Just heard that Ted Kennedy died tonight. I disagreed with him on practically everything, and he was certainly a far cry from being an exemplary human being. Still, he had become something of an institution and I'm kinda sad he's gone. I wonder if his passing will improve prospects for passage of a health-care bill as some kind of "tribute" to the old scoundrel.
When I worked on Capitol Hill in the late 1970s I had occasion to run into Ted Kennedy from time to time. I worked briefly for Bob Bauman and Bob got a key amendment passed in the House (doesn't much matter what now but it had to do with the National Science Foundation) and Kennedy was chairing the Senate committee that would be considering it. We knew he would oppose it so several of us went to the committee hearing where it was considered. It certainly appeared as if he knew next to nothing about most issues except what was whispered in his ear by aides. I think he was relentlessly ideological as a substitute for genuine thinking, for which he seemed to have little or no facility.
What a terrible, long, drawn-out way to go. Condolences to his family.
On the other hand, a few years later when I was the Libertarian Advocate and part of the coalition to deregulate the airlines, Kennedy's office sent a representative, an extremely knowledgeable and capable guy who quickly assumed a leadership role. So he was on the right side of that issue -- it had become something of a liberal and consumerist cause -- and was capable of attracting talent and sharing it for a cause he believed in.