Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy passed away on August 25, 2009 from a brain tumor. He had served almost 47 years in the United States Senate from Massachusetts and has often been called "the Lion of the Senate". Kennedy was a master legislator. He was able to reach across the isle to Republicans, even though he was known as one of the most liberal members of the Senate. Ted was a very close friend to Repulican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. Education was one issue dear to the heart of Senator Kennedy and he was able to get together with President George W. Bush to pass the No Child Left Behind Act. Sadly, however, said legislation has basically been deemed a failure by most experts, if in part because the Federal Government failed to fully fund the Act. While Kennedy's life-long political goal of pushing for national health insurance was never realized, he did live to see President Obama push for an expansion in aceess to health insurance. However, Kennedy died before the legislation was passed in 2010.
Ted Kennedy had more hardships to bear in this life than the vast majority of his us. He lost two brothers to assassinations. He almost died in a plane crash. While he survived, he was left with considerable pain for the rest of his life. He was in a tragic car accident in 1969 which resulted in the death of a young woman who was with him at the time, Mary Jo Kopechne. He lost a close race for the Democratic Presidential nomination to JimmyCarter in 1980. He lost his nephew, John Kennedy, Jr, to a tragic plane wreck in July of 1999. The list of Kennedy's hardships is almost endless.
Kennedy's first marriage to Joan Bennett failed. They were married from 1958-1982. However, he was able to receive an annullment from the Catholic Church and he later re-married. By all accounts his second marriage to Victoria Reggie in 1992 was a success.
Many political experts blame Kenndy's close 1980 Democratic Presidential nomination loss to incumbent Jimmy Carter to residual negtive feelings from the 1969 Chappaquiddick car wreck which caused the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. However, this political obsever doubts the validity of said thesis. Rather, it is quite possible that the 1980 race was decided by unpopular Independent Democrat Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne announcing her support for Kennedy. This was countered by most of her regular organization Democrat opponents in the city council announcing support for President Carter. So what you had, in effect, was the Presidential race in Illinois becoming a proxy for a contest of popularity between two different Democratic factions in Chicago. Unfortunately for Kennedy, his supporter, Mayor Byrne, was on the losing side in terms of popularity and this probably hurt Kennedy in the Illinois Primary. As it turned out, the race for the 1980 nomination was quite close and Kennedy's momentum came mostly at the end of the campaign. If he had won the IL Primary or had come extremely close there, instead of losing it by a significant margin, the end result might well have been different. He might well have become the Democratic nomninee in 1980, if only Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne had not endorsed him. However, this is all sepcualtion and we will never know for certain if Kennedy could have defeated Carter for the nomination. One problem Kennedy had was his original television interview with CBS's Roger Mudd when he first announced. He failed to give a compelling argument in that interview for why he was running and why he should receive the nomination. This definitely cost him much needed momentum at the start of the campaign.
However, regardless of the fact that he never became President, Kennedy's place in American Political History is secure by his long and successful Senate career. Finally, his early endorsement of Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Primary Campaign against Hillary Clinton, may have been the pivotal factor in giving Obama enough momentum to carry him over the finish line, in what turned out to be a very close race for the nomination.
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