"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

To The Senator

I've not been a Kennedy fan.

Didn't vote for JFK. Disliked Bobby because he usurped one of my heroes Eugene McCarthy. (Another hero was Barry Goldwater) Told jokes about Chappaquiddick, and about taking the "ass" out of m'chusetts and sending him to Washington.

But.

I admire fighters, survivors, bulldogs, mavericks, rebels, minorities--those who stand up no matter the odds or the sloth of status quo and the opiate of conventional wisdom and group think.

So, here's a toast to The Senator Teddy M. Kennedy, a rich guy who fought for the little guy.

Time Magazine reports, in "The Brother who mattered most":

"... he had 46 working years in Congress, time enough to leave his imprint on everything from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the Edward M. KennedyServe America Act of 2009, a law that expands support for national community-service programs. Over the years, Kennedy was a force behind the Freedom of Information Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He helped Soviet dissidents and fought apartheid. Above all, he conducted a four-decade crusade for universal health coverage, a poignant one toward the end as the country watched a struggle with a brain tumor. But along the way, he vastly expanded the network of neighborhood clinics, virtually invented the COBRA system for portable insurance and helped create the laws that provide Medicare prescriptions and family leave."

And he kept the liberal torch aflame through the years in an increasingly conservative nation. I was a conservative when I thought conservatives were the minority. But what I saw as "we" gained power was a subjugation of the middle class and the lower class. Rich folks didn't care. As I changed my views, I saw people like The Senator fighting for my rights, for the rights of the common man, as he did in the fight against Robert Bork:
"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, children could not be taught about evolution," he said.

His power and independence are needed more than ever with the continued assault on reason and education and religious freedom and individual liberties in this country by the religious right's crusade against independent thought. Look no further than the Sarah Palin blitzkrieg, and most recently, the staged Nazi-style violent outbursts at the health care town hall meetings. Or the demagogues' outright lying and hate-mongering on right-wing radio and television, demeaning decency and insulting intelligence.

The Senator's no saint. We'll hear a lot about him, both positive and negative in the coming days. Some will be true, some won't. But we are a better, freer people for his service, for his influence.

I've not been a Kennedy fan, but I recognize greatness when I see it, and salute a Senator who mattered.


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