Over the years, I came to see Sen. Kennedy not as a symbol, but as a fellow human being who did not get up each morning seeking ways to harm the country. I know of things he did for the poor and homeless on his own time and in his own way without a press release or a desire for public approval. I know of other hurts and concerns he shared with the very few he could trust about which I would never speak.
Because he came from wealth, he felt a responsibility to give back. We can argue whether government or individuals do that best, but we can't say that Ted Kennedy was inconsistent. He would compromise to advance his beliefs, not dilute them.
Ted once provided a blurb for a book I wrote. He said, "Cal Thomas usually says the far-right thing instead of the right thing, but I like reading him anyway."
With the passing of the last of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.'s sons goes the image of youth and "vigah," as Jack used to say in his Boston accent. I shall miss Ted Kennedy, not only because he was a worthy ideological rival, but also because with his passing, a part of my youth has gone with him.
Camelot, of course, was a myth, but what young person of that era cannot still hear the line uttered by Richard Burton from that lauded musical? It came at the end of the show as King Arthur surveys his broken kingdom and tells a young man of Camelot what might have been:
"Don't let it be forgot.
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."