Tag Archives: Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy’s Letter to President Obama

In my anger over GOP Congressman Joe “You Lie” Wilson of South Carolina  and the heckling Republicans, I didn’t get to spend as much time focusing tonight on the highlight of President Obama’s speech tonight.

For me the most newsworthy event wasn’t these fools, but rather the brief mention by President Obama of a letter he received from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Sen. Kennedy wrote the letter shortly before he died and asked that it be shared with the President after his death.

Here’s the letter in its entirety:

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat – that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,

Ted

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Matthew 25: Why I am a Democrat

ted_kennedy2I’m sitting here watching the funeral mass for Sen. Ted Kennedy and I am crying as the priest reads from Matthew 25.

In short, this passage from the New Testament is why I am a Democrat. I realize not everyone is Christian or religious or spiritual, but this passage transcends faith in my view. It really gets at the heart of the human condition and what it means to me to be Christian (and for me, what it means to be a Democrat).

In it, the Gospel author relays three parables told by Jesus. (For those not familiar, parables were the stories Jesus told to make a larger spiritual point.) Each story builds on the next, but in summary, Jesus is trying to tell us that we have a responsibility to make the world a better place for those less fortunate than ourselves. Christians call this building the Kingdom of God here on earth. Democrats call this helping the little guy. Continue reading

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Universal Health Care: The Cause of Ted Kennedy’s Life

Last night, the most influential Senator of my lifetime died. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) was 77. His hands were on hundreds of laws, most importantly civil rights, education and health care.

Kennedy believed in social justice — his faith informed his politics. Despite being reviled by the grassroots of the right wing, he was beloved by some of the right wing elected officials of the GOP. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the conservative Republican of Utah was his best friend in the Senate.

Earlier this month, Sen. Kennedy, as he lay dying, penned this article for Newsweek where he called universal health care the “cause of my life”. (I also think it’s worth reading the statement he issued when the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee pass the health care bill earlier this summer.)

I don’t know if the Congress will pass health care reform or not. But I do know that Sen. Kennedy inspired a legion of Americans who will continue to fight for universal health care.

Don’t you worry, Sen. Kennedy, the dream will never die.

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Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Statement on Health Care Reform

ted_kennedy2Yesterday the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee voted to pass Affordable Health Choices Act. It’s an historic moment in the history of the U.S. Senate and in the career of the chairman of the committee, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass).  Following the committee’s vote on the legislation, which included 160 of the 200 amendments offered by the GOP members of the committee, Chairman Kennedy issued the following statement from his home in Massachusetts where he is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor:

“This room is a special place. In this room, my two brothers declared their candidacy for the presidency. Today, the nation takes another major step toward reaching the goals to which they dedicated their careers, and for which they gave their lives. They strived, as I have tried to do, for a fairer and more just America – a nation where every American could share fully in the promise of quality health care.

As you vote today, know that I am with you in heart and mind and soul, and I wish very much that I could be with you in person.

I could not be prouder of our committee. We have done the hard work that the American people sent us here to do. We have considered hundreds of proposals. Where we have been able to reach principled compromise, we have done so. Where we have not been able to resolve our differences, we have treated those with whom we disagree with respect and patience. I thank all the members of our committee – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike – for their dedication and devotion to the great cause of quality, affordable health care for all our people.

Extraordinary thanks go to Chris Dodd. No man has ever had a truer or more generous friend than he has been to me, and no cause has ever had a more able leader than he has been in the great effort to enact health reform.

It is a cause that knows no boundary of party, region, or philosophy. It is a cause that can and should unite us all as Americans. We know, however, that our work is not over – far from it. As we move from our committee room to the Senate floor, we must continue the search for solutions that unite us, so that the great promise of quality affordable health care for all can be fulfilled.

As I said, this room is a special place – and I believe our committee’s actions have added a glorious chapter to the honor roll of history that has been made here.

Americans are an extraordinary people. We have created a nation of liberty and justice. We have defeated forces of oppression, and we have spread prosperity and progress across the globe. When the American people are on the march, there is no barrier that can resist them, no obstacle that can block their path.

The American people are on the march once more, and they will not stop until quality, affordable health care is the birthright of every American. And we are with them every step of the way.”

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