with Teddy made it clear to me, as never before, that health care must be affordable and available for every mother or father who hears a sick child cry in the night and worries about the deductibles and copays if they go to the doctor. But that was just one medical crisis. My family, like every other, has faced many—at every stage of life. I think of my parents and the medical care they needed after their strokes. I think of my son Patrick, who suffered serious asthma as a child and sometimes had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment. (For this reason, we had no dogs in the house when Patrick was young.) I think of my daughter, Kara, diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002. Few doctors were willing to try an operation. One did—and after that surgery and arduous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, she's alive and healthy today. My family has had the care it needed. Other families have not, simply because they could not afford it.
  • Our response to these challenges will define our character as a country. But the challenges themselves—and the demands for reform—are not new. In 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt ran for a third term as president, the platform of his newly created Progressive Party called for national health insurance. Harry Truman proposed it again more than 30 years after Roosevelt was defeated. The plan was attacked, not for the last time, as "socialized medicine," and members of Truman's White House staff were branded "followers of the Moscow party line."
It was a battle he didn't have the opportunity to finish.
  • For the next generation, no one ventured to tread where T.R. and Truman fell short. But in the early 1960s, a new young president was determined to take a first step—to free the elderly from the threat of medical poverty. John Kennedy called Medicare "one of the most important measures I have advocated." He understood the pain of injury and illness: as a senator, he had almost died after surgery to repair a back injury sustained during World War II, an injury that would plague him all of his life. I was in college as he recuperated and learned to walk without crutches at my parents' winter home in Florida. I visited often, and we spent afternoons painting landscapes and seascapes. (It was a competition: at dinner after we finished, we would ask family members to decide whose painting was better.) I saw how the pain would periodically hit him as we were painting; he'd have to put down his brush for a while. And I saw, too, how hard he fought as president to pass Medicare. It was a battle he didn't have the opportunity to finish. But I was in the Senate to vote for the Medicare bill before Lyndon Johnson signed it into law—with Harry Truman at his side. In the Senate, I viewed Medicare as a great achievement, but only a beginning. In 1966, I visited the Columbia Point Neighborhood Health Center in Boston; it was a pilot project providing health services to low-income families in the two-floor office of an apartment building. I saw mothers in rocking chairs, tending their children in a warm and welcoming setting. They told me this was the first time they could get basic care without spending hours on public transportation and in hospital waiting rooms. I authored legislation, which passed a few months later, establishing the network of community health centers that are all around America today.
  • Some years later, I decided the time was right to renew the quest for universal and affordable coverage. When I first introduced the bill in 1970, I didn't expect an easy victory (although I never suspected that it would take this long). I eventually came to believe that we'd have to give up on the ideal of a government-run, single-payer system if we wanted to get universal care. Some of my allies called me a sellout because I was willing to compromise. Even so, we almost had a plan that President Richard Nixon was willing to sign in 1974—but that chance was lost as the Watergate storm swept Washington and the country, and swept Nixon out of the White House. I tried to negotiate an agreement with President Carter but became frustrated when he decided that he'd rather take a piecemeal approach. I ran against Carter, a sitting president from my own party, in large part because of this disagreement. Health reform became central to my 1980 presidential campaign: I argued then that the issue wasn't just coverage but also out-of-control costs that would ultimately break both family and federal budgets, and increasingly burden the national economy. I even predicted, optimistically, that the business community, largely opposed to reform, would come around to supporting it.
  • That didn't happen as soon as I thought it would. When Bill Clinton returned to the issue in the first years of his presidency, I fought the battle in Congress. We lost to a virtually united front of corporations, insurance companies, and other interest groups. The Clinton proposal never even came to a vote. But we didn't just walk away and do nothing—even though Republicans were again in control of Congress. We returned to a step-by-step approach. With Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas, the daughter of the 1936 Republican presidential nominee, I crafted a law to make health insurance more portable for those who change or lose jobs. It didn't do enough to fully guarantee that, but we made progress. I worked with my friend Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Republican chair of our committee, to enact CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program; today it covers more than 7 million children from low-income families, although too many of them could soon lose coverage as impoverished state governments cut their contributions.
Incremental measures won't suffice anymore. We need to succeed where Teddy Roosevelt and all others since have failed. The conditions now are better than ever.
  • Incremental measures won't suffice anymore. We need to succeed where Teddy Roosevelt and all others since have failed. The conditions now are better than ever. In Barack Obama, we have a president who's announced that he's determined to sign a bill into law this fall. And much of the business community, which has suffered the economic cost of inaction, is helping to shape change, not lobbying against it. I know this because I've spent the past year, along with my staff, negotiating with business leaders, hospital administrators, and doctors. As soon as I left the hospital last summer, I was on the phone, and I've kept at it. Since the inauguration, the administration has been deeply involved in the process. So have my Senate colleagues—in particular Max Baucus, the chair of the Finance Committee, and my friend and partner in this mission, Chris Dodd. Even those most ardently opposed to reform in the past have been willing to make constructive gestures now.
  • To help finance a bill, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to lower prices for seniors, not only saving them money for prescriptions but also saving the government tens of billions in Medicare payments over the next decade. Senator Baucus has agreed with hospitals on more than $100 billion in savings. We're working with Republicans to make this a bipartisan effort. Everyone won't be satisfied—and no one will get everything they want. But we need to come together, just as we've done in other great struggles—in World War II and the Cold War, in passing the great civil-rights laws of the 1960s, and in daring to send a man to the moon. If we don't get every provision right, we can adjust and improve the program next year or in the years to come. What we can't afford is to wait another generation.
  • All Americans should be required to have insurance. For those who can't afford the premiums, we can provide subsidies. We'll make it illegal to deny coverage due to preexisting conditions. We'll also prohibit the practice of charging women higher premiums than men, and the elderly far higher premiums than anyone else. The bill drafted by the Senate health committee will let children be covered by their parents' policy until the age of 26, since first jobs after high school or college often don't offer health benefits. To accomplish all of this, we have to cut the costs of health care. For families who've seen health-insurance premiums more than double—from an average of less than $6,000 a year to nearly $13,000 since 1999—one of the most controversial features of reform is one of the most vital. It's been called the "public plan." Despite what its detractors allege, it's not "socialism." It could take a number of different forms. Our bill favors a "community health-insurance option." In short, this means that the federal government would negotiate rates—in keeping with local economic conditions—for a plan that would be offered alongside private insurance options. This will foster competition in pricing and services. It will be a safety net, giving Americans a place to go when they can't find or afford private insurance, and it's critical to holding costs down for everyone.
  • Another cardinal principle of reform: we have to make certain that people can keep the coverage they already have. Millions of employers already provide health insurance for their employees. We shouldn't do anything to disturb this. On the contrary, we need to mandate employer responsibility: except for small businesses with fewer than 25 employees, every company should have to cover its workers or pay into a system that will. We need to prevent disease and not just cure it. (Today 80 percent of health spending pays for care for the 20 percent of Americans with chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.) Too many people get to the doctor too seldom or too late—or know too little about how to stay healthy. No one knows better than I do that when it comes to advanced, highly specialized treatments, America can boast the best health care in the world—at least for those who can afford it. But we still have to modernize a system that doesn't always provide the basics.
  • I've heard the critics complain about the costs of change. I'm confident that at the end of the process, the change will be paid for—fairly, responsibly, and without adding to the federal deficit. It doesn't make sense to negotiate in the pages of NEWSWEEK, but I will say that I'm open to many options, including a surtax on the wealthy, as long as it meets the principle laid down by President Obama: that there will be no tax increases on anyone making less than $250,000 a year. What I haven't heard the critics discuss is the cost of inaction. If we don't reform the system, if we leave things as they are, health-care inflation will cost far more over the next decade than health-care reform. We will pay far more for far less—with millions more Americans uninsured or underinsured.
  • This would threaten not just the health of Americans but also the strength of the American economy. Health-care spending already accounts for 17 percent of our entire domestic product. In other advanced nations, where the figure is around 10 percent, everyone has insurance and health outcomes that are equal or better than ours. This disparity undermines our ability to compete and succeed in the global economy. General Motors spends more per vehicle on health care than on steel.
  • We will bring health-care reform to the Senate and House floors soon, and there will be a vote. A century-long struggle will reach its climax. We're almost there. In the meantime, I will continue what I've been doing—making calls, urging progress. I've had dinner twice recently at my home in Hyannis Port with Senator Dodd, and when President Obama called me during his Rome trip after meeting with the Pope, much of our discussion was about health care. I believe the bill will pass, and we will end the disgrace of America as the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn't guarantee health care for all of its people.
  • At another Democratic convention, in arguing for this cause, I spoke of the insurance coverage senators and members of Congress provide for themselves. That was 1980. In the last year, I've often relied on that Congressional insurance. My wife, Vicki, and I have worried about many things, but not whether we could afford my care and treatment. Each time I've made a phone call or held a meeting about the health bill—or even when I've had the opportunity to get out for a sail along the Massachusetts coast—I've thought in an even more powerful way than before about what this will mean to others. And I am resolved to see to it this year that we create a system to ensure that someday, when there is a cure for the disease I now have, no American who needs it will be denied it.


  • What we have in the United States is not so much a health-care system as a disease-care system.

Quotes about Kennedy



  • During his more than four decades in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Kennedy consistently supported American assistance to Israel, particularly during the Jewish State's most trying times, in the wake of the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. He led the fight against U.S. arms sales to Israel's enemies, spoke out forcefully against the Arab League boycott of Israel and was a fierce critic of the United Nations' isolation of the Jewish state; he urged his colleagues to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital, and warned of the dangers of global terrorism.
  • TO HIS INNUMERABLE CRITICS, the image of Edward Moore Kennedy declaiming to a phantom audience is an apt metaphor for his long fall from grace, the fitting close to a disastrous decade. Kennedy began the 1980s with a sound thrashing at the hands of Jimmy Carter; his marriage ended in divorce, while tales of boozing and womanizing continued unabated; for six years he languished in the minority after Republicans captured the Senate; the decade was dominated by his ideological antithesis, Ronald Reagan.
  • He personifies liberalism for a generation -- much as William Gladstone did in British politics a century ago -- but in the America of 1990, that is a backhanded compliment at best. "After all is said and done," says Republican Party Chairman Lee Atwater, "Ted Kennedy is still the man in American politics Republicans love to hate." At least some of the blame for liberalism's decline may be laid at his door, and he has been unable to articulate a compelling vision of America's future acceptable to a majority of the Democratic Party, much less the American electorate. Ruled by his passions, for good and ill, he will forever draw resentment from those who believe he squandered his chance to leave a larger imprint on the society he hopes to better.
  • This image of liberal impotence, however, can be misleading. For as the 1990s begin, Ted Kennedy sits in the catbird seat on Capitol Hill. He will not be president, and seems to know that; instead, he has channeled his energy and ambition into the Senate, a small, clubby hive of barons that perfectly suits his talents. Now fifth in seniority in the upper chamber, he has built a kind of shadow government as chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee and head of Judiciary and Armed Services subcommittees. Through serendipity and political acumen, he is positioned to dominate the domestic agenda for the rest of this century as few legislators have in the 200-year history of Congress. Even Kennedy's political adversaries acknowledge that as he nears the end of his third decade in the Senate his fingerprints may be found on much of the significant social legislation of the past quarter-century: voting rights, immigration reform, occupational safety, fair housing, consumer protection, and on and on. In the 100th Congress, he shoved 39 bills through his committee and into law, including a big AIDS package and restrictions on the use of lie detectors in the workplace. Of nine Democratic objectives in the Senate for this second session of the 101st Congress, five will be routed through Kennedy's Labor Committee.
  • Yet, as ever, he remains a figure of controversy and complexity -- diligent, shrewd, loud, funny, indiscreet, generous, bibulous, moody, tenacious. An extroverted raconteur with a million friends, he can be his own worst enemy. His vices are well-catalogued, most recently in a Gentlemen's Quarterly article that portrayed him as an alcoholic libertine "who grew to manhood without learning to be an adult." Steadfastly consistent in his political catechism, he is nevertheless a study in paradox: a peerless orator afflicted with bouts of baffling incoherence and blurry political vision; a droll, self-deprecating wit who can be foul-tempered and impatient; a champion of righteous causes whose personal morals are perpetually under fire; a compassionate advocate for the better angels of our nature, capable, in the phrase of one admiring former aide, of "calculated demagoguery"; an implacable foe of Reaganism and Reaganomics who openly admires Ronald Reagan.
  • He embodies a peculiarly American archetype -- the Good Bad Boy -- who perseveres, with charm, despite life's vicissitudes and his own defects. Driven by dreams of a better future, he refers frequently to the past and his fallen brothers -- often to good political effect, but without seeming manipulative, perhaps because so much of his personal memory is our public memory. "Don't you think," says former Kennedy press secretary Bob Shrum, "that the country has a very complicated set of feelings about him and his family?" 'He has all the makings of a tragic figure, yet refuses to play the part. Instead he insists on center stage, voice ever louder, gestures ever grander, resolutely imperfect, a flawed and final prince.
  • Other reasons surely contribute. He ardently believes in the urgency of his causes, in pushing for a society that is fair, just, humane. As the sole male survivor in a family obsessed with public achievement, he is constantly confronted with the unfinished agenda -- and legendary stature -- of his brothers; by nature and upbringing, his private happiness is predicated on public accomplishment. And were he to stop "moving all the time," in Susman's phrase, who would Ted Kennedy be? Perhaps just another rich playboy, a clutch of appetites and indulgences, a nobody. As one of his closest friends observes, "This is a man who's not asking many questions about life; he's just doing it."
For nearly 30 years, he has been a faithful standard bearer for the very young and very old, for immigrants and refugees, for blacks and American Indians and blue-collar workers. ~ Rick Atkinson
  • AMONG HUMAN VIRTUES, Kennedy rates loyalty very high. For nearly 30 years, he has been a faithful standard bearer for the very young and very old, for immigrants and refugees, for blacks and American Indians and blue-collar workers. For the most part, these constituencies have repaid the allegiance. An Ebony poll in 1988 found that the magazine's black readers trusted Kennedy more than any other white American. "We've always found him to be a consistent champion," adds NAACP chief Washington lobbyist Althea T.L. Simmons. Thomas R. Donahue, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, says, "I think Kennedy really represents the best expression of somebody on the Hill who's worried about people issues and worker issues and is doing something about it."
  • Just east, beyond the heavy door, lies the Senate chamber and a world Edward Kennedy has made his own, building a record of legislative accomplishment far more durable than his brothers'. It is an arena of triumphs and debacles and a legacy still half-built, still awaiting history's rendering. In the other direction, looking west through the tall windows, the senator has a stunning vista of the federal city and the great republic beyond. Two miles down the Mall, past the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool, Lincoln stares back from his throne. Pivoting slightly to the right, Kennedy can see the broad sweep of Pennsylvania Avenue: beyond the Canadian Embassy and the National Archives, beyond the FBI and the Treasury to the white mansion at the bend in the road, to the house where, perhaps, he was never meant to live.


Kennedy’s message [to Yuri Andropov] was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.
  • Nixon was more worried about another Democratic presidential contender: Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts senator who fast became the loudest voice in Congress decrying the atrocities in East Pakistan...When the killing started in East Pakistan, Kennedy quickly got hold of some of Archer Blood’s cables and began giving speeches harshly denouncing Yahya’s killings, Nixon’s silence, and the use of U.S. arms by Pakistan. On May 3, he told the Senate that thousands or even millions of lives were at stake, “whose destruction will burden the conscience of all mankind.” He complained that Blood’s reports were being suppressed, and that he was being denied access to cable traffic from the Dacca consulate.
    The flight of millions of refugees gave Kennedy a platform: he was chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on refugees. He highlighted the ugly fact that the bulk of the exiles were Hindus, blasted the White House for “rhetoric and tokenism and paper plans” in helping the refugees, and denounced Nixon’s “continued silence, and apparent indifference, over the actions of the American supplied Pakistan army.” He was so vocal that he became an overnight hero among Bengalis, while Pakistan griped that his meddling in its domestic affairs was a violation of the United Nations Charter.
    • quoted in Bass, G. J. (2014). The Blood telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a forgotten genocide.
  • The U.S. Senate campaign of Joe Kennedy III predictably inspired plenty of nostalgia and inevitable comparisons to others in the famous political family. But it turned out that Ed Markey was the one who best emulated a Kennedy legend: Ted Kennedy. The Ted Kennedy of 1994, to be precise. Kennedy, although understood to be a top-notch legislator and advocate for constituents, had become an easily-caricatured embarrassment. He was a man of failed presidential ambitions, tales of debauchery, and a starring role among the seemingly out-of-touch old men of Congress. With the help of new wife Vicki, and the motivation of polls showing him in real danger of losing to appealing Republican Mitt Romney, Kennedy shaped up literally and figuratively. He brought renewed vigor to retail campaigning, and sharp elbows to slicing up Romney’s image. Finally, in televised debates, Kennedy completed his self-renovation. Where voters, media, and Romney himself had once expected the “Palm Beach boozer, lout, and tabloid grotesque,” as Time Magazine called him, here was a sharp-minded, prepared, disciplined, verbal sharp-shooter. Markey’s reputation was nothing like Kennedy’s, of course. But it wasn’t great.
  • Over the course of the campaign, Markey became an energetic, disciplined, scrappy campaigner — and, as with Ted Kennedy, the renewed candidate popped into view from the debate stage. The often long-winded, overly patrician, cautious old man had been replaced by a sharp debater, eager to throw jabs and even get into the mud a little.
  • Kennedy’s 1994 re-election mattered not just because he won, but because in the process of winning he rejuvenated his career. Had his career ended that year, or even if he had staggered along as before, it’s unlikely that Kennedy would be remembered as the legendary lion of the Senate. His new discipline, and heightened stature, launched his late-stage career of legislative successes, and public leadership on issues such as opposition to the Iraq War. Markey heads back to the Senate with a similar opportunity. Not quite the same, to be sure. Ted Kennedy was only 62 when he beat Romney; Markey is already 74. Kennedy had three decades of seniority; Markey is still junior even to Elizabeth Warren.
  • The disease that took John's life, took our mutual friend (Ted Kennedy's) life ... and three years ago took my beautiful son Beau's life, it's brutal, it's relentless, it's unforgiving. It takes so much from those we love — and from the families who love them — that in order to survive we have to remember how they lived, not how they died.
If Teddy were here, in the United States Senate, what he’d be talking about is equity, honesty, the way in which we deal with people, treating everyone the same way. ~ Joe Biden
  • In the Senate, though we often disagreed, he never hesitated to work with me or other Democrats when it mattered most. He and Ted Kennedy came together to turn Bob’s lifelong cause into the Americans with Disabilities Act — granting tens of millions of Americans lives of greater dignity.
  • Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has finally escaped his fate. The murder of his brothers had bequeathed him the White House, occupied by a series of pretenders. No private difficulties could lift this legacy from his shoulders. Not even losing the 1980 Democratic nomination freed him. Every four years, eyes turned to him, intently watching for his slightest gesture toward resuming his mission.
  • The Alliance Within the intense political world of Massachusetts, Kennedy was always the preeminent national leader. He didn't involve himself much with state political machinations. His status was so stratospheric, in fact, that he rarely descended from the clouds to make an endorsement in a Democratic primary, leaving the dusty combat to the lesser political beings.
  • Once governor, Dukakis played the puritan-reformer, offended by all forms of patronage -- including that of Tip O'Neill and Ted Kennedy. O'Neill, of the old school, held Dukakis, until very recently, in contempt. The younger Kennedy, spanning both the venerable Irish and reform traditions, was not fond of Dukakis, but did not wish hail and brimstone to fall on him. Nevertheless, it did. Dukakis, much unloved, was deposed in 1978.
For Ted Kennedy, the Reagan presidency has been the culmination of the interregnum. ~ Sidney Blumenthal
  • The Cycles of Kennedy History In the Kennedy mythology, American history since the assassination of President Kennedy has been an unnatural interregnum. The only Democratic presidents of the period -- Johnson and Carter -- have been challenged by Kennedys. For Ted Kennedy, the Reagan presidency has been the culmination of the interregnum.
  • In just over seven minutes, Democrats have honored a lion of American liberalism, and reinforced the image that Mitt Romney is utterly devoid of conviction. Not a bad first move.
  • Not since the day almost 45 years ago, when word reached Washington that his brother, John, had been cut down in Dallas, has there been news about an individual that struck so deep a blow to so many in this capital. The medical bulletin from Massachusetts General Hospital about Sen. Ted Kennedy was at once a personal tragedy and a political cataclysm. In his 46 years in the Senate, Kennedy probably has touched more people, in more cherished ways, than any other public figure. And his illness threatens to alter, for the worse, the prospects of every other politician -- starting with Barack Obama and John McCain.
  • Kennedy has been the most respected Democratic senator for so long that no one comes close to his influence. He also has been one of the most energetic, always prodding and pushing his colleagues, undiverted by any other political ambitions or concerns since his one presidential campaign ended in 1980. On issue after issue, but particularly on civil rights, health care, labor law, Vietnam and Iraq, Kennedy has set the direction for his party and mobilized the necessary support. Even when the cause seemed lost, that bullhorn voice summoned Democrats to battle — and more often than seemed plausible, they achieved at least some of their goals.
Truly, there is no one like him. ~ David Broder
  • He clearly is eager to play that role for Barack Obama, his choice for the nomination. Obama will search far and wide to find another Senate ally as committed and capable. But still it may be true that McCain would find Kennedy's absence even more of a handicap than would Obama. It is doubtful that anyone could name another Democrat more willing to become a partner for the Republican nominee than Kennedy.It is not simply that those two have legislated together on health care, immigration, campaign finance and ethics laws. Equally important, Kennedy consistently has searched for compromises that can bring Republican votes — as he did for President Bush on education reform. And at 76, he is far less inclined to seek partisan victories that poison the legislative well. Truly, there is no one like him.
  • As a senator, as the de facto leader of liberal Democrats for decades, even as a failed presidential candidate, Ted Kennedy was always the same, pursuing his goals no matter the odds. Where brother Bob cautiously waited until Lyndon Johnson withdrew from the presidential race to begin his anti-Vietnam War campaign in 1968, Ted Kennedy in 1980 challenged the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, simply in the belief that Carter had abandoned the principles of the Democratic Party. Kennedy suffered a humiliating defeat but returned to the Senate unbowed and fashioned a career unique in both its legislative accomplishments and the range of his personal friendships. His mourners range from conservative Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah to liberal neighbor Chris Dodd of Connecticut -- and scores in between.
  • To think that, when Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama at American University, after the defeat in New Hampshire, I believe that was a big moment for the Obama campaign. It really gave it a new spirit. I've also been told that very early in the process, when Obama was thinking about running, it was a conversation with Kennedy that gave him a little fortitude to go ahead into the race.
The bipartisan spirit of McCain's long collaboration with Edward Kennedy and other Democratic senators is no surprise. McCain calls Kennedy "the lion of the Senate," as indeed Teddy is - perhaps our finest senator ever. ~ Bartle Bull
  • The bipartisan spirit of McCain's long collaboration with Edward Kennedy and other Democratic senators is no surprise. McCain calls Kennedy "the lion of the Senate," as indeed Teddy is - perhaps our finest senator ever. Jack Kennedy, too, was bipartisan, appointing two Republicans to his cabinet. McCain, one of the two or three most bipartisan national figures of our day, has worked with Democrats on the environment, court appointments, campaign finance, immigration and more. Obama has the most extreme partisan voting record of any senator. Now, gambling his candidacy on a dynamic young Alaska governor, McCain has confirmed his independence as a leader not bound by the insider politics of Washington.
  • Senator Kennedy's devotion to our country and his lifetime legacy of fighting for causes such as civil rights, education, and health care are unparalleled. His life and legislative accomplishments will carry on through those he knew, inspired, and fought for.
  • Senator McCain is a war veteran, POW survivor and presidential candidate. His courage has never been in question. But cancer cares nothing about heroism, and only five out of 100 people outlive glioblastoma; according to the best studies available, their survival was not due to willpower or fighting spirit. Teddy Kennedy and Beau Biden lacked for neither, and both were felled by the disease. If "battling cancer" has long been a misguided metaphor, it seems spectacularly inapposite in connection with the redoubtable John McCain.
While we didn’t see eye to eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the U.S. Senate — a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body’s history. ~ George H. W. Bush
  • While we didn’t see eye to eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the U.S. Senate — a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body’s history.
  • Madam President, in that year 1932, a writer for the Saturday Evening Post asked John Maynard Keynes, the great British economist, whether there had ever been anything like the Depression before. "Yes," he replied. "It was called the Dark Ages and it lasted four hundred years." This was calamity howling on a cosmic scale, but on at least one point the resemblance seemed valid. In each case the people were victims of forces that they could not understand. Mr. President, in that same year of 1932, there was born a child in Massachusetts, and his name was Edward Kennedy. In 1932, of course, I knew nothing about Edward Kennedy or Edward Kennedy's birth. But today I rise on this Senate floor to salute one of the outstanding Senators in the history of this great body. He is a man whose expertise, hard work, and courage have set a lofty example to which every fledgling Senator should aspire.
  • On November 6, 1962, Edward Kennedy was elected to the Senate, and so he is celebrating his 35th anniversary and we are celebrating the 35th anniversary of his arrival in the Senate. I well remember the arrival of young Edward Kennedy in this Chamber. Having been elected in 1962 at the age of 30, he was one of the youngest Members in Senate history. While Senator Kennedy may not have been the youngest Senator ever, he was certainly one of the youngest. Despite his youth, however, much was expected of this young man and I suspect that some may have wondered whether he was really up to the challenge. After all, Senator Kennedy was representing a State that had provided the Senate with some its most memorable figures, among them Daniel Webster, Rufus Choate, and Charles Sumner. In addition, Senator Kennedy was elected to finish the term of the then current President, who was none other than his brother. When one remembers that another Kennedy brother was then Attorney General of the United States, one realizes why Senator Kennedy was accorded rather more attention than the average freshman Senator. I am gratified to report that, far from falling short of these grand expectations, Senator Kennedy has exceeded them. He became an innovative and productive legislator. He also embarked on a path from which he has never varied: championing the interests of the working people, the poor, and the disadvantaged. His tenure as chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources during the 100th Congress was remarkable, both in the sheer volume of legislation that he sponsored and in the dedication that he displayed to improving the education and health of all Americans.
  • Despite his passionate and unswerving convictions, Senator Kennedy is also one of the most accommodating Members of the Senate. Throughout his career, he has sought out partnerships with Members regardless of their ideology or party in the interests of passing wise and necessary legislation. Even in these partisan days in which we live, Senator Kennedy consistently seeks to find common ground with those at all points along the political spectrum. Senator Kennedy has repeatedly put the national interest ahead of petty partisan squabbles. Not that he is above partisanship at all. We are all capable of being partisan at times; some of us more than others, perhaps. But this open-minded approach to lawmaking, this brave refusal to succumb to the partisan animosity that permeates Congress today, may well be one of the Senator's greatest legacies. I said at the beginning of my remarks that I believe Senator Kennedy to be one of the most outstanding Senators this Chamber has seen. Lest I be accused of hyperbole and exaggeration, or of excessive kindness toward a friend, let me make clear that my words are not motivated by simple kindness. Senator Kennedy's legislative dexterity and bipartisan approach, are a rare combination indeed. I fear that many of today's politicians will be judged harshly by the historians of tomorrow for their fickleness, their shallow rhetoric, their willingness to pander to popular opinion. But not so my good friend and esteemed colleague from Massachusetts.
  • I have remarked before, and I remark today, that had Ted Kennedy been living in 1789 at the time the first Congress met, he would have been a powerful factor in pressing forward with the legislation that was enacted in that first Congress. A formidable opponent, a knowledgeable and dedicated legislator, Ted Kennedy would have been in the forefront of those who were advocating the Judiciary Act, and I have no doubt that he would have left his imprint upon that legislation. Had he been living at the time of the Civil War, serving in the U.S. Senate, again, he would have been recognized as a forceful leader. In the days of reconstruction, again, Senator Kennedy would have made his mark in the U.S. Senate. Had he been a Senator during the years of the New Deal, he would have allied himself with Franklin D. Roosevelt and would have been a strong supporter of the landmark legislation that was enacted in those difficult years. I think that if Ted Kennedy had been living prior to the Revolution, he would have joined men like Samuel Adams and John Adams and John Hancock, from his State of Massachusetts, in resisting the edicts of George III, the King of England. So, in summation, I say that Ted Kennedy would have been a leader, an outstanding Senator, at any period of the Nation's history.
  • Ted Kennedy and I have not always been the best of friends. There was a time when we were not. That time has long been relegated to the ashes of the past. When I was majority leader of the Senate, and also when I was minority leader of the Senate, and when I was majority leader again, as I have already indicated, in the 100th Congress, I leaned much on Ted Kennedy's knowledge, his expertise, his support. He was one of my strongest supporters in the Senate. In caucuses or on the Senate floor, I could always count on Ted Kennedy to be there when I needed him. So, Ted Kennedy and I formed a friendship in the finest sense of that word. We share a liking for history, a fondness for poetry, and a love for the U.S. Senate. Ted Kennedy does his work well in the committee. When he comes to the floor, he comes with a batch of papers in his hands and with a head full of knowledge in respect to the legislation which he is promoting. I count him as one of the most effective Members of the Senate. I admire Ted's steadfast purpose, his tireless work, his easy humor, and his kind nature. But, most of all, I admire his courage. He has experienced more personal tragedy and deep sorrow than most of us could bear and still retain our sanity. Yet, he goes on. He contributes. He endures. He laughs. He leads. He inspires. He triumphs. I have watched him weather and work and grow in wisdom for 35 years. He has an excellent staff. One would have to have an excellent staff to be able to turn out the massive amount of work and to provide the leadership that he has so many times provided in enacting landmark legislation. He is ever on an upward track.
  • Senator Ted Kennedy is absolutely committed to public service. He has served and served wisely and well in the United States for 38 years. First elected to the Senate in 1962, Ted Kennedy is now the third most senior Member of this body. A child of privilege, educated at Harvard and the University of Virginia Law School, Ted Kennedy could have taken the easier path in life. But instead Ted Kennedy came to the Senate to work. And the causes he has championed and put his broad shoulder to the wheel to support, are for the most part, the causes that benefit the little people--the poor, the downtrodden, the children in our society. Senator Kennedy has been an unstinting warrior in the effort to ensure quality health care to the citizens of the Nation. Two recent achievements in this area are the Health Insurance and Accountability Act of 1996, which makes it easier for those who change or lose their jobs to keep their health insurance, and the children's Health Insurance Act of 1997, which makes their health insurance far more widely available to children through age 18 in all 50 states.
  • Senator Kennedy has for years, also been a dynamic leader on a wide range of other issues of central importance to the people of this Nation, including education, raising the minimum wage, defending the rights of workers and their families, strengthening civil rights laws, assisting individuals with disabilities, fighting for cleaner water and cleaner air, and protecting Social Security and Medicare for senior citizens.
  • Through all the triumphs and tragedies, through all the hard work, the disappointments, and the hard knocks that always accompany a long political career, Senator Kennedy has retained a young man's zeal for life, for service, for laughter, and for achievement. I believe that his shadow will loom large when the history of this body is written in future years. Already, the sum total of his legislative achievements is enormous, and he is still as active, as energetic and as committed as ever. Fortunately, for this body and for the Nation, we can expect many, many more years of loyal and distinguished service from the senior Senator from the Bay State.


I think he’s the greatest legislator of all time. Kennedy’s legislative legacy is the equivalent of a presidential legacy. ~ Peter Canellos
  • The 74-year-old Markey, who was first elected to the House in 1972, was supposed to be the type of proud, uncharismatic incumbent whom Kennedys routinely dispatch to retirement homes or ambassadorships. Joe Kennedy’s grandfather, Robert, famously ended the 18-year political career of New York Sen. Kenneth Keating, a 64-year-old Rockefeller Republican, without even moving to the state until shortly before the election. In a 1962 debate, Massachusetts Attorney General Edward J. “Eddie” McCormack Jr. told political neophyte Edward Moore Kennedy that if his name had been Edward Moore, his Senate candidacy “would be a joke.” The joke, of course, was on Eddie McCormack, who lost the Democratic primary, 69-30. Those victories were, however, a long time ago. JFK’s assassination will have its 57th anniversary this fall. It’s been more than 52 years since the murder of Robert Kennedy, and 11 since Ted’s death from a brain tumor. Only voters old enough for retirement have real-time memories of the Kennedy administration. Even fewer feel the powerful sense of attachment that followed the Kennedy assassinations—the belief that this family’s name was synonymous with enlightened public service. And much of what remains in photos and video clips of the once-famous Kennedy style is obnoxious to the public mood: Sleekly dressed men with sometimes leering eyes, captive spouses, cocktails and cigarettes.
  • But being a Kennedy means being perpetually groomed for greater things. Ted Kennedy struggled with these kinds of expectations on a far grander scale. Like the inheritor of a family business, he felt a responsibility to the hundreds of high-profile minions—many of them eminent in their own fields—who had attached their fortunes to the Kennedy name. Despite the inevitable fraying of family ties in the absence of Ted’s unifying presence, and the competing ambitions of some cousins, the family torch was being carried by Joe. Its fuel was ambition. There was a real danger of it being extinguished on his watch.
  • I'd like to say a personal word to Senator Kennedy. Ted, you're a tough competitor and a superb campaigner, and I can attest to that. Your speech before this convention was a magnificent statement of what the Democratic Party is and what it means to the people of this country and why a Democratic victory is so important this year. I reach out to you tonight, and I reach out to all those who supported you in your valiant and passionate campaign. Ted, your party needs and I need you. And I need your idealism and your dedication working for us. There is no doubt that even greater service lies ahead of you, and we are grateful to you and to have your strong partnership now in a larger cause to which your own life has been dedicated.
  • Kennedy always hosted legendary Christmas parties on the Hill, and I was lucky enough to attend those as well. He was such fun, and I recall getting a real solid pat on the back from him as he passed me once. It wasn't because he knew me and was glad to see me. I think it was his way of just making sure everyone at this party felt welcomed and was having fun. At the time, it was no secret that despite all his faults, Kennedy was the most popular member of Congress. He remarried in the mid-1990s and settled down, stopped drinking and philandering, and lived the last years of his life in peace. He died of a brain tumor in August of 2009. I remember I was at the gym early in the morning when the news came, and it made me so sad. Since that time, I've read every book about the senator, including his memoir, and watched all Kennedy-related documentaries and movies -- even Chappaquiddick, the 2017 drama that detailed the most harrowing and personally damaging incident in Kennedy's life. The point here is not to rehash everything about one of the most complicated, traumatized, and impactful public figures of the 20th century. For those of us old enough, we know all about the good and the bad of Sen. Kennedy and about how his three brothers before him died violently, leaving him, unexpectedly, as the patriarch of the family and arguably the most consequential of the Kennedy brothers.
  • Joining with Democratic Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy in 2005, he made a valiant effort to enact comprehensive immigration reform — a crucial need that Congress has still not met. He proposed a “cap-and-trade” system to curb greenhouse gas emissions, defying Republicans who scorned climate change as a hoax.
He lived up to the myth. He made his mark in history. He made an impact on people and on this state that will last through the course of time. ~ Dino F. Ciliberti
  • How could such a great man and such a proud pioneering family survive such tragedies? We asked Kennedy questions regarding his work in the Senate and the present and future of the state. He responded in length on every question and was very gracious. The senator shared stories and recollections and even some anecdotes regarding his brothers. We were all fascinated by what we heard. We posed for some pictures of this historic event for the newspaper, and off the senator went. Staffers at most newspapers often brush shoulders with famous politicians and celebrities, and I’ve met and interviewed numerous ones over time myself including Bob Dole, Don Henley, George Carlin, Charles Barkley, John Kerry and Sheryl Crow, among others. But Ted Kennedy’s visit was one we’ll never forget. He lived up to the myth. He made his mark in history. He made an impact on people and on this state that will last through the course of time.
  • You know, I’m not used to showing up and being the straight man. This is a very emotional moment for me. When I was in the 10th grade, Ted Kennedy was in the Senate. And when I retire from two terms as President, Ted Kennedy will be in the Senate. And I resent it.
  • But the reason that you’re here, and the reason you ought to be here, is that a lot of big decisions are going to be made in the next few years. And it’ll make a big difference if Ted Kennedy is in the Senate. We also have a genuine, legitimate chance to be in the congressional majority again. And that’s very important.
Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. ~ Bill Clinton
  • Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind, and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union… Hillary and I will always be grateful for the many gestures of kindness and generosity he extend to us, for the concern he showed for all the children and grandchildren of the Kennedy clan, and for his devotion to all those in need whose lives were better because he stood up for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, his children and grandchildren, and the people of Massachusetts he served so well.
  • Fate toyed with Teddy Kennedy. He was rich. He was famous. He was powerful. Yet he controlled so little. He drank too much, ate too much, risked too much, and did not have the imagination to ever question a liberalism that desperately needed updating. Ultimate success eluded him; tragedy and failure enriched him - a life's journey that took him from being his father's youngest son to his very own man. He was born a Kennedy, but he died just one of us.
  • With the passing of Senator Kennedy, our country has lost a giant of the Senate, and those of us who served with him have lost a warm, big-hearted, generous friend. Ted served the people of his state and our nation through five decades. His remarkable record of legislation has touched virtually every American… But my warmest memories of Ted are personal. He loved the coast of Maine and once told me there was no better sailing than Penobscot Bay.
  • Sometimes, the hardest part is surviving - living long enough to bury your brothers and their sons. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) was the youngest of four Kennedy brothers. In June of 1968, Bobby was killed, and Teddy was the only brother left. He was 36 years old that day -- the day the youngest became the patriarch and the mantle of public expectations fell heavily on his life. In many ways, he has carried it well in the three decades that have followed that day. The last of the Senate's liberal lions, Kennedy has championed civil rights, health care and minimum wage legislation, building a solid record on what his brothers only had time to dream about.
Not only was Kennedy never held accountable for his long reign of terror against women, he was continually re-elected, lionized as a leftist icon and granted a state funeral. The Left justifies endless scrutiny of Kavanaugh by arguing that a lifetime appointment requires it, but Kennedy and others enjoyed de facto lifetime appointments, both in office and out via enduring influence. Would Kennedy have survived the #MeToo era? Perhaps. President Bill Clinton, accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women, is still hailed. #BelieveAllWomen? Right. Too bad Mary Jo can’t speak "her truth." ~ Monica Crowley
  • Not only was Kennedy never held accountable for his long reign of terror against women, he was continually re-elected, lionized as a leftist icon and granted a state funeral. The Left justifies endless scrutiny of Kavanaugh by arguing that a lifetime appointment requires it, but Kennedy and others enjoyed de facto lifetime appointments, both in office and out via enduring influence. Would Kennedy have survived the #MeToo era? Perhaps. President Bill Clinton, accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women, is still hailed. #BelieveAllWomen? Right. Too bad Mary Jo can’t speak "her truth." Too bad Juanita Broaddrick tried to speak and remains shunned. And too bad Kavanaugh’s legion of female defenders apparently aren’t “women” enough to be believed. All sins — even the most grievous ones committed against women — are forgiven by progressives if the offender holds the “right” views, particularly on abortion. For Democrats today, politics dictates morality, not the reverse as has been the case traditionally.
  • So while Democrats still genuflect to Kennedy and ignore credible standing accusations against their own such as Ellison, they trash a highly accomplished man, truth be damned. Kennedy — one of the masterminds of the scathing attacks on Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas — would be proud of his shameless successors, who will likely gin up more accusations and demand further investigation until they can push the process past the November vote, when they hope to have more leverage. Having scored a few delays already, they are circling sharks. For them, this pantomime is about getting, wielding and keeping “raw power.” That end justifies all means.


  • It is true. We are all part of a continuum. In the history of our Nation, only 1,864 Americans have ever served in the Senate. Carved or penned into the drawers in our desks are the names of some of the giants--men such as Clay, Webster, Calhoun. But we don't have to open our desks or open a book to see one of the greatest Senators ever to serve in this body. All we have to do is open our eyes. He is right here, at the same desk he has occupied now for the last 40 years. I have been a Senator for 16 years. I count it as part of my good fortune that I have been able to call Ted Kennedy a colleague all of those years. I consider it an even greater privilege to call him my friend. Today it gives me enormous pleasure to join the rest of my colleagues in wishing my good friend a happy 70th birthday.
  • The great Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, wrote that "this is the true joy of life: to be used for a principle recognized by yourself as a mighty one..." That is exactly what Ted Kennedy has done. For 40 years now he has used his great booming voice to speak for those who have none. There is no more passionate or effective advocate in this Senate for good schools for every child, decent, affordable health care for every American; there is no one in this body who has fought harder or longer to improve the living standards of working families and protect the basic civil rights of all Americans. He is a drum major for justice. President Bush says the folks at the coffee shop down in Crawford were surprised to see him praise Senator Kennedy for his invaluable help in passing the new education reform act. They shouldn't have been. Since the day he arrived, Ted Kennedy has sought out those with views different from his own to see if together they could find principled compromise. He has never wavered in his principles. At the same time, he is a pragmatist who wants more than anything to get things done.
  • I had occasional contact with him in the House. I was a very junior member of the House leadership, and from time to time we would have legislative interaction with the Senate: certain projects, social events, and other things occasionally provided an opportunity. Then when I was contemplating running for the Senate in ’85, he was one who reached out to me and encouraged me to consider a run for the Senate.
  • I know thousands of people in politics, but I don’t know of anybody who takes greater care in the personal side, or the human side, of relationships as Teddy and Vicki do. When I would go through challenging times in my leadership role, they would reach out to me. In fact, the two of them wrote a wonderful poem that I have in my office, with one of Teddy’s pictures that they had had matted and framed and presented to me. And at various other times—the loss of my father—Teddy called a couple of times, but it seems that just about any time anybody goes through a difficult time in their life, one of the first calls they’re going to get is from Teddy Kennedy. They’ve become very special in our lives, as they have in the lives of many others, and I consider them very dear friends today.
  • Teddy was obviously the primary motivator and the primary architect of our caucus healthcare policy. Of course he worked very closely with Hillary [Clinton], but he was in his prime at that time. He had the seniority; he had the clout; he had the respect. Nobody challenged his credentials. But unfortunately he didn’t have the committee assignment. You would think that that committee assignment would be the key, but there was the Finance Committee, and unfortunately, there was a difference of opinion with regard to how we should approach this between many of us and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee at the time, Pat Moynihan, so things got substantially delayed. Ultimately, in part because of the delay and because it languished for so long, we ended up on the defensive, and it was unsuccessfully concluded. It was a very significant learning experience for me, to say the least. That was probably the first time that I worked in depth with Teddy on a project.
  • Ted Kennedy always had in mind his older sister Rosemary. She was an attractive young woman with a Kennedy smile and glint in her eye. Rosemary was diagnosed with an intellectual disability when she was an infant, never developing more than an IQ of an eight- to ten-year-old when she became an adult. Nevertheless, she could read Winnie the Pooh on her own and kept a simple diary. As she matured, behavioral problems led Joseph Kennedy to the disastrous decision to lobotomize her at the age of twenty-two. The operation left her much worse off than she had been. Now she had an IQ of a two-year-old and was unable to speak, walk, or control her bladder or colon. She was institutionalized. Ted Kennedy himself had various physical ailments, as did his brother John, but his family life was especially marked by his son Teddy’s bone cancer at the age of twelve. Senator Kennedy spent much time with his son during his diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. The younger Kennedy’s leg was amputated above the knee, and then arduous chemotherapy followed, with the senator learning how to inject anticancer agents into his son’s body. In spending all that time in various hospitals, Senator Kennedy came to appreciate both the realities of people with disabilities and the difficulties their families face in terms of the costs and care.
  • According to Soviet documents unearthed in the early 1990’s, Kennedy literally asked the Soviets, avowed enemies of the U.S., to intervene on behalf of the Democratic party in the 1984 elections. Kennedy’s communist communique was so secret that it was not discovered until 1991, eight years after Kennedy had initiated his Soviet gambit.
    • Sean Davis, Ted Kennedy Secretly Asked The Soviets To Intervene In The 1984 Elections, The Federalist, 10 March 2015
  • I’m not sure America has ever had a greater senator, but I know for certain that no one has had a greater friend than I and so many others did in Ted Kennedy. I will always remember Teddy as the ultimate example for all of us who seek to serve, a hero for those Americans in the shadow of life who so desperately needed one. He worked tirelessly to lift Americans out of poverty, advance the cause of civil rights, and provide opportunity to all. He fought to the very end for the cause of his life – ensuring that all Americans have the health care they need. I will miss him every day I serve, and every day I live.
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy inspired our America; Robert Kennedy challenged our America; and Teddy changed our America. Teddy was involved in every major debate in the last half of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st. Nearly every important law passed in the last half century bears his mark, and a great many of them bear his name.
  • I would say that in more than 45 years, Ted Kennedy has had more impact on the actions and passions of our time than any other senator, maybe any other elected official. He has devoted his life to the Senate, public service. He has been an active participant in all of the major debates. There's hardly an issue or a law that's been passed that he hasn't had some imprint on. Beyond his public life, he was a great person, a great spirit. People talk about that great Kennedy humor -- his laugh that could draw a crowd, his smile that lit up a room and that great Kennedy heart that had been broken so many times. He'd be the first to put his arm around your shoulder when you were going through a tough time personally.




  • Kennedy’s engaging personality and political gifts—his jocular temperament; fame and family, one-on-one negotiating skills—were assets in the chamber, as were his way with a song, and his gift for camaraderie. He could storm on the Senate floor—as when he single-handedly launched the successful opposition to the nomination of Robert Bork, a conservative idealogue, to the Supreme Court in 1987. Yet in a way unimaginable in today’s polarized era, Kennedy as gifted at identifying and recruiting Republican colleagues who were receptive to bipartisan collaboration on health care, civil rights, and other issues. Here is a partial list of the Republican leaders who joined with Kennedy on landmark measures that improved American lives: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Bush, McCain, Dole, Hatch, Romney, Dirksen, Simpson, Javits, Kassebaum, Quayle, Gramm, Graham, Baker, Scott, Lott, Rudman, Weicker, Hatfield, Danforth, Jeffords, Lugar, Brownback and Brooke. In our current divide it is enlightening—indeed, somewhat stunning—to study his legislative success. Now, when the once-mighty Senate has mortgaged its independence to presidencies, popular idiocies and party donors, Kennedy’s methods are especially worth examination. He leveraged his wealth and fame wisely, spending that family coin like a philanthropic heir, on social justice and expanded health care and other benefits for those who had not been blessed, as he had, with good looks, education, and a family fortune. He began by recruiting top notch talent to his staff. These aides acted as scouts, gathering reports of promising political stirrings on Capitol Hill. With an issue in hand, Kennedy would tap the expertise of noted scholars, scientists, doctors, and business folk— often by inviting the flattered experts to tutoring sessions or “issues dinners” at his home. Kennedy would then prepare, rehearse and study, until he knew the goal, and the ways to get there, as well as any colleague.
  • Ted Kennedy was unique among his brothers in that he was granted the gift of years. This exposed him, however, to the deconstruction of the New Frontier, and the colossal proliferation of late 20th century celebrity scandal mongering. The two older brothers were frozen by death. Not so with Ted. The world got to see him comb gray hair. The question asked by Schlesinger in his journal—How to correlate the lion with his flaws?—remains unanswered. The dialectic has failed to produce a reliable consensus. This much is certain, I concluded. He never got to choose his life. He was the last-born, the jokester, promoted by violent fate to pick up a fallen standard. His forays were marked by self-destruction. He did worst when the odds looked good, shined brightest when the cause seemed lost.
  • When Kennedy campaigned for the presidency in 1980, “he was running because it was expected of him,” said his friend, college roommate and Senate colleague, John Tunney. Kennedy had just “half his heart and half his mind in the campaign.” Kennedy won just 38 percent of the vote in the Democratic primaries. He never saw the Oval Office. His legacy will always be tainted by his failures. And yet, above all, his is a towering, parabolic story of resilience. Through a life of grief and guilt and physical suffering, Kennedy spurned despair. He persevered. His goals, as even his ideological foes came to recognize, were generous and compassionate—“to make gentler the human condition”—he liked to say, echoing the ancient Greeks. It was no small goal; no small life.
  • My heart dropped when I heard the news about Senator Kennedy. There is reason for optimism. He has great physicians, a loving and beautiful wife in Vicki, and the indomitable Kennedy spirit. I look forward to the day when Senator Kennedy is back on the Senate floor, giving one of his famous stem-winder speeches. I hope that day will be soon.


  • But exhilarating as it was, as rewarding as it was, it wouldn't be victory that would leave the lasting impression on Ted Kennedy from these years at Virginia. It would be all those defeats and disappointments along the way that had led to Virginia. Ted Kennedy, the boy who, as his father said, couldn't get away with anything, had known what it was like to fail, what it was like to disappoint, what it was like to be disappointed, what it was like to be disrespected. The moot court triumph couldn't expunge that. Ted Kennedy knew failure, and Ted Kennedy would use that knowledge.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 93
  • But Ted Kennedy had something else besides instinct and connection and charisma-something even more important than any of those when it came to winning elections. Ted Kennedy had energy, had always had energy. He took nothing for granted, despite his polls, which showed him far out in front of McCormack. Ted Kennedy had always worked harder than anyone. And now, in his own campaign, he worked harder than he had ever worked before.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 150
  • And this, too, showing Lodge the polls, was one reason that Ted Kennedy had won. Because even in victory, he didn't gloat but instead thought to assuage the feelings of the defeated. Even in victory, Ted Kennedy, who knew what it was like to lose, had something that the other Kennedys didn't have, something people could sense in him. Even in victory, when he didn't have to be magnanimous, Ted Kennedy had magnanimity.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 178
  • Bobby doubted Johnson's liberalism, thought him insufficiently liberal. Ted Kennedy did not; in fact, Johnson's new liberal fervor seemed to have stoked Ted's and made him more liberal than he had been during his own brother's administration. He was catching the gust of liberal wind. And Johnson appreciated the support, even as he curried it.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 256
  • The poll-tax fight, in which Ted deployed all those strengths, had shown Ted's new heightened sense of purpose; the Morrissey affair, a lowered one. 'That was a difference between Ted and Bobby. Bobby could be passionate for his causes and personally invested in them, but he would never have been caught between his sense of personal obligation and his political duties, his lower and higher senses of purpose, which is precisely why he jettisoned Morrissey, despite his father's entreaties. Ted often would be caught because he had a difficult time distinguishing between the two. For Ted, the personal often was the political, as it had been in both the poll-tax and the Morrissey battles. Bobby would never have fought for Morrissey. Ted would never not have.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 306
  • But there was no escaping what he faced now, which was being the paterfamilias of the Kennedy family, the leader of them all, though he was only thirty-six.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 399
In this respect, Ted Kennedy was more like Lyndon Johnson than like his brothers. He was laying down his marker on the Senate as Johnson had. He was demonstrating that he could make the institution work. ~ Neal Gabler
  • In this respect, Ted Kennedy was more like Lyndon Johnson than like his brothers. He was laying down his marker on the Senate as Johnson had. He was demonstrating that he could make the institution work. It was as if he was seeking to escape the politics of charisma that his brothers had personified and that had, arguably, cost them their lives; as if he was seeking reposition himself as a pol, not a messiah, burying himself in Senate drudgery, retreating into the institution, following Johnson's lead and Humphrey's, both of whom had been whips, protecting himself physically but also spiritually. It was totally uncharacteristic for a Kennedy to do so. No Kennedy had ever been an institutionalist, much less an errand boy.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 434
  • In the view of many Democrats, with the party in ashes, leaderless and aimless, Ted was the only one with the authority to assume its leadership and take the battle to Nixon, as he had had to assume the leadership of his family. Ted had come to see himself in the same way. Part of it was that Ted Kennedy was one of the few Democrats who was unbowed by the election defeat, one of the few who didn't want to make accommodation or need to make accommodation to Nixon. He saw Nixon as Johnson saw Nixon, a mortal threat to liberalism, a man who sought to both attack liberalism's underpinnings and unravel the liberal programs for which Ted's brothers had fought.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 443
  • And there would be a 2018 film titled Chappaquiddick, in which Ted is depicted as infantile, self-interested, cowardly, sniveling, unconcerned with Mary Jo while he ponders how to save his political career by shifting blame. These were two iterations of Ted Kennedy—one heartless, even monstrous, the other weak and hollow. Though different, both would play on the idea of the impunity of power and the arrogance of privilege—the idea that Ted failed to act because he had always expected his father to clean up his messes and had escaped punishment because, as a Kennedy, he was too powerful to be punished.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 517
  • But Ted Kennedy wanted both power and publicity, not because, like Lyndon Johnson, they could inflate him and make him unassailable, or because, like Richard Nixon, they could level the playing field Nixon had found so unfair, though Ted did have an ego and he did have his sense of insufficiency to address, but because he understood that they were the means to achieving his legislative goals, which were themselves a means to expiating his sins while making him worthy of his brothers. And Ted Kennedy knew how to get both power and publicity.
    • Neal Gabler, Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour, 1932-1975 (2020), p. 654
  • It was as close as it gets to a coronation. In front of a rapturous, chanting crowd, Senator Ted Kennedy yesterday enfolded Barack Obama into a hug, and in that instant drew a clear line of succession from the Democratic hero of the past to a younger generation. Now it was official: Obama was the rightful political heir to John F Kennedy as designated by his brother Ted, his daughter Caroline, and his nephew Patrick.
  • For Obama, there could be no stronger imprint of approval. With his tragic family history and his 45 years in the US Senate, Kennedy ranks second only to Bill Clinton among the Democratic party's living leaders. His support for Obama badly undermines Hillary Clinton's claim to be the candidate of choice of the Democratic establishment.
  • Bernie Sanders is no Ted Kennedy. For Hillary Clinton, that must come as a relief. We’re talking about political effect here, not ideology. Senator Sanders is a lion of the liberal left, as was Senator Kennedy, after all. But Sanders has swallowed his pride after a bruising primary campaign and endorsed his party’s presidential choice well before the Democratic National Convention. That’s something Kennedy didn’t do when he ran against President Jimmy Carter in 1980. The result was a split in the party that probably cost Democrats at the polls that November.


  • Despite being on opposite sides of the aisle, Ted Kennedy and John McCain shared a close friendship and mutual respect that seems profoundly antique in our current acrimonious political climate. The two men were the last of the lions in the Senate, which makes it only fitting that they would die of the same cancer on the exact same day only nine years apart.
  • We did not agree on much, and more often than not, I was trying to derail whatever big government scheme he had just concocted. And, in those years that Republicans held the majority in the Senate, when it came to getting some of our ideas passed into law, he was not just a stone in the road, he was a boulder.
  • We did manage to forge partnerships on key legislation, such as the Ryan White AIDS Care Act, State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and most recently, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Ted was a lion among liberals, but he was also a constructive and shrewd lawmaker. He never lost sight of the big picture and was willing to compromise on certain provisions in order to move forward on issues he believed important. And, perhaps most importantly, he always kept his word. When our carefully balanced compromise legislation came to the Senate floor, Ted often had to lead the opposition to amendments offered by Democratic colleagues that he would rather have supported. But, he took the integrity of our agreement seriously and protected the negotiated package.
  • Personally, I mourn the loss of my dear friend Ted Kennedy. I will miss sparring with him over policy, his unparalleled skills as a legislator, his wonderful sense of humor, and his generous nature. And Americans from all points on the political spectrum can surely admire the example of a United States senator who was dedicated to the last to advancing the vision of America that he held so dearly.
  • It sounds arrogant, but Teddy would have known what I meant by that. I would put together a health care bill that conservatives and liberals could live with, that would work and would have bipartisan support.
  • Well, it depends on who he endorses. If he endorses Ted Kennedy or somebody like that, George McGovern, it wouldn't make a particle of difference. You'd have to name me the candidate.
  • Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, served in the Senate through five of the most dramatic decades of American history. He became a lawmaker whose legislative accomplishments, political authority and gift for friendship across the political spectrum invited favourable comparisons to Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and a handful of other leviathans of the country's most elite political body. But he was also beset by personal frailties and family misfortunes that were the stuff of tabloid headlines.
  • He would be, of course, announcing his candidacy for the Presidency. And that is an event that would send shivers of joy, dread, anger and ecstasy throughout the country like nothing since, well … like nothing since Robert Kennedy's declaration on March 16, 1968. Except that this time feelings would run higher still. Even the Kennedy haters, and those who long ago dismissed this youngest of the Kennedy brothers as a talentless trader on family reputation, and those, too, who crossed him off after Chappaquiddick, could not help but be stirred by the realization that the curtain was being raised on the final act of an incredible American epic.
  • Could the youngest Kennedy achieve the prize that was snatched from his brothers by murderers? Or would the American political stage once again become spattered with blood and resound with police sirens? Would he go down in ignominious defeat in a state primary election, at the nominating convention, or in a general election, and thus, once and for all, dispel the “Kennedy mystique”? Or might the final tragedy be, perhaps, that this Kennedy would make it, only to become a third‐rate Chief Executive and thus demonstrate the folly of a democratic society's surrender to a subliminal yearning for royalty or leaders of mythic stature? Or would Kennedy triumph? Would he somehow be able to realize all the bright hopes of 1960, ushering in at last the “age of poetry and power” that Robert Frost thought he foresaw as the stood on the inaugural platform that blustery day in Washington 11 years ago?
  • To be sure his is an extremely tentative kind of bid, one governed by the extraordinary intricacies of his political situation, restrained by concern for his personal safety and consideration of his family responsibilities, and further held back by his serious doubt that any Democrat can defeat President Nixon in the coming year. It is a bid, moreover, that Kennedy has — at least for the time being — the unique power to retract even before it becomes fully apparent, should his prospects appear poor. Yet the fact that Kennedy has made a serious thrust toward capturing his party's nomination now seems to me beyond argument.
  • Keeping out of the primaries puts Kennedy in situation the other candidates may well envy. One or another of them may well capture a useful number of first ballot delegate commitments by winning a string of victories in the 22 state primaries to be held next year, but it is also possible that no one candidate can dominate this extraordinary proliferation of quirky and minor‐issue‐oriented contests. And possible too that the primaries will generate such fierce rivalries that the party bosses will be forced to select a nominee from among those who remained aloof, on the theory that only such a candidate would have a chance of uniting the party in time to do battle with the Republicans. Kennedy, of course, would be an obvious choice in such a situation, especially since he alone among the Democrats does not need the primaries to prove his votegetting ability; his remarkable standing in the polls is proof of that.
  • This danger to Kennedy is believed to increase or decrease in relation to the level of his public activity and visibility. For example, when Kennedy made a strong statement about Vietnam a short while ago his “'hate mail” rose in volume, whereas when he was defeated as whip last January it slackened. If Kennedy were to become a declared candidate for President, it seems reasonable to assume, he would be in still greater danger not only because he would then be much more active on the public stage but also because he would be adding another element to the symmetry proposition — becoming the third brother to associate himself with the office of the President. Even now, Kennedy receives more hate mail and threats against his life than anyone else in the country except the President. According to one count made last February, between the time of the assassination of President Kennedy and 1971 Kennedy received 355 threats serious enough to be investigated by the Secret Service. (The next two most threatened Senators were Eugene McCarthy and Barry Goldwater, who received 99 and 94 threats, respectively, during the same period.) The Secret Service does not have the authority to protect members of Congress, but traditionally it has investigated threats to all public officials on the ground that persons making such threats are a potential danger to the President and the Vice President.
Kennedy, who was unqualified when elected at the age of 30 — “If your name were Edward Moore your candidacy would be a joke,” an opponent charged — nevertheless became one of the country’s greatest Senators, the most significant in modern times. Health care, immigration, civil rights, campaign finance reform, airline deregulation, ending the Vietnam War — all Kennedy signatures. ~ Albert Hunt.
  • Kennedy, who was unqualified when elected at the age of 30 — “If your name were Edward Moore your candidacy would be a joke,” an opponent charged — nevertheless became one of the country’s greatest Senators, the most significant in modern times. Health care, immigration, civil rights, campaign finance reform, airline deregulation, ending the Vietnam War — all Kennedy signatures.
  • More than his brothers, he understood the legislative dance; the liberal lion would cut the best deal possible for his cause. To achieve this, he’d work with anyone: Republicans John McCain, Olympia Snowe, Orrin Hatch — all likely to be featured in Gabler’s second volume; in the 60s and 70s with the Southern bulls like Jim Eastland and Richard Russell.
  • If the legendary Massachusetts lawmaker had been actively involved, Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act would have gotten through more smoothly and expeditiously. Kennedy’s old friend, Joe Biden, could use him today. But even Ted Kennedy couldn’t do much, I fear, in this Senate.


  • TWO WEEKS ago Senator Ted Kennedy uttered what may turn out to be the single most disgusting remark made about the United States in the course of the Iraq War. The reaction to his slander - or rather, the lack of reaction - speaks volumes about the moral bankruptcy of the American left.
  • This was not a blurted, off-the-cuff comment - Kennedy was reading from a prepared text. It was not a shocked first reaction to the abuses at Abu Ghraib - the story had broken more than a week earlier. Incredibly, the senior senator from Massachusetts really was equating the disgraceful mistreatment of a few Iraqi prisoners by a few American troops with the unspeakable sadism, rape, and mass murder that had been routine under Saddam Hussein. Kennedy's vile calumny should have triggered outrage. Here was the most prominent liberal politician in America accusing his own government of the very savagery it said it had gone to war to uproot. It was the worst kind of anti-American poison, and it was coming not from a crackpot with no following but from one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress. It should have unleashed an uproar. It unleashed nothing.
  • To be sure, Kennedy has a long history of opposing American interests in the world. During the Cold War, he fought time and time again against US efforts to promote liberty and repel totalitarianism. From demanding the abandonment of South Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s to advocating a nuclear freeze in the 1980s to opposing the liberation of Kuwait in the 1990s, Kennedy has repeatedly raised his voice and cast his vote in support of some of the world's worst tyrants. His furious opposition to the current American campaign in Iraq is in keeping with that ignoble record. But even for Kennedy, it crosses a line to claim that US forces in Iraq are no better than the monster they toppled. It suggests that his partisan hunger to defeat President Bush is so great that he would rather see America fail in Iraq than let Bush reap the benefit of success. Which is why the silence of the liberal establishment in the face of Kennedy's terrible falsehood is so ominous.
  • I didn’t vote for Kennedy in 1982 or any other year, and I have certainly never thought of him as a saint, plaster or otherwise. Play-to-win politics, not piety, has been the essence of his long career in the Senate. He has a gift for the poignant gesture; there is no denying he is a deft hand at evoking the affection of his many admirers. But beneath the tug at the heartstrings, there is always shrewd political calculation.
  • If Kennedy is sincere - if his chief concern is that Massachusetts not be left for months without the services of a full-time senator - then he should do the right thing right now: He should resign. For well over a year, Massachusetts has not had the “two voices...and two votes in the Senate’’ that Kennedy says its voters are entitled to. Sickness has kept him away from Capitol Hill for most of the last 15 months. He has missed all but a handful of the 270 roll-calls taken in the Senate so far this year. Through no fault of his own, he is unable to carry out the job he was reelected to in 2006. As a matter of integrity, he should bow out and allow his constituents to choose a replacement.
  • Though his staff tries to keep up appearances, it is clear that Kennedy is no longer an active participant in Senate business. Few things are harder for those accustomed to power than letting it go. But there is no honor in clinging to office till the bitter end.
  • At times Biden’s rhetoric seemed almost indistinguishable from that of a Republican never-Trumper like Liz Cheney, who wants to rescue the GOP to from Trumpism. He trained his ire on those who "promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country." At others, he sounded more sound like Ted Kennedy as he warned of the social conservatives who want an America "where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love."


  • Robert Caro called Lyndon Baines Johnson the “Master of the Senate,” but the title could also have applied to Kennedy. After Chappaquiddick and his loss to Carter in 1980, Kennedy finally committed himself wholeheartedly to the body, abandoning dreams for the presidency. His record of accomplishment was striking: more than 2,500 pieces of legislation introduced and over 300 passed into law. Among his signature pieces were campaign finance reform, COBRA and No Child Left Behind. He was a man of many personal demons—too much liquor and too many women—but he also made friends easily and got along well with all manner of individuals. He was focused on results and cajoled, flattered, bargained and harangued with whomever necessary to get them.
  • The image of Kennedy as the well-regarded inside player reaching across the aisle is a bit of myth-making. For much of his career, Kennedy was a lightning rod. Republicans used him as a liberal punching bag; caricatures of him made for reliable fundraising appeals. He raised issues and pushed causes that often were before their time, including gay rights and women’s pay. Nor was Kennedy unswervingly loyal to his party. He broke with Jimmy Carter and ran against him in 1980, an ugly fight that split the party and arguably made possible Ronald Reagan’s ultimate victory. And during the Reagan years he was the ardent voice of the opposition, pushing back against any manner of Reagan initiatives, both domestic and foreign (including, notably, aid to the Contras and the buildup of weapons aimed at the USSR).
  • The centerpiece of the Institute for the U.S. Senate is a full-scale reproduction of the Senate chambers. Every day, participants can play senator, reenacting famous legislative battles and seeing how the complicated process of drafting, negotiating and compromise can lead (or not) to the passage of a bill. It’s a good and valuable lesson about how to get things done. But the lesson should not be that that’s the only way to get things done. Kennedy’s life was about public service, and the Senate was a means to accomplish that end. Legislation was one tactic, but, as Kennedy’s own career demonstrated, the Senate could also be a bully pulpit, a platform for grand ideas and a place to be the opposition. That, it seems, is what Warren is doing. Someday she may use the legislative process to achieve her own goals. For the moment, though, the tactics she’s deploying are remarkably effective—so much so that all manner of folks (including her hometown newspaper, the Boston Globe) have urged her to jump into the presidential race. She’ll likely not heed their pleas, happy where she is. Just as surely as did Kennedy, Warren is using the Senate to make stuff happen.
  • In 1980, well before he went on to become the lion of the Senate, Kennedy finally succumbed to years of public (and perhaps private) pressure to carry on the legacy of his two dead brothers and assume his rightful place in the White House. Kennedy boldly decided to take on a weak incumbent president, Jimmy Carter. But in one of the most famously incoherent moments in modern political history, when Roger Mudd of ABC News asked the usually golden-tongued senator the simple question, “Why do you want to be president?” Kennedy couldn’t answer in a way that made sense. It was the beginning of the end of his campaign. Ironically, Teddy didn’t regain his voice fully until he bowed out and the pressure was suddenly off. Then he delivered one of the greatest speeches of his life, ending in the "dream will never die."
  • Thus, much as Teddy Kennedy often seemed to be running from his notorious past—Chappaquiddick among other things—as well as the differences between his reputation and that of his brothers, it often looks as if Jeb Bush can’t quite outpace that Bush legacy, especially his own older brother’s.
  • People don’t like to speak ill of the dead, especially those who are cut down in their prime. Both Jack and Bobby had their flaws, of course, but in the aftermath of the assassinations, their reputations were almost incandescent, to many, even saint-like. Some saw their deaths as fundamental turning points in American history. What would America have been like had Jack and Bobby lived? No Vietnam? No Watergate? That made for a heavy burden for Ted and it was in this context that he struggled and often failed. At times it was ugly. There was Chappaquiddick and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, the boozing and escapades in Palm Beach, the broken marriage and the never-ending stories of infidelities and sexual philandering.
  • Like Ted Kennedy (about whom an opponent famously remarked, if his name "were Edward Moore” instead of Edward Moore Kennedy, his candidacy "would be a joke"), Jeb Bush knows he wouldn’t be where he is right now but for the family—and that includes his brother. Thanks to W, the nationwide fundraising network remains alive. And thanks to W and the fascination with the brother-to-brother comparison, Jeb’s name remains front and center—all of which is why it’s more likely than not he is the nominee in 2016. Still, it makes for a complicated mess. Jeb knows he needs to stand on his own, "to be my own man," as he says. His father in 1998 offered this advice to both W and Jeb: “ Chart your own course, not just on the issues but on defining yourselves.” With W still fresh in voters’ minds, that’s sometimes tough to do. But Jeb would be smart not to explain and measure himself in comparison to his brother. As with Ted Kennedy, you shine brightest when you finally manage to escape the shadows.
  • Edward Kennedy was once the handsomest of the handsome Kennedy boys, with a proudly jutting chin, a Nelson Eddy jaw, and Cupid's-bow lips under a thatch of chestnut hair. When he is dieting and on the wagon, there is a glimpse of that still, which makes it all the harder to see him as he more often is. There is a great desire to remember him as we remember his brothers. The Dorian Grays of Hyannis Port, John and Robert, have perpetual youth and beauty and style, and their faces are mirrors of all that is better and classier and richer than us. Ted is the reality, the 57-year-old living picture of a man who has feasted on too much for too long with too little restraint, the visible proof that nothing exceeds like excess.
  • In his autumn years, Senator Edward M. Kennedy is a man of parts. Sometimes, especially in the mornings, he seems as weak and fluttery as a butterfly. Sometimes, especially in the evenings, he seems a Senator Bedfellow figure, an aging Irish boyo clutching a bottle and diddling a blonde. But he is also a man who can rise above that caricature to stature: the leading voice of what is left of the Left in American politics, a lawmaker of great and probably increasing power, the self-appointed tribune of the disenfranchised, the patriarch of America's most famous political family and the world's most conspicuous Democrat. He is in obvious ways tragic. His three brothers and one of his sisters died violently, two by public murder. His cruel marriage ended in divorce, with his wife a recovering alcoholic. He suffers still from a back broken in a near-fatal airplane crash. His elder son lost a leg and almost his life to cancer. The parts of his life collide with each other like bumper cars, the Teddy of the tabloids giving a boozy shove to the senior senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the sordid tragedies of his unprivate private life darkening the face of the public man.
  • The Kennedy brothers always perpetuated their own glorious images, but over the years the last brother has built an image—not glorious at all—of his very own. For his hard public drinking, his obsessive public womanizing and his frequent boorishness, he has become a late-century legend, Teddy the Terrible, the Kennedy Untrammeled. In Washington, it sometimes seems as if everyone knows someone who has slept with Kennedy, been invited to sleep with Kennedy, seen Kennedy drunk, been insulted by Kennedy.
  • My last campaign may be coming up very shortly, but Teddy is around and, therefore, these campaigns can go on indefinitely.
    • John F. Kennedy, speaking on October 19, 1963, addressing potential donors at a fundraiser held at Boston's Commonwealth Armory; quoted in Kennedy Without Tears (1964) by Tom Wicker, p. 28; and "Spark Still Glows" by Edward M. (aka Ted) Kennedy, The Boston Globe, November 13, 1983, p. SMA7
  • I'm not a political leader but I can speak for those of my age who have been inspired by Teddy to give their energy and ideas to their communities and not to just for themselves. In that ongoing effort...all of you will be guided by the honorable and unyielding example of the senior Senator from Massachusetts. He has shown that our hope is not lost idealism but a realistic possibility. America is better because of the leadership of Edward Kennedy. May he continue to guide us for many years to come. Ladies and gentleman, my uncle Ted Kennedy.
  • They both recognized and loved each other’s passion. For my father’s part, everyone knew how passionate (Ted Kennedy) was and that was known for John McCain. He really loved the fight, but he never let that get in the way of respect. And that’s what is missing in today’s politics, that genuine respect for democracy.
  • He knew that my father cared for this country. He knew that my father lost his brothers for this country. He knew that my father was part of this country and respected that. And my father genuinely loved and respected John McCain. It’s an example of what we need today and that is that even though they disagreed, they were always searching for ways to put their country ahead of their party. It sounds trite, but no, not at all – These days we’re living in, we really need people to have that as their goal.
  • I think that John McCain and Ted Kennedy represent what the Senate has been at its best ... what it can be again, a place where men and women of good will can come together and address the great challenges facing our nation.
  • Senator Kennedy began his career setting a high standard when it comes to birthdays. It was when he reached the minimum constitutional age, 30, that he first came to the Senate--1 of just 16 Senators elected at such a tender age from a total of over 1,895 Senators in all of American history. By his 70th birthday he was one of just 28 Senators to ever cast over 10,000 votes. But what we celebrate along with Ted at 75--Democrats and Republicans, all in awe of a lifetime of achievement--is the way in which literally every year since he has been marking the passage of time by passing landmark legislation. The Boston Globe put it best, writing not long ago that "in actual, measurable impact on the lives of tens of millions of working families, the elderly, and the needy, Ted belongs in the same sentence with Franklin Roosevelt."
  • That sentence is not constructed lightly--it is the measure of a public servant who doesn't know the meaning of the words "you can't pass it"--"it can't happen"--"impossible." It is the measure of a Senator who--on every issue of importance: health care, war and peace, children, education, civil rights, the rights of women--can always be counted on to be in the lead, challenging on the issues, and fighting for the principles which guide a party and lift up our country. From his maiden speech in the Senate demanding an end to the filibuster of the original Civil Rights Act, there has not been a significant policy accomplishment in Washington over four decades that hasn't borne his fingerprints and benefited from his legislative skill and leadership. His is the record of progressive politics in our era. On all the great fights that call us to stand up and be counted, from the minimum wage to Robert Bork and Sam Alito, Ted didn't just hear the call to duty he led the charge.
  • Run down the list--the rights of the disabled a most personal cause for Ted--who for far too long were left in the shadows or left to fend for themselves, Ted Kennedy wrote every landmark piece of legislation that today prohibits discrimination against those with a disability. AIDS--when a whole lot of politicians were afraid to say the word, Ted passed a bill providing emergency relief to the thirteen cities hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic. Guaranteed access to health coverage for 25 million Americans who move from one job to another or have preexisting medical conditions wouldn't have happened without Ted Kennedy. Without Ted Kennedy, there wouldn't have been a bilingual education in the United States for the 5 million students who today have a brighter future because they are learning English in our schools. Without Ted Kennedy, we wouldn't have lowered the voting age to 18 and ended the hypocrisy that 18-year-olds were old enough to die for their country in Vietnam but not old enough to vote for its leadership at home. Without Ted Kennedy, we wouldn't be the world's leader in cancer research and prevention--as personal and meaningful an issue as there is in all the world for Ted Kennedy, not just a father, but a loving father of two cancer survivors. Without Ted Kennedy, we wouldn't have had title XI which opened the doors of competition and opportunity to a generation of women athletes all across our country.
  • His partnerships with his fellow Senators are well-known and oft-recited, testimony to his skill and to his convictions. From Howard Baker, Jacob Javits, and Hugh Scott to Arlen Specter, Dan Quayle, Orrin Hatch, Alan Simpson, and Nancy Kassebaum and John McCain--Ted has never hesitated to cross the aisle to accomplish his goals--to further a common agenda--finding always--that ideologies, however incompatible in the currency of conventional wisdom--can be put aside for a greater good when Senators--however different--work in good faith to make their country a better place, to improve the lives of their fellow Americans. Ted has always believed you can put aside partisanship--overcome division--and that faith in the ability to come together has mattered most in some of the most trying and divisive times our Nation has endured.
  • Ted Kennedy is the most prolific legislator in American history, but he is something more. Robert Kennedy once said the most meaningful word in all the English language is "citizen." No one has lived out the meaning of that most meaningful word more than his younger brother. For that and so much more that makes this 75th birthday special, we honor our friend, our colleague, and a great citizen, Ted Kennedy.
Without Ted, 18-year-olds might not be able to vote. There might not be a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Meals on Wheels, student loans, increases in the minimum wage, equal funding for women's college sports, health insurance portability, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the first billions for AIDS research, workplace safety, Americorps, or the Children's Health Insurance Program. ~ John Kerry.
  • Without Ted, 18-year-olds might not be able to vote. There might not be a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Meals on Wheels, student loans, increases in the minimum wage, equal funding for women's college sports, health insurance portability, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the first billions for AIDS research, workplace safety, Americorps, or the Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • Since Biden circa 2022 is often compared to 1970s Jimmy Carter due to a combination of sluggish job approval ratings, unhappy progressive activists, and big-time economic problems (especially inflation), it is germane to observe that Carter managed to soundly defeat Ted Kennedy — the liberal lion of the 1970s and subsequent decades — in the 1980 nomination contest. Are there any Ted Kennedys around right now to mobilize progressive anti-administration grievances into a successful insurgent candidacy? Someday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have that stature — but not now. Indeed, the only potential rival from any wing of the party who is in that position is Bernie Sanders, who is older than Biden. And even if there were some Kennedy-like figure available, would the fight disable the Democratic Party (as it arguably did in 1980) more than slogging ahead with the incumbent?
  • Ted Kennedy’s wit and stories, his passion for a cause and his country, and his love for the Senate just made you want to go to work every day. I had the privilege to serve with Ted Kennedy in the Senate for just two years. He was a mentor to so many of us just starting out, not in the traditional "this is how you get it done" way, but instead as an inspiration. He never gave up and had a fiery zest for the legislative battles that was always tempered by a bipartisan pragmatism. He was incredibly strong and effective and had the deep respect of everyone that worked with him.
  • It seems particularly inopportune for Sen. Edward Kennedy, for example, to use this moment to call the Iraq policy a catastrophe and a hopeless quagmire. It is possible that history will, in time, prove him right. But how does he know? To assert with such certainty that the war is lost, especially at such a hopeful time, seems more than betting against our side. It presents the political dilemma that faces all war dissidents -- particularly those whose main argument is unwinnability: It tells the brave and committed soldiers on the front line they are fighting in vain. Regardless of the sincerity of Kennedy's assertion, it carries heavy political risk. Kennedy, however, is long past aspirations for higher office. Among the 13 senators who opposed Rice are some thinking seriously of running for the presidency in 2008. Most prominent are Evan Bayh and John Kerry. And Barbara Boxer clearly used the hearings to raise her national profile. By using Rice to vigorously oppose the war, they all vie for the 2008 Howard Dean role -- albeit played calm and composed -- of unequivocal antiwar candidate and favorite of the party's activist left.


  • That's the coin of the realm. They've got to be able to talk about ideas freely. They've got to be able to discuss this without political pressure. Why do people think these are lifetime appointments? Of course, the Democrat Party is destroying this country. Look at the confirmation process. It started with Bork. The Democrats targeted him under [Sen. Ted] Kennedy and Biden, and it moves on to others, including Clarence Thomas, including Kavanaugh. Republicans don't treat Democrat nominees this way. They may object to them. When you say the Supreme Court doesn't look like America, you're undermining the credibility of the court.
  • Six years ago, when John McCain, the Arizona senator, last worked on an immigration bill, his partner was Ted Kennedy, of Massachusetts. Kennedy, especially in his final decade in the Senate, was known for working closely with ideological opponents to pass major pieces of legislation. On a recent morning, McCain sat in his dimly lit office, across the street from the Senate, and said how much he missed Kennedy.
  • Whether you liked what Ted Kennedy said that day or hated it, whether you loved Ted Kennedy or couldn’t stand him — millions of people paid attention to him when he said it. In fact, in that instance for better or worse, depending on one’s politics, Kennedy’s statement signaled not just that Bork would have a difficult time being confirmed. His blunt remarks from the Senate floor set the stage for Bork’s outright defeat, something initially considered impossible at the time. After all, Ronald Reagan was a popular president and Robert Bork was commonly considered by even opponents to be a legal giant. With his startling speech from the floor of the Senate, the sheer power of Ted Kennedy’s personality and rhetoric changed the course of history.
  • Ted Kennedy was in fact always one of 100 senators at any given moment in his senatorial career. Any one of the other 99 could have been a star at the same time. In fact, only a handful had any lasting impact over the decades, most simply treading water in the historic body leaving nary a footprint behind. Sarah Palin is one of a number of nationally prominent Republican leaders, a field that includes senators, congressmen, governors and party officials. Most Americans had trouble at any moment from 1963 until this past week identifying more than a handful of U.S. Senators — but everybody knew Senator Kennedy. So too is Sarah Palin an instant standout among her Republican leadership peers, most of whom are unidentifiable to the vast American public.
  • This is a quality that has appeared often enough in American history — and outside America as well. Senators like Ted Kennedy have been prominent before, bearing names like Henry Clay or Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater and Hubert Humphrey. Governors like New York Republican Nelson Rockefeller or Alabama Democrat George Wallace. A Congressman like Jack Kemp. Non-office holders like Martin Luther King in the United States or Mohandas Gandhi in India or Nelson Mandela in South Africa (who later became president of his country) can, through sheer force of personality, come to dominate the political scene of the day without ever bearing a single official title.
Kennedy was one of the few senators to leave an imprint exceeding that of most presidents. ~ The Los Angeles Times
  • Speculation about whether Kennedy might have pursued his passion for equality from the White House once occupied by his brother is inevitable, as is meditation on the multiple mis- fortunes of the Kennedy clan. Neither reaction to Kennedy’s death should obscure his achievement as a master legislator who combined principle and pragmatism in causes greater than his own political preservation. In saluting Kennedy as “one of the giants of American political life,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wasn’t offering pro forma praise for the dead. He was stating a fact. Kennedy was one of the few senators to leave an imprint exceeding that of most presidents.
  • “Chappaquiddick” was an indelible stain on Kennedy’s reputation, and a boon for Republicans when leaders in their party (especially Richard Nixon) were found to have engaged in wrongdoing. “Nobody died at Watergate” wasn’t just a bumper sticker; it effectively encapsulated the view that the politician who initially attempted to avoid responsibility for a young woman’s death had no business condemning the moral lapses of other individuals or of society. Yet, without ever exorcising the ghost of Chappaquiddick, Kennedy reclaimed much of the moral authority he squandered in that tragedy through the painstaking performance of his duties. Except for the awkward interlude of an ill-considered campaign for the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination, he made the Senate his arena. In time, he adapted his vision of equality and inclusiveness to issues barely broached in the 1960s.
Taken all in all, however, Kennedy contributed enormously to the realization of the sort of society he championed, despite -- or perhaps because of -- his failure to win the White House. ~ The Los Angeles Times
  • Kennedy made several missteps in his long career. His primary challenge to the centrist President Jimmy Carter probably contributed to Ronald Reagan’s landslide general-election victory. His hyperbolic warning that confirming Robert H. Bork for the Supreme Court would usher in the return of segregated lunch counters and back-alley abortions sowed the seeds of today’s petty partisanship over judicial selection. Taken all in all, however, Kennedy contributed enormously to the realization of the sort of society he championed, despite -- or perhaps because of -- his failure to win the White House.
  • Ted Kennedy’s primary challenge also damaged Carter. Though Kennedy infamously could not explain why he wanted to be president, Carter had his own theory: Kennedy saw it as his birthright. The gap between the rural Georgian farmer who grew up without shoes and the Boston aristocrat is a faultline that still hobbles the Democratic party.


  • I think Senator Kennedy will go down as one of the giants in the Senate. While he has had a rather tumultuous life with lots of ups and downs, his record in the Senate has been consistently impressive.
  • Progressives are rightly incensed that Republicans in Congress have mostly turned a blind eye to Trump's behavior, focusing instead on legislative outcomes they favor, such as tax cuts and the confirmation of conservative judge — essentially declaring that policy achievements are more important than character and conduct. But Democrats should be no more willing to forgive Kennedy for his personal transgressions because they agreed with the progressive policy outcomes he helped achieve. Moreover, that Kennedy was not only excused for his behavior but esteemed by his political peers reveals that it is not one party alone that has failed to uphold accountability and morality as guiding principles.
  • A more realistic look at Kennedy’s life does not mean his legislative accomplishments should be dismissed. He helped author the law in 1965 that ended the selection of immigrants on the basis of their national origin — a system the Trump administration is currently trying to overturn. He authored bills expanding childrens’ health insurance, and with George W. Bush, helped draft the No Child Left Behind education act. His other achievements include a minimum wage hike in 1996 and introduction of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. But that doesn’t mean Kennedy’s legacy doesn’t deserve a far more open-eyed and realistic picture of a man whose born privilege helped save his Senate career and political viability.
  • In a way, though, we betrayed ourselves. Kennedy violated our values of decency and justice and we celebrated him. In a free society, portraying history accurately is acutely important, as future generations rely on that information to make important decisions. A more honest appraisal of Kennedy's life would enhance the moral authority of Trump critics. When congressional Republicans ignore his antics, liberals can say they tried to clean up their own house first.
  • I was very sorry to hear that Senator Kennedy has taken ill, and like millions of Americans, Cindy and I anxiously await word of his condition. Senator Kennedy's role in the U.S. Senate cannot be overstated. He is a legendary lawmaker, and I have the highest respect for him. When we have worked together, he has been a skillful, fair and generous partner. I consider it a great privilege to call him my friend. Cindy and I are praying for our friend, his wife, Vicki and the Kennedy family.
  • One of his great strengths was passion on the floor, debate in the most committed way. Not only the congeniality, but also the readiness to go fight the next battle and form alliances to try to succeed on that one.
  • I feel a personal responsibility to try to conduct myself in many respects the way that Ted Kennedy did on a broad variety of issues, and that is to be willing to sit down and work with the other side of the aisle to try to come up with agreement and compromise.
  • No. I can’t think of anybody. We had a lovely relationship for a number of years there. He changed, too.
  • It is with great sadness that Elaine and I note the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the giants of American political life, a longtime Senate colleague, and a friend. No one could have known the man without admiring the passion and vigor he poured into a truly momentous life. We send our deepest expressions of sympathy to Vicki, his children, and the entire Kennedy family.
  • For his family, for his fellow Democrats, and certainly for the U.S. Senate, Ted Kennedy is a lion in winter, in spring, in summer, and in fall. He is the last link from his generation not only to his legendary brothers — Jack, the slain president; Bobby, the attorney general, senator, and fallen presidential candidate; and Joe, the war hero — but to his parents, Joe and Rose. With their ruthless ambition, the senior Kennedys set the foundation for an extraordinary American political dynasty. It is perhaps foolish to leave aside Kennedy’s own youthful transgressions. He left Harvard in a cloud of disgrace, and what other American political figure would suffer no consequence if a woman to whom he was not married died tragically in a car he was driving? But Kennedy overcame these obstacles and rose to become one of the most towering figures on the American political landscape. The diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor raises the possibility of an enormous loss — most of all to his family. Ted Kennedy has been the paterfamilias. He has mentored legions of Kennedy children, his own as well as dozens of nieces and nephews.
  • His illness also stands to create a gaping hole for the liberal wing of the Democratic party. Once it became clear he would not be president himself, he ascended to the status of senior statesman within his party. He was the voice of his party in many ways, and what a voice: always on point, and often quite pointed. His ability to work with members of the opposition also helped make him one of the most effective legislators in recent memory on Capitol Hill. Kennedy built bridges with people like Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican who is as conservative as Kennedy is liberal. In addition, the potential loss of Ted Kennedy represents a sad moment for his constituents in Massachusetts. Part of Kennedy’s strength has been his responsiveness to voters in his home state. Given the looming nature of his presence on the American political landscape — and on our cultural psyche, as a scion of Camelot — the massive media coverage surrounding his diagnosis does not seem out of proportion or ill-placed. Love him or hate him, Americans feel that they know Ted Kennedy. He is a familiar figure, and the nature of his illness is big, troubling news.
  • The signature relentlessness has paid off for Kennedy, whom colleagues in both parties describe as the most effective modern member of the Senate, and whom historians measure against a handful of the most effective senators in history. Kennedy's office has written about 2,500 bills, and more than 300 have become law. In addition, more than 550 bills Kennedy has cosponsored since 1973 — the first year Senate records showed lists of cosponsors — have been enacted. Much of that hefty pile of legislation has involved healthcare, for which Kennedy has won, bit by bit, some of the elements of the sweeping national healthcare plan he has failed to accomplish in one omnibus program.
Kennedy also made a point of phoning his colleagues and their family members at times of personal crisis, a gesture made even more powerful by the implicit reminder of the tragedies Kennedy himself had endured. ~ Susan Milligan
  • Kennedy also made a point of phoning his colleagues and their family members at times of personal crisis, a gesture made even more powerful by the implicit reminder of the tragedies Kennedy himself had endured. He was among the first to call when the son of Oregon's Republican senator Gordon Smith committed suicide. He stood by West Virginia's fragile and elderly Democrat Robert Byrd when he lost his beloved wife of 68 years, Erma. Asked for advice on bone cancer treatment for the nephew of Ohio Republican George Voinovich, Kennedy delivered — along with a personal call and painting to the ailing nephew. But perhaps most important, Kennedy understood the art of compromise and the value of incremental progress.


  • "Be a socialist or I’ll kill the kid." That’s a line I regularly used about Senator Ted Kennedy, way back. I was brash. But I was trying to characterize (and perhaps caricature) his rhetoric on abortion. You could tell he was not keen to defend abortion. So he would say that people had to support this, that, or the other government program in order to oppose abortion. Otherwise, they would lack credibility. Otherwise, they would be hypocrites, or worse.
  • The same State of the Union address that neglected the Republican goal of reforming the tax system called for an American Competitiveness Initiative that also promises an extension of growing, intrusive government. That would expand still more the federal role in education. Instead of shrinking the federal government, Bush wants to grow it. None of this change in direction will lead to a kinder, gentler Democratic Party in Congress. Tuesday night's response by newly elected Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, while far more partisan than the president's speech, was relatively moderate and restrained. But it will not be Kaine with whom Bush must deal in this election. It is the fiercely partisan Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi and George Miller.
  • Opposition to America's first offshore wind farm seems a peculiar posture for the liberal lion of the Senate. The self-indulgent squires of Cape Cod likewise seem a strange set of friends for Teddy Kennedy. He is also joined in opposition by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential prospect. Furthermore, Kennedy's key congressional allies against the wind farm are two senior Alaska Republicans who are reigning princes of pork on Capitol Hill, Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young. The Alaskans planned to dispose of the wind farm by embedding a provision in obscure legislation to be passed in the dead of night, a procedure usually abhorred by Kennedy. Not even the senator's most severe critics would accuse him of using his influence for personal gain. That only deepens the mystery of why Kennedy would align himself against environmental groups (including the radical Greenpeace) and the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee.
  • Kennedy may be evil incarnate for right-wing ideologues, but the wind farm fight shows how well he gets along with Republican politicians, such as Romney. On NBC's Meet the Press recently, Kennedy overflowed with compliments for the Republican governor. When I pointed this out to Romney, he responded by praising the Democratic senator's cooperation on Massachusetts issues — such as the wind farm. Kennedy may be evil incarnate for right-wing ideologues, but the wind farm fight shows how well he gets along with Republican politicians, such as Romney. On NBC's Meet the Press recently, Kennedy overflowed with compliments for the Republican governor. When I pointed this out to Romney, he responded by praising the Democratic senator's cooperation on Massachusetts issues — such as the wind farm. If Massachusetts politicians of both parties are against something, that's enough for the powerful Alaskan legislators. They may take issue with Kennedy ideologically, but he never has interfered with Alaskan pork. Accordingly, Stevens inserted in the Coast Guard money bill a provision enabling the governor of Massachusetts to veto the project. Ideally, that procedure is supposed to result in undiscovered passage. It did not this time, to the dismay of Teddy Kennedy and his friends, who now face a floor fight in Congress.
  • I think the lesson he learned from the Nixon era is a lesson that history teaches us: You should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The Medicare Modernization Act was certainly not perfect, but the idea was, get it done and improve it over the coming years.


An important chapter in our history has come to an end. 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. ~ Barack Obama.
  • Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy. For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom. An important chapter in our history has come to an end. 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. And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.
  • Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock. He lost two siblings by the age of sixteen. He saw two more taken violently from the country that loved them. He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his own life. He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible. It is a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. And it would have been easy for Teddy to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that. But that was not Ted Kennedy.
Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and suffering of others. His life's work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow. ~ Barack Obama.
  • Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and suffering of others. His life's work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.
  • And yet, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did. While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that is not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw him. And that's how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, but also by seeking compromise and common cause –not through deal-making and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humour.
  • But their legacies are as alive as ever, together right here in Boston. The John F. Kennedy Library next door is a symbol of our American idealism; the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate as a living example of the hard, frustrating, never-ending, but critical work required to make that idealism real. What more fitting tribute, what better testament to the life of Ted Kennedy, than this place that he left for a new generation of Americans: a monument not to himself, but to what we, the people, have the power to do together.
  • To his harshest critics, who saw him as nothing more than a partisan lightning rod, that may sound foolish, but there are Republicans here today for a reason. They know who Ted Kennedy was. It’s not because they shared Ted’s ideology or his positions, but because they knew Ted as somebody who bridged the partisan divide over and over and over again, with genuine effort and affection, in an era when bipartisanship has become so very rare. They knew him as somebody who kept his word. They knew him as somebody who was willing to take a half a loaf and endure the anger of his own supporters to get something done. They knew him as somebody who was not afraid. And fear so permeates our politics, instead of hope. People fight to get in the Senate, and then they’re afraid. We fight to get these positions and then don’t want to do anything with them. And Ted understood, the only point of running for office was to get something done—not to posture; not to sit there worrying about the next election or the polls—to take risks. He understood that differences of party or philosophy could not become barriers to cooperation or respect.
  • I'm reminded of a story that Teddy once told me about his experiences many years ago when Teddy Junior, now state Senator Ted Kennedy Junior, was sleeping after one of his cancer treatments. And Ted would wander the halls of the hospital and talk with other parents, keeping vigil over their own children. These parents lived in constant fear of what might happen if they couldn't afford the next treatment. Some calculating in their own minds what they might have to sell or borrow just to make it for a few more months, some bargaining with God for whatever they could get. And right there in the quiet of night, working people of modest means and one of the most powerful men in America shared the same intimate and immediate sense of helplessness. And Ted could, of course, afford his son's treatment. But it was that quiet dignified courage of others to endure the most frightening thing imaginable and to do what it takes on behalf of their loved ones that compelled Teddy to make those parents his cause, not out of self-interest but out of a selfless concern for those who suffer.
  • Teddy Kennedy was the weak kitten in the litter, never able to measure up to his brothers. … One problem Teddy has always had was keeping it in his pants — even when other people are around.
    • Cleo O'Donnell, (Cleo O'Donnell died in 1953, Cleo O'Donnell Jr. Kennedy family friend was the captain of Harvard Football in 1946),wife of a former Kennedy campaign aide, quoted in Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up (1989) by Leo Damore, p. 285. This has sometimes been quoted with "The accident at Chappaquiddick displayed his chronic immaturity" as part of the quotation of O'Donnell, but this is actually a statement by author Leo Damore.
Everyone I spoke to, Republican or Democrat, agreed Kennedy would be out front leading the charge against Trump, not standing back for a minute and launching volley after volley. ~ Niall O’Dowd.
  • The Democratic Party right now badly lacks a leader, like Kennedy, to launch that kind of campaign. Elizabeth Warren appears to be the closest. The woman now representing Kennedy’s beloved Massachusetts in the senate has traded blows with Trump on Twitter, but the fact that she is relatively unknown nationwide dampens her impact.


  • There was no way to work that night in the Colorado hotel into the biography that unspooled thereafter and came to such a sudden end on Sunday. In Massachusetts, for decades, political writers wrestled with where to place Chappaquiddick into the saga of Ted Kennedy, and too many of them gave up and erased the event and Mary Jo Kopechne. But it is 2020 now, and Jeffrey Epstein is dead and Harvey Weinstein is in a New York courtroom, and erasing a female victim is no longer a viable moral and ethical strategy.


  • Senator Ted Kennedy was a true American patriot. He fought for civil rights, decent health care and dignity for all people. He will be deeply missed throughout our state and nation. Senator Kennedy was an optimist, believing that our country's finest chapters are still to be written. May his work remind us of the importance of dedicating ourselves to serving our country.


We have heard this lion roar on the Senate floor on so many occasions. His work ethic is unsurpassed. His effectiveness is legendary. The challenge Senator Kennedy now faces will not be easy, but I think no one is more prepared to fight and beat it. ~ Harry Reid
  • Today, we learned the concerning news about our friend, an American icon, an American legend, Senator Ted Kennedy. I know I speak for every Senator that our thoughts and prayers are with Ted and his family. I had a conversation on the floor with Senator McConnell. He told me during the Republican caucus today they paused to say a prayer for Senator Kennedy, as we did in our caucus. One of Senator Kennedy's brothers was killed in combat in World War II. Of course, we all know his brother, President Kennedy, was assassinated. We all know Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, was assassinated. As I said outside, the thing I remember and will always remember about Senator Ted Kennedy is the speech he gave at his brother's funeral. I was not a Member of Congress at that time, but I watched on national television the speech he gave. It was remarkable what he said and how he delivered it. I will never forget that. But in addition to that, we know one thing--all of us who know Ted Kennedy--he is a fighter. We have heard this lion roar on the Senate floor on so many occasions. His work ethic is unsurpassed. His effectiveness is legendary. The challenge Senator Kennedy now faces will not be easy, but I think no one is more prepared to fight and beat it.
  • Kennedy’s message [to Yuri Andropov] was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”
    • Peter Robinson, Ted Kennedy's Soviet Gambit, Forbes, 28 August 2009
  • When President Reagan chose to confront the Soviet Union, calling it the evil empire that it was, Sen. Edward Kennedy chose to offer aid and comfort to General Secretary Andropov. On the Cold War, the greatest issue of his lifetime, Kennedy got it wrong.
    • Peter Robinson, Ted Kennedy's Soviet Gambit, Forbes, 28 August 2009
The arc between their careers was striking. Obama was born just a year before Kennedy came to the Senate in November 1962, and the younger man’s election as president marked an historic fulfillment of the civil rights debate in which Kennedy took part as a freshman lawmaker. ~ David Rogers
  • Elected first in 1962, the 77-year-old Massachusetts liberal was rooted in the civil rights and Great Society battles of that decade, but his enduring strength was an ability to renew himself through his mastery of issues and the changing personalities of the Senate. Nowhere was this more clear than in Kennedy’s early support of Barack Obama in 2008, when the young Illinois Democrat needed to establish himself against more veteran rivals for the White House. Kennedy not only campaigned for Obama but, at risk to his own health, opened the Democratic National Convention a year ago in Denver and returned to Washington repeatedly last winter to cast needed votes to move the new president’s economic recovery agenda. The arc between their careers was striking. Obama was born just a year before Kennedy came to the Senate in November 1962, and the younger man’s election as president marked an historic fulfillment of the civil rights debate in which Kennedy took part as a freshman lawmaker.
  • Behind the scenes, Kennedy remained a force and had left in place a division of labor for the committee, which his old friend Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) helped to implement. Kennedy could typically work the telephones back to Washington for several hours a day as his energy permitted, and when the bill was finally reported July 15 after a marathon series of markups, he was described as almost giddy, laughing on the phone. But Republicans complained that without Kennedy, Democrats were less willing to make the concessions needed for true compromise. As Senate action stalled before the August recess — and the national debate swung wildly at the grass-roots level — Kennedy’s absence was felt more sharply. This was one of the great ironies of the senator’s career. For decades, his liberalism and labor ties made him a butt of ridicule for the right. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) first came to Congress literally campaigning against Ted Kennedy liberalism. But over time, that standing allowed Kennedy to be an agent for compromise, an independent actor with a penchant for deal making that even annoyed his own party leaders. This was true on education, immigration and health issues in the past decade. No other single Democrat could provide such political cover for others when he opted to move to the center.
  • Because there are -- the majority of people on the no-fly list are oftentimes people that basically just have the same name as somebody else who don't belong on the no-fly list. The -- former Senator Kennedy -- Ted Kennedy once said he was on a no- fly list. I mean, there are -- I -- we -- there are journalists on the no-fly list. There are others involved in the no-fly list that wind up there. These are everyday Americans that have nothing to with terrorism. They wind up on the no-fly list. There's no due process or any way to get your name removed from it in a timely fashion. And now they're having their Second Amendment right being impeded upon.
  • There was something discomforting about Carter going back 30 years plus to hear him blame Kennedy for his own administration's failure. Of course, in fairness, Kennedy -- while now revered as a saint -- was not the most sympathetic and beloved figure back in the day. Chappaquiddick aside, he was widely seen as a man with many pleasures, most of which had to do more with himself than the Senate. From the moment Carter was inaugurated in 1977, he was always seen as plotting against him; at least that was the view of many in the Carter White House. It wasn't until after his challenge to Carter's nomination in 1980 failed and after he realized that the presidency was not in the cards for him did he become a true giant of the Senate. But Carter has always been one not to forget slights. And while it's always dangerous to dabble in psycho-babble, I'm sure he had to resent the widespread view among many in the party that he only won the nomination in 1976 because Kennedy stayed out of the race, and that the nomination in 1980 was Kennedy's for the asking were the Massachusetts senator to run -- many in Congress had said that out loud, including House Speaker Tip O'Neill. That had to grate on the president. Carter, in fact, told a group of congressmen in 1979 that if Kennedy were to challenge him, "I'll whip his ass." And he did. I'm not a fan of speaking ill of the dead, but at the same time, history should not bend depending on whether the subject is alive or dead. Kennedy spent most of his last years as an American icon, and deservedly so, far removed from the joke and the playboy and the dilettante he was portrayed as during much of his early time in the Senate. You can't write honestly about Edward Moore Kennedy without both accounts.


I worked with Ted Kennedy. He was the chairman of my committee, and I loved Ted Kennedy. ~ Bernie Sanders.
  • I worked with Ted Kennedy. He was the chairman of my committee, and I loved Ted Kennedy. But on this issue, when you have one of the large Latino organizations in America saying vote no and you have the AFL-CIO saying vote no and you have leading progressive Democrats, in fact, voting no, I don't apologize for that vote.
  • But the appeal of Buchanan also marks the Democratic Party's failure to champion working people. Ever since Jimmy Carter beat out Ted Kennedy in the 1980 primaries, Democratic leaders have distanced themselves from organized labor and their constituency, those who need government to fight for their economic interests.
  • Most importantly, though, Chappaquiddick reminds us confirmation bias and wishful thinking aren’t unique to one side of the aisle. In the era of President Trump, media members have had fun telling Republicans that they have abandoned all of their moral principles in order to back a man whose agenda they support. But Democrats beat Republicans there by decades: They not only overlooked a man who likely committed manslaughter but also made him into a hero, the "Lion of the Senate." We can’t understand how morals and politics have been split in two without reckoning with this history.
  • Of course, that isn’t true. At all. Democrats routinely overlook powerful politicians accused of sexual misconduct, from the late Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy to former President Bill Clinton to Biden himself. It all depends on the politics of the moment. And the reality is that Cuomo was a liability for Democrats not merely because of his penchant for grabbing butts, but because his COVID-19 performance was so abysmal.
  • The end of a lengthy political career is almost invariably sad, whether the final act is defeat, infirmity, or death. Ted Kennedy and John McCain both fought valiantly in public to remain active senators despite the dire diagnosis of aggressive brain cancer. Former segregationist Strom Thurmond treated the Senate as a high-class rest home as he—barely able to recognize his surroundings—nominally served the people of South Carolina until he died in office at age 100.
  • Well don't throw anything now, because we're not talking about philosophy or party. The finest legislator I ever worked with was Ted Kennedy. He had a magnificent staff, he even had a parliamentarian on that staff of his. So when you were in the legislative arena and you were bringing your lunch and staying late, you wanted to get Ted on your side or least use some of his expertise. I would go to him sometimes early on and say look, you'll have to trust me, what the hell do I do right now to move this bill? Boy I'll tell you he had ways to do it and as you can see he uses those skills on issues in which I was totally on the other side. I can't remember them all there were so many. We were never on the same side. But he is a legislator.
  • Edward M. Kennedy, despite his long career in the U.S. Senate, is still often known as Teddy, the diminutive attached to him as the youngest brother in his powerful family. The nickname persists because he was blessed and cursed by the gift of years that let him lead a full and well-publicized life that could only diminish him against the gargantuan mythology grown up around his murdered brothers John and Robert.
  • Clymer reconstructs with impressive and sometimes exhausting detail all the major legislative struggles Ted Kennedy has had in his nearly four decades in the Senate, whether they were winning efforts or losing battles. He recounts Kennedy's steadfast and often eloquent defense of the poor and the disadvantaged. But the description of Kennedy's failed presidential campaign in 1980 is, because the campaign itself was inept and ill considered, devastating. Here was the heir to the Kennedy political myth, the beneficiary of more loyal political talent than any other candidate in history, making a fool of himself and damaging a sitting Democratic President in the process. Ted Kennedy's personal failings, including the fatal car crash at Chappaquiddick, his flagrant womanizing and broken marriage, his excessive drinking, his enabling role in the boozy evening that led to his nephew William Kennedy Smith's trial (and acquittal) for rape--all are dealt with matter-of-factly and unsensationally, but not without judgment. Clymer describes these episodes as they were: egregious cases of irresponsible behavior that disqualified Kennedy from ever being President. But he also paints a sympathetic picture of a lonely man who finds love with his second wife Vicki.
  • Steel makes Robert seem less than we remember; Clymer makes Teddy more important than we may have thought.


  • He's been around so long he knows the ins and outs of the rules. He knows how to reach out and put his arm around somebody and say, 'Can't you go along with me on this one?' He's the way the Senate used to work.


  • If this primary is about youth and genealogy, Kennedy wins. It was always going to be up to Markey to make it about something else. And so far, that hasn’t happened. That’s partly because the race was overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and then by the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. But it’s also because Markey hasn’t really made the best case he has — his age and seniority. Or used the best example he has to make it — Ted Kennedy. Over 47 years in Washington, Ted Kennedy pushed what he called "the cause of his life," which was health care reform. One of the last things he did before his death from brain cancer at 77 was to submit the Affordable Health Choices Act, which eventually became the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama.


  • Once upon a time, the country was crawling with pro-life liberals and leftists. Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, one of the period's preeminent liberal Democrats, once declared that the right to life begins at "the very moment of conception," a position he held until 1975. Further left, the Black Panther Party fiercely denounced abortion, a procedure it associated with eugenics. When New York liberalized its abortion rules in 1970, the party paper declared the change a "victory for the oppressive ruling class who will use this law to kill off Black and other oppressed people before they are born….How long do you think it will take for voluntary abortion to turn into involuntary abortion to turn into compulsory sterilization?" Like Kennedy, the Panthers didn't reverse themselves on the issue until the mid-'70s.
  • I think Kennedy just saw Carter as sort of a backwoods nobody who was going to be gone, you know, in a couple of months. And he really had contempt for him as having not a lot of accomplishments and not a lot of pedigree. So they were just from alien worlds. I think that played a - worlds that were alien to each other. And I think that played a lot into why they couldn't understand each other.
  • Kennedy’s last words were a eulogy for his campaign. He sought to capture its essence as having upheld something bigger and greater even than politics. He cast himself in defeat as a prophetic figure whose intransigence and bullheadedness were effort to call his brothers and sisters in the party back to their faith, an attempt to redeem and redirect his wayward party and a wayward president.
  • Ted Kennedy changed my life. He changed how I understood what a public servant does. And I think of him in this race every single day, and I come to this convention, and I think of him every single hour. And what I think about is that it is my job and it is our job to live up to what it is Senator Kennedy asked of himself, and that is, we do our work for hard-working families who are counting on us.
  • I know what he’s capable of — he’s capable of bigness that we didn’t see that in general election campaign that was run. I would hope that’s the path that he goes down. His political epitaph is going to be dictated by how he conducts himself in next six or 13 years. Will he be seen as a giant of the Senate who came back from a presidential loss like Scoop Jackson, Robert Taft or Ted Kennedy, or will he go down a different path? Only he can decide it.
  • When did Ted Kennedy become Jabba the Hutt? He's huge! You're a Kennedy, not a Macy's Day float!! Bring him down, we're voting! No sir, I said "no" to the Krispy Kreme!!


  • Too often, the political system seems biased toward elected officials who only care about re-election. Politicians are eager to please interest groups who contribute to their campaign funds and activist organizations who will deliver the vote. Americans suspect that a majority of politicians are willing to switch their position on any given day, depending on which way the political winds are blowing. Everyone, we sometimes fear, is a flip-flopper. This was certainly not the case with Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy. He was a refreshing presence in Washington for many Americans, even those on the right who hated the political ideas that he championed. Love him or hate him, as Walter Sobchak might say, at least Kennedy stood for something.
  • Without question, Kennedy has been the single biggest legislative champion of health care reform since the 1960s. Kennedy has continued to push for a single-payer system, criticizing Democrats, including President Clinton, who abandoned that goal.
  • To be sure, Kennedy's career was scarred by his personal life. Worst of all, Kennedy was involved in a horrible accident in 1969. Early on July 18, 1969, Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts and his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned. Kennedy escaped but did not tell police about the incident until the next morning. Although Kennedy claimed that he immediately went to seek assistance, the media discovered this to be false. Kennedy's travails received massive coverage. The accident dashed any hope that he had of successfully running for president. But in his public life, Kennedy was the kind of politician who seems absent from modern politics, one who was loyal to an ideological outlook -- an ethos, as Sobchak would say -- and who devoted his career toward fighting for that cause. Many Democrats loved Kennedy for the same reason that some Republicans hated him -- he was a true believer in a political system that privileges compromise and the abandonment of principle. Kennedy was not that kind of politician and, for many Americans, that meant a lot.

See also

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Kennedy in his own words