Ted Kennedy: Health Care “Has Been The Passion Of My Life”

Ted Kennedy, the lion of the Senate, has passed.

His legacy of political achievement is long: his constant and continuing fight (YouTube) for the child health insurance program (CHIP), support and legal equality for Americans with disabilities, reforms of mental health programs, national community service, the voting rights act, substantial work for years on civil rights and civil liberties (YouTube) concerns.

His was consistently a fight for the little guy.

But his passion, the one that has not yet been achieved, has been quality health care for all, not just the privileged few.

In the video above, Sen. Kennedy speaks in Montgomery County, PA, about his motivation on health care: watching families in the pediatric cancer ward give up everything they had worked so hard for their entire lives to desperately try to save their children, the same way he and his family were trying to save their own. Except that he had excellent health insurance, and the difference it made was substantial.

Imagine facing the fear that you could lose your child and trying to deal with that?  Now imagine adding the fear that you might have to lose  everything, including that child’s home and place of comfort, to do so at the same time?

Sen. Kennedy wrote a piece for Newsweek last year regarding his passionate work on health care, and the motivations for it. It is a fitting tribute to him that those words resonate just as strongly today:

. . .quality care shouldn’t depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it’s always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.

Whatever health care bill comes through the legislative process, if there is any care or concern for the public at large in the bill, it will have been due — in large measure — to the constant fight from Ted Kennedy.

This is a great loss indeed.


 
69 Responses to "Ted Kennedy: Health Care “Has Been The Passion Of My Life”"
Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 05:09 am 1

Morning all. Sad news indeed…not unexpected, but sad nonetheless.


Ruth Calvo | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:03 am 2

A proper tribute to him would be devoting renewed energy to the effort to bring health care to everyone.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:06 am 3
In response to Ruth Calvo @ 2

I would hope that folks on the Hill would recognize that and then do it. But I fear there will be an effort to slap his name on a watered-down bill…and that will become his legacy.

That would be a horrible, horrible travesty.


ghostof911 | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:06 am 4
In response to Ruth Calvo @ 2

If his ghost is given freedom, it will certainly be working to do that.


puravida | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:08 am 5

Thank you, Senator Kennedy, for showing us that we can have the courage of our convictions.

I rarely link to the WaPo anymore, but this little nugget caught my eye this morning. Jim Moran (my rep) and Dr. Dean throw Randall Terry out of their health care town hall:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..eheadlines


barbara | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:09 am 6

Thanks for this, Christy. This Paul Wellstone MN Dem finds this immensely sad. Please, please, please, let there be someone in the Senate who will help us stay strong, focused, principled. Someone . . . . .


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:11 am 7
In response to ghostof911 @ 4

When you read through the article he wrote for Newsweek on health care, you get the sense that nothing would stop him from pushing on this issue. It’s an incredibly passionate and heartfelt plea. I just don’t know how many on Congress are capable of hearing that above the “cha-ching” of donor cash these days…


tw3k | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:11 am 8

RRRAAAWWW!!!111 the Lion Roars!


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:12 am 9
In response to puravida @ 5

Pretty sure Jane was there, so we may get a birds-eye report on that. *g*


Ruth Calvo | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:12 am 10
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 3

I don’t usually hope you’re wrong, but this time, I do.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:16 am 11
In response to barbara @ 6

Sen. Kennedy had any number of faults through the years on a personal level, but his legislative achievements were amazing.

I remember hearing a story about Orrin Hatch’s initial election to the Senate. He had run a campaign basically portraying himself as the antidote to Kennedy’s liberalism — because Hatch objected to a lot of Kennedy’s program and government involvement ideas. When he was elected, the first thing that Kennedy did was make it a point to involve Hatch in discussions on things and pursue his support for a particular bill (don’t remember which without re-researching it) and the next thing Hatch knew, he was working with Kennedy on the bill.

They became very close friends and worked together a lot through the years. Hatch has said many times that Kennedy’s greatest gift was his ability to persuade across the aisle people who would never even consider a liberal proposal in human, real life terms so that even conservatives couldn’t object to the underlying need. Would that more Democratic Senators possessed that gift. He will be sorely, sorely missed.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:17 am 12
In response to Ruth Calvo @ 10

I hope I am wrong, too — but the cynic in my gut is saying otherwise. But until there is drying ink on the bill, there is still hope for something better, eh?


barbara | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:21 am 13

“…there is still hope for something better…”

I think we all need to tattoo this inside our eyelids. It is bedrock and fuels our efforts moving forward.


Kassandra | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:22 am 14

Oh Teddy! How I will miss you!
You and your brothers were there in some of the most pivotal moments of my life.
The last statesman, folks.


SueTheRedWA | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:24 am 15

While growing up, like most Irish Catholic families from Boston, we had a JFK picture in the house. Ted’s death is quite the loss. When the Democrats push through a real health care reform bill, they should call it the Ted Kennedy Health Care bill.

By the way, the Spokesman-Review reported that when Walt Minnick, D-ID, mentioned at his town hall meeting (Northern Idaho) last night, that Medicare and Medicaid were well-run government programs, he was booed. If someone can get images of that, it should be shown everywhere, so that the elderly realize that Republicans are not their true friends and are only using them to stop health care reform.

Just checking the blogs before taking off for the day.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:24 am 16
In response to barbara @ 13

It ain’t over until the presidential signature is affixed. And even then? It ain’t over, because amendments and changes can always be passed down the road in a lot of cases.

To quote from Sen. Kennedy’s 1980 Democratic Convention speech:

“…Our cause has been, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the common man and the common woman.

Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called “the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics, and laborers.” On this foundation we have defined our values, refined our policies, and refreshed our faith….

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”


CTuttle | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:26 am 17

Christy, Juan Cole brings up another fearless episode in Teddy’s tireless efforts on the floor of the Senate…

…Here is a speech, delivered less than 9 months after the invasion of Iraq, in which Kennedy correctly lays out the ways in which Bush conned the country into it:

Senator Ted Kennedy, Speech on Iraq Policy, C-Span: Broadcast 01/14/04

I remember it well… Quite the read still…!


SouthernDragon | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:26 am 18

RIP Teddy. We will really miss you.

Off to swim in the great capitalist cesspool.

US KIA Irak: 4334

US KIA Afghanistan: 802

Be good to yourselves, and all other living things.

Namaste


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:26 am 19
In response to SueTheRedWA @ 15

Lots of folks here in WV still have pictures of JFK in their houses. The Kennedys have been a part of my political raising since I was tiny. It is amazing how one family has woven itself so tightly into the national fabric, isn’t it?


billybugs | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:27 am 20

I am proud to have been able to call Teddy My Senator
You surley wiil be missed


puravida | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:28 am 21
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 9

Yeah, I wish I’d been there, too. If only to see Jane. *g*


SanderO | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:29 am 22

What a quote… thanks for that Christy.


AZ Matt | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:30 am 23

He is with his Big Brothers and Sisters now.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:33 am 24
In response to SanderO @ 22

That whole speech was amazingly crafted. I can remember watching it live as a kid. (Yep, I’ve always been a politics junkie. *g*)


perris | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:33 am 25

words….fail…tears


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:34 am 26

btw, gang, do take the time to watch the YouTube above — it’s incredibly heartfelt and poignant, especially watching it now.


cosanostradamus | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:34 am 27

.
Chappaquiddick?Chappaquiddick. Chappaquiddick!

You can hear the conservatard pundits warming up in the bullsh*tpen.

This is their chance to set the healthcare clock back forty years.

Thanks for trying, anyway, Teddy. May you be in Heaven half an hour before Hannity knows you’re dead.
.


alank | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:37 am 28

I’m sorry, but Kennedy’s committee, ably managed by Dodd during Kennedy’s illness as it was, was not part of the Gang of Six appointed by the White House to operate in secret to deliver the goods to the Biomedical Establishment™.


perris | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:37 am 29

before I retire from this threa which tears my heart too much to remain, I’ll tell of this;

whenever I found ted was going to speak I waited like a child to hear from him information I had not known, with his method that would carve it’s path to my heart.

peace


bobpine | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:39 am 30

May you rest in peace,Senator.

All I can say to everyone else is,In this day and time.Do not get sick or hurt.


RevDeb | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:41 am 31
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 3

It’s what they did with NCLB. He worked hard for education for kids and they turned it into a travesty.

I’m thinking we need to figure out who in congress owed chits big time to Teddy and as citizens, call them in on behalf of health care and the robust PO. We’ve got the talent here to chase those down.


Bluetoe2 | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:42 am 32

A great loss indeed to the American people and the end of an era. Condolences to the Kennedy family. The torch has been passed.


RevDeb | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:44 am 33

To quote from Sen. Kennedy’s 1980 Democratic Convention speech:

“…Our cause has been, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the common man and the common woman.

Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called “the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics, and laborers.” On this foundation we have defined our values, refined our policies, and refreshed our faith….

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

This really is what it was all about for him.

Wondering if anyone else in that esteemed club gets this and is willing to carry on.


perris | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:44 am 34

before I go I’d like to let everyone know, it seems as if heads of state from around the world are reacting to our senators death as if he himself were a head of state

it seems a fair tribute doesn’t it

World leaders have rushed to pay tribute to Kennedy.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:45 am 35
In response to RevDeb @ 31

I have heard, but not confirmed, that the last few weeks Teddy and his family had been calling some of those folks and reminding them of promises and debts owed.


citizensue | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:45 am 36
In response to cosanostradamus @ 27

Yea, the ray bastards will try everything. Soulless monsters all. Remember, they can only win if we lay down. in the last couple of weeks we have only shown the tip of the iceberg of our strength. now we OWE it to Teddy to get this done. To hell with what the Republican bastards say. We out number them.


citizensue | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:46 am 37

Sorry, thats RAT BASTARDS- little worked up here.


Bluetoe2 | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:49 am 38

Those left behind in the Senate seem so very very small next to a Ted Kennedy.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:50 am 39
In response to RevDeb @ 33

I do wonder who will step up to the plate and speak to those concerns with a real, heartfelt commitment. We need someone to be that voice on the public stage. The question is who has the courage to be that voice?


Prairie Sunshine | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:52 am 40

This weekend is a healthcare reform rally in Fargo. There’s an organization of madashelldoctors starting on a cross-country trek from Oregon to D.C. More rallies upcoming. Small business owners in Maine confronting Snowe about healthcare.

The people are rousing. Now, a fresh rallying cry: Do it for Teddy.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:52 am 41
In response to Bluetoe2 @ 38

His truly was an amazing Senate legacy in terms of legislation and his ability to speak up for the little guy when that voice was most needed through the years. When you look through his legislative record, it’s truly astonishing how much he accomplished. So few ever step up like that…


citizensue | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:53 am 42

Truly the saddest comment so far. Where is the future Lion of our Senate leadership? Is there anyone worthy of the mantle?


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:55 am 43

Good lord, President Obama has to start his statement soon. If I have to listen to the MSNBC pundits bloviate any longer, my ears are going to start bleeding…


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:56 am 44
In response to citizensue @ 42

It is a sad statement, isn’t it? SIGH


GregB | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:58 am 45

Amen for Senator Ted. As the tributes pour in, we’ll hear over and over again the successes he championed all these years. People will be hearing about the positive things that government can do. It’ll be Ted’s last gift to us, sucking the oxygen from the incessant news coverage of the gun toting tea-baggers this last week of summer.

-G


foothillsmike | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:58 am 46
In response to Prairie Sunshine @ 40

Health Insurance Reform Bus Tour Rally here in Denver this Friday.

P.S. Prairie My son is now a ND resident


oldgold | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:59 am 47

You know, I don’t think even the Bard of Avon could have done justice to the life Ted Kennedy lived.

When you stop and think of all the iconic folks in his family, the amazing triumphs, the crushing tragedies, the great accomplishments and the sad personal failings it is almost unbelievable.

What a life!


Millineryman | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:03 am 48

It would be a travesty to see Kennedy’s name attached to a really bad health care bill after all the great legislation he’s been responsible for. Also with the total lack of human decency of fringe fanatics who run the Republican party, it would be an equal travesty to watch them drag his name through their slime in their political posturing.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:06 am 49
In response to GregB @ 45

Absolutely. Would that so many other democrats would pay attention and start living up to his legacy rather than trying to hide from their own.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:08 am 50
In response to oldgold @ 47

It is an amazing history — both in lows and highs. I cannot imagine surviving so many of the things he has had to face, some horribly of his own making, through the years and still accomplishing this much. It is truly a testament to the human spirit, to overcoming whatever adversity hurdle is placed in your path, surmounting it and then to keep on going.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:08 am 51
In response to Millineryman @ 48

I would like to hope that none of that will happen. But my gut tells me we are in for a fight to keep it from occurring.


Gitcheegumee | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:09 am 52

Aside from his family, surely no one in the Senate will feel the loss of Ted Kennedy any more deeply than Senator Byrd of West Virginia.

Does anyone recall Byrd’s tearful speech on the Senate floor last fall when it was announced that Kennedy had brain cancer?That was a heartbreaker,for sure.

I fear that he will be the next one we will lose.


citizensue | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:10 am 53

You can count on them to do the morally wrong thing. That’s what vampires do.


RevDeb | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:12 am 54

Wish we had that list so we could keep up the pressure. That would be a worthwhile pursuit!


citizensue | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:13 am 55

Notice how quickly they “burried” Novacula. They didn’t dare touch that did they?


RevDeb | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:14 am 56

We know Bernie Sanders does, but who listens to him? We hope that Al Franken will—can he step up before they infect him with bad juju?

Howard Dean would have done so had he been elected to something on the natl. level and did when he was chair of the DNC. We need to get him officially back in a prominent office I think.


Diane | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:20 am 57
In response to puravida @ 5

Watched that town hall on Cspan last night, you can probably pull it up in the archives. Great moment – he even offered Terry the first question if he would stop shouting and let the meeting proceed, but to no avail – the cops escorted him out.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:23 am 58
In response to Diane @ 57

Yup — no agenda there. Nope. Totally interested in the conversation and not being a disruptive ass. *g*


Millineryman | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:28 am 59

Same here, all though the idealist in me hopes that this wake up Obama to the legacy that he has the duty to fufil. It’s like a myth with the storied Kennedy legacy passed to Obama before the election, and now in the midst of a epic battle, the elder leader passes on, leaving the younger protege a choice to fight tfor the legagcy, or to just go about and take the easier way out.


Diane | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:31 am 60

I’ve watched several town halls on CSpan, so there is much more context than the few clips we see on the cable. Seems to me much of the disruptions have absolutely nothing to do with the healthcare debate, they are simply intended to destroy the process with abstract paranoid chatter – but the media seems to ignore the fact that these folks have no foothold in reality & just focus on the controversy.


Christy Hardin Smith | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:33 am 61
In response to Diane @ 60

Controversy means ratings. ‘nough said.


cbl2 | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:36 am 62

agreeing with RevDeb – Senator Sanders is the guy. he isn’t there to do the caucus bidding, or 6 years of posturing to get re elected. his actions, his consistent actions reflect service dedicated to one thing and one thing only – making life better for his fellow citizens.

time will tell us something about Al Franken’s moral and political courage – I have a tough time imagining him campaigning for Lieberman just because some higher up tells him to.

Christy, I did not know about Sherrod Brown’s refusal to accept Congr. healthcare – the fact that he isn’t running around touting the fact speaks volumes. I mentioned yesterday that he has recently displayed some very Teddy-like fire and passion – authentic outrage ’bout all us have-nots out here

and there is Feingold and Whitehouse – ethics and speaking truth to power -but sadly in a different environment than the one in which Teddy came up – we will have to thank God we had him and cultivate his influence when we see it


PattySoandSo | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:36 am 63

And when they built you brother, they broke the mold…” —

Bruce Springsteen
Terry’s Song


Diane | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:47 am 64

I have been very cynical about the chances of real reform. I have seen up close in our practice the results of scare tactics being promoted. Both myself and the doc I work for have been encouraging our elderly patients that adding a public option will only benefit our community since it has been hit hard with the loss of furniture and textile jobs.

So my sorrow for the loss of Ted Kennedy in this debate is now filled with the hope that his spirit will fill our Congress and President with the resolve to win this battle.


MrWhy | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:48 am 65

fifteen times … I have fought on the floor of the U.S. Senate that we ought to have universal, comprehensive coverage


laminatorss | Wednesday August 26, 2009 07:57 am 66

Going to miss his dedication and spirit.


cosanostradamus | Wednesday August 26, 2009 08:09 am 67
In response to citizensue @ 36

@citizensue | Wednesday August 26, 2009 06:45 am 36
In response to cosanostradamus @ 27 (show text)

‘ Yea, the rat bastards will try everything. Soulless monsters all. Remember, they can only win if we lay down. in the last couple of weeks we have only shown the tip of the iceberg of our strength. now we OWE it to Teddy to get this done. To hell with what the Republican bastards say. We out number them. ‘

Stay angry, but channel it. We’re the majority. We just need to keep reminding those parasites in Congress.
.


Leen | Wednesday August 26, 2009 08:51 am 68

Spencer has a great post up about Ted and torture
http://attackerman.firedoglake…..ment-12875


tejanarusa | Wednesday August 26, 2009 10:18 am 69

What RevDeb said – this should be our cue to press the Pres on doing health care the right way for Sen. Kennedy.


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