Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ted Kennedy—A mess of a man, and exhibit A of why it is good to be less judgmental, and more forgiving

I was once a young Republican who had a deep seated gut feeling that Teddy Kennedy was bad for America. Over the years my views mellowed, and Kennedy too evolved.

It is interesting to consider this man. If you read the New York Times obituary (one of the longest I remember seeing) you read of someone with huge, glaring, even horrifying flaws. He was a spoiled rich boy who at best committed manslaughter and got away with it.

Yes, many of the things that most of us average folk struggle to achieve were never part of Teddy Kennedy’s world. He never had to worry about paying rent, or a mortgage.

I am always fascinated by people like him who despite being given everything also have it in their DNA to give back. Regardless of what you think of his politics, you have to admit he did all he could, given his world view, to fight for a better society.

I’ve contemplated and studied the lives of leaders like Ted Kennedy, Ted Stevens of Alaska, and Hillary Clinton for years. Stevens was convicted and then had his conviction overturned, for allegedly petty crimes related to home improvements—nothing compared to Kennedy’s actions that led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Yet I firmly believe, no, I know from personally meeting and seeing both of these men in action, that their work in the U.S. Senate made our country a better place. It is popular to hate politicians and to tear them down, yet it takes a special perseverance to survive such an onslaught of vitriol. Hillary Clinton’s ability to persevere is the main reason why I went from being a Hillary hater to a Hillary lover. Wow, she is tough—and yes, she is flawed.

Our governmental institutions need men and women like Kennedy, Stevens, and Clinton. All of these people have huge flaws. There are reasons to hate any or all of them, to demand that they leave public life, to pine for new faces. Yet those new faces will be just as human as these three.

What delusion do we live under to think that anyone is above the flaws of being human?