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And now he’s gone

Much is being said this week about the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. First diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May, 2008, our senior senator carried forth for more than 15 months, all the while spending his remaining days fighting with great passion for the causes he always supported.

Let it be noted that this scion of a large Boston Irish-American family played an extraordinary role in the political life of Boston and the state. The last child born into great wealth and influence, he nevertheless lived out a life that made him a historic figure in the social, civic, and political life of this country.

For some of us, it was not always clear that “young Teddy” would have such a remarkable impact. In 1962, some of us locals (from Dorchester and South Boston) were rooting for Eddie McCormack, the brash, towheaded nephew of the Speaker of the House, to take the Senate seat that had been vacated when Teddy’s brother went to the White House.

That year, I was fresh out of high school, waiting to begin college classes in the fall, and I spent the summer as a student volunteer campaigning across the Commonwealth for McCormack. It seemed to us McCormack loyalists that this youngest Kennedy was not, indeed could never be, the equal of his older brothers, Jack and Bobby. Our campaign was “Eddie vs. Teddy,” and in the inner circle of the McCormack campaign, someone printed up a pair of bumper stickers that read, “I Back Jack,” “But Teddy Isn’t Ready.” For his part, Ted Kennedy’s campaign slogan became, “He Can Do More for Massachusetts.”

Now, taking the measure of a political career that spanned 46 years in the US Senate, it is easy to see which campaign had it right those many years ago.

Teddy was ready.
He did more for Massachusetts.
And now he’s gone.