Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy, R.I.P

Ted Kennedy has departed this earth for what will surely be an awkward reunion with Mary Jo Kopechne.

What to say about Ted?

Nick Gillespie at reason highlights some bad legislation and hopes for the end of an era of political hubris. Nick's a bit tougher on NCLB than I would be but on target in praising airline and trucking deregulation and dissing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Economist takes an oddly literary tone in its meditation on great men with great flaws. Surely, Ted was more interesting than either of his brothers. But a great man? I don't see it. I think negligent homicide rules you out on that one, no matter what comes after, particularly when you use your connections to largely dodge any punishment and when what comes after is a decidedly mixed bag.

I like this comment from the Economist piece too: "Ted Kennedy, more influential than his two dead brothers... Such an accomplishment! That shows how in the politics, being outside a coffin makes a world of difference."

This doubleXX post, which was linked to by the marginal revolutionaries, takes a more positive view, making what is to me an odd analogy between Ted Kennedy and Chuck Colson. It actually took me a while to realize that the author was equating running a religious ministry to help prisoners with being a senator as examples of public service. I have met a few genuine public servants in my day. They are rare and, in my experience, not elected.

Finally, I should note that back in 1982, Ted Kennedy co-sponsored (with Dan Quayle of all people) the Job Training Partnership Act, and thereby set in motion my dissertation research. Truly, he has touched us all.

Addendum: full Economist obituary (as opposed to the Democracy in America blog post above). A bit kinder than I would be, and oddly no mention of deregulation on the plus side, but very fine overall.