Senator Kennedy (D-MA)

21 May

All of this happened in 1994, so my memory of exact events and places may be somewhat faulty. For that, my apologies.

During the summer and fall of 1994 I was living with my then-fiance in a small one-bedroom apartment in Waltham, Massachusetts. At the time, I was either studying for the New York and Massachusetts Bar exams or else I had started working for the small neighborhood law firm at which I spent my first few years of practice. I was a rarity at the time – a registered Republican in Massachusetts, although we had a charismatic Republican governor, Bill Weld (more on him in a separate post). We did, however, have two very well-known Democratic Senators, Kerry and Kennedy.

In 1994, Senator Kennedy’s continuity in the Senate was being threatened by a charismatic Republican challenger named Mitt Romney. He was doing so well in the polls that the Kennedy campaign was getting spooked. Luckily, a lot of old Kennedy hands came back on board to help the Senior Senator keep his seat, which he ultimately did. Say what you want about the Senator, he always looked out for the poor, for the less fortunate, and for the Commonwealth.

One day I received a call from a dear family friend who was helping the Senator’s re-election effort. He remembered that we lived in Waltham and asked if we wanted to come and see him address a campaign rally at a union hall on Trapelo Road. Not being one to pass up seeing and hearing a living legend speak on friendly home turf, I jumped at the chance.

We parked on the street and made our way through the union guys and volunteers handing out lit and chose our seats on the aisle halfway back in the majestic hall. At some point I recall being permitted to go backstage where I didn’t see the Senator, but then-gubernatorial candidate Mark Roosevelt was waiting to speak.

(Note this from the Wikipedia entry for Roosevelt: “Roosevelt was appointed on August 3, 2005, to the position of [Pittsburgh] school superintendent. He accepted this post under the terms of a unique performance-based “Accountability Contract.”)

After Roosevelt and some other pols spoke, someone went up to introduce Senator Kennedy. We stood up and looked back towards the doors of the hall and our family friend was pointing at me and whispering something in the Senator’s ear. As the Senator made his way down the aisle to a standing ovation, roaring applause, he shook just about every hand extended to him. He made a special stop to our seats and shook our hands, thanking us for being there.

The speech itself is both a blur and seared in my memory banks. Although I have no recollection of its content, I distinctly remember how riveting it was. That unmistakable, familiar voice. That dropping of the r. The cadence and tone. It was a magical thing to hear and an incredible place to be.

I was pleased that I had the opportunity that November to pull a lever for the Senator in 1994 and again at the Oak Square firehall in Brighton in 2000. The news that he is ill came as a shock and I wish him a speedy recovery and good thoughts.

(Edit – one of the paragraphs didn’t read right. I make change. KTHXBAI).

24 Responses to “Senator Kennedy (D-MA)”

  1. Buffalo Girl May 21, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    One day when I was getting off the T (subway)at Park Street Station on my way to work I saw a crowd of people, about 30, standing in a big bunch around something. I asked someone in the crowd what was going on and he told me that the day after election day, every year he was up for election, Ted Kennedy would come to that street corner alone, unaccompinied by security, to shake hands and tell his constiuents thank you. So that was the day I got to meet Ted Kennedy (and his wife) on the streets of Boston. I thought it was a very cool thing for a Senator to do. Prayers to him and the whole Kennedy family.

  2. Buffalo Girl May 21, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    And I love that picture you chose BP!

  3. peter scott May 21, 2008 at 9:53 am #

    a lot of people will denounce the Kennedy’s as philanderers, elitist…ultra-liberal…

    but people must realize that the Kennedy’s surely fought for Americans with great fervor…

    it would have been pretty easy for Teddy to hang it up in the Senate long ago…

    I mean, who has 2 brothers (one President, one would-be President) killed, run for President almost 30 years ago…and then just stick around for the “mundane” goings-on in the Senate…

  4. OPNY May 21, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    Too bad Mary Jo Kopechne couldn’t attend these grand events.

  5. Frieda May 21, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    ‘Kennedy attended the funeral at Arlington National Cemetery and listened for a half hour as Brian Hart explained that his son had felt unsafe riding in Humvees that lacked protective armor…..

    Kennedy subsequently held hearings and pushed through legislation guaranteeing that all Humvees would be armored and that all soldiers would have body armor.’

    “Sen. Kennedy single-handedly has saved hundreds of lives. We feel he never received the credit for the work he did on this,” Hart said.

  6. hank May 21, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    Sen. Kennedy single-handedly has saved hundreds of lives.
    And squandered one(Mary Jo), for the advancement of his political career and family legacy.

    JOHN Kennedy saved the lives of every survivor of his PT Boat. And brought us back from the brink of Nuclear War.

    He also cut taxes,something his brother never did, and won’t discuss.

    It’s easy to “look out for poor people and the Commonwealth” when you’re using someone else’s money. And do it to stay in Power.

    Charles Barkley said recently “Poor people have voted Democrat for 50 years–and those people are still poor”. That’s Ted Kennedy’s legacy. Kept the poor folks poor, while he stayed in office and got richer.

    Obviously someone liberals percieve as an icon,because he made living off of the taxpayers sweat and labor a lucrative career.

  7. peter scott May 21, 2008 at 11:23 am #

    kennedy did need the Senate to make a living…at all…

    you think he built that compound off a US Senator’s salary?

  8. peter scott May 21, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    check that…

    kennedy DIDN’T need the Senate to make a living…at all

  9. Hello there May 21, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    And then, after meeting Ted, you moved to Buffalo and started this blog. You should have stayed in Boston. It may not be the best city in the world, but it beats the hell out of the hell hole that is Western NY.

  10. Chaz May 21, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    The picture at the top of this post should be called dumb and dumber.

  11. eliz. May 21, 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    Nice tribute, BP. TK’s has always been a welcome voice to hear.

  12. Chaz May 21, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    eliz:

    What have you been growing in your garden and smoking to formulate such a thought?

  13. Russell May 21, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Times like this, it’s proper to put politics aside. I don’t agree with Ted Kennedy on many things, but that doesn’t matter right now. I do respect him, but even that doesn’t matter. My thoughts and prayers are with him and as far as I’m concerned, that’s all that matters right now. I’m embarrassed at what some others have said on this thread. This is not the time for those comments. You’re entitled to your views and opinions but this just shows no class. Bad form.

  14. Chris M May 21, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    “The speech itself is both a blur and seared in my memory banks. Although I have no recollection of its content, I distinctly remember how riveting it was.”

    Sounds like the experience of listening to Obama speak. The content doesn’t matter, partly because there is none. It’s all about his style, and the soaring rhetoric of empty promises.

  15. mike hudson May 21, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    the doctors are giving him three years to live, at the outside. i guess people have good reason to be frightened of the clintons.

  16. Chaz May 21, 2008 at 1:53 pm #

    Russell,

    You are right, people should hold back there comments about this douchebag. How insensitive!

  17. mike hudson May 21, 2008 at 2:05 pm #

    and buffalo girl, which wife was it you met? i was always a big fan of the mini-skirted, vodka-swilling joan myself.

  18. KevinP May 21, 2008 at 2:15 pm #

    I can’t believe it’s not going to be the booze that kills him

  19. Frieda May 21, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    ‘Charles Barkley said recently “Poor people have voted Democrat for 50 years–and those people are still poor”. That’s Ted Kennedy’s legacy. Kept the poor folks poor, while he stayed in office and got richer’

    You have to be joking with that line. Plus what Barkley didn’t say is that states which tend to vote democratic are generally the states which have the highest median, and per capita income levels. Like Mass which is always near or at the top of those lists.

  20. Timothy Domst May 21, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

    The idea that Ted Kennedy used his office to get rich is just nonsense. I believe he really does care about people, but the sad thing is that his mindset that you can just spend money on a program and never bother to find out whether the program achieves any of its aims, that spending money is in and of itself a measure of government achievement, doesn’t help people in the long run.

  21. John May 21, 2008 at 4:20 pm #

    Chaz,

    I hope this isn’t insensitive, but yer mom still owes me change from the $5. Could you have a word with her? Thanks.

  22. mike hudson May 21, 2008 at 4:25 pm #

    wasn’t this the blog where chris smith posted an infantile sendup of the charleton heston on the day he died? like i said, too bad ted had to go and endorse obama, who promptly screwed up and lost in massachusetts. it’s so much better to go out with a win!

  23. Hate the Bushes May 22, 2008 at 9:04 pm #

    We have a coke abusing, drunk driving, wife beating, self proclaimed alcoholic, lying, cheating, draft dodging son of a whore who has sent over 4000 american men and woman to their death, not to mention the million or so Iraqies, in the White House and you find fault with Ted Kennedy. Hilarious. Really.

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