Thursday, August 27, 2009

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

I want to draw attention to a post on The Catholic Story by Deacon Eric Stoltz entitled “Go and do likewise”: Thoughts on Health Insurance Reform. It is about health care reform and what it means to see this issue from a Christian perspective.

I have to say that I am appalled by the vitriol heaped upon Ted Kennedy by many in the wake of his death the day-before-yesterday, Eric points to this at the beginning of his post. There are two things I have thought about these past few days. One is his career-long commitment to universal health care and the second is the dignity with which he faced his cancer. In response to Deacon Eric's piece, I wrote the following:

"The thing about Sen. Kennedy is that he was pragmatic about how to achieve universal coverage- as long as it was universal, affordable, and easy to access! He is probably the missing ingredient in the Administration's current push to achieve universal coverage.

"The church clearly teaches that access to basic health care, to include preventative care, etc. is a human right. So, we are committed to this cause. Ted Kennedy, as early as his first campaign for Senate, made this his cause. He was being honest when he said last summer it was the cause of his life. It is a worthy cause."

Of course, there other worthy causes of which he was champion, including unions, inclusion of the diabled, and civil rights.

The other observation I weighed in with in response to another thoughtful reflection by my friend Kim, was how much I admired "the courage and dignity with which he endured his terminal illness." To me, this speaks volumes about a person.

None of this ignores the fact that were issues, even fundamental and crucial issues, on which I thought he was just plain wrong. Most prominently among these was his stance on abortion, which changed from pro-life to pro-choice and his views on marriage. Also, he seems to have never proposed or supported a program that was too expensive for U.S. tax payers to fund. Stated simply, subsidarity was a word with which he seemed utterly unfamiliar, although he understood solidarity quite well. I also disagreed with his request, made last week, to change Massachusetts law to allow Gov. Patrick to appoint someone to take his place in the Senate, instead of holding an election. I opposed this because the law was changed to require an election in 2004, when Mitt Romney, a Republican, was governor of the state and there was the possibility that Sen. Kerry would be elected president. The change was made to prevent Gov. Romney from appointing a Republican. This struck me as way too political in the worst sense. Of course, there is the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, for which he was undeniably culpable, at least to some extent. Who knows how this weighed on him over the years? I certainly do not.

I think the New York Times obituary summarized the life of Sen. Kennedy well: "He was a celebrity, sometimes a self-parody, a hearty friend, an implacable foe, a man of large faith and large flaws, a melancholy character who persevered, drank deeply and sang loudly." Sounds pretty Irish to me. Ted Kennedy, R.I.P.


  1. …like we’ve all been saying, it’s not a good proposition. Look at Canada and all other countries that have this type of health reform…it’s not beneficial to folks who truly need good and quick health attention.