Teddy Kennedy was the youngest, the irresponsible, the playboy brother of the Kennedy generation whose plan was to have achieved the heights of American politics. That was how he looked in the 1960s, when John became president and was killed, and Bobby was fighting with successor Lyndon Johnson.
You can never tell how it’s going to turn out.
Now, the Lion of the Senate is gone, not having been able to hang on long enough to see health care reform passed.
The next generation of Kennedys is scattered, diluted. He was the last of the family to achieve national political standing, the standing his father had wanted for his family.
We Americans love a story of redemption, of ill-got gains justified, a playboy turned into a statesman. We’ve seen it often enough, in Edward Kennedy for just one, to have hoped for it in George Bush and to have been disappointed.
The difference is that somewhere along the line, Kennedy learned that standing on principle was the key.
We can hope that he’s not the last to learn that lesson.