Thank you, Senator Kennedy. (UPDATED Several Times)

Family Statement (via Sen. Kennedy's Website):

“Edward M. Kennedy—the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply—died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”

The Accomplishments of Senator Edward M. Kennedy 1962-2009

President Barack Obama's Statement first thing this morning:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

President Barack Obama's News Conference:

Over the past several years, I've had the honor to call Teddy a colleague, a counselor, and a friend. And even though we have known this day was coming for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread.

Since Teddy's diagnosis last year, we've seen the courage with which he battled his illness. And while these months have no doubt been difficult for him, they've also let him hear from people in every corner of our nation and from around the world just how much he meant to all of us. His fight has given us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you -- and goodbye.

The outpouring of love, gratitude, and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity, in families that know new opportunity, in children who know education's promise, and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just -- including myself.

The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party. And at times, Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth, and good cheer. He could passionately battle others and do so peerlessly on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintain warm friendships across party lines.

And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

His extraordinary life on this earth has come to an end. And the extraordinary good that he did lives on. For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was the defender of a dream.

I spoke earlier this morning to Senator Kennedy's beloved wife, Vicki, who was to the end such a wonderful source of encouragement and strength. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, his children Kara, Edward, and Patrick; his stepchildren Curran and Caroline; the entire Kennedy family; decades' worth of his staff; the people of Massachusetts; and all Americans who, like us, loved Ted Kennedy.

Vice President Biden's Press Conference:
Nancy Reagan Statement on Senator Kennedy
"I was terribly saddened to hear of the death of Ted Kennedy tonight. Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. But Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him."
Nancy Pelosi Statement on Senator Kennedy
Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today on the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy:

"Today, with the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the American people have lost a great patriot, and the Kennedy family has lost a beloved patriarch. Over a lifetime of leadership, Senator Kennedy’s statesmanship and political prowess produced a wealth of accomplishment that has improved opportunity for every American.

Senator Kennedy had a grand vision for America, and an unparalleled ability to effect change. Rooted in his deep patriotism, his abiding faith, and his deep concern for the least among us, no one has done more than Senator Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors, and ensure equality for all Americans.

Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration.

Sadly, Senator Kennedy left us exactly one year after he inspired the nation with his speech of optimism, vitality, and courage at the Convention in Denver.

On behalf of all Members of Congress, and personally on behalf of my family, today and in the days ahead, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family, especially with Senator Kennedy’s devoted wife Vicki, and with Kara, Teddy Jr., and our colleague Patrick, who made their father so proud. I hope it is a comfort to them that our nation and the world mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time."
Harry Reid Statement on Senator Kennedy
Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today… “The Kennedy family and the Senate family have together lost our patriarch. My thoughts, and those of the entire United States Senate, are with Vicki, Senator Kennedy’s children, his many nieces and nephews, and his entire family. “It was the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy. He was a friend, the model of public service and an American icon.

"As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so dutifully dedicated his life. Senator Kennedy’s legacy stands with the greatest, the most devoted, the most patriotic men and women to ever serve in these halls. Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country.

Ted Kennedy’s America was one in which all could pursue justice, enjoy equality and know freedom. Ted Kennedy’s life was driven by his love of a family that loved him, and his belief in a country that believed in him. Ted Kennedy’s dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize.

The liberal lion’s mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."

Robert Byrd Statement on Senator Kennedy:

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the only senator to have served longer than the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), mourned his friend Wednesday, saying his "heart and soul weeps."

Byrd said he hoped healthcare reform legislation in the Senate would be renamed in memoriam of Kennedy.

"I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come," Byrd said in a statement. "My heart and soul weeps at the lost of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy."

Byrd's wistful statement focused on the work accomplished with Kennedy during decades together in the Senate, and called on the healthcare bill before Congress to be renamed in honor of Kennedy.

"In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American," Byrd said.

Here was Senator Byrd in May 2008, Byrd just after Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer (via Think Progress):
Orrin Hatch Statement on Senator Kennedy
"Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend. Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence cannot be overstated. Many have come before, and many will come after, but Ted Kennedy's name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber."
2008 Democratic National Convention Tribute to Senator Kennedy:

Kennedy's best speeches (via MSNBC):

The following Statements come via HuffPo:

Senator John Kerry's Initial Statement (there's a more complete statement below which he released later in the day):

No words can ever do justice to this irrepressible, larger than life presence who was simply the best -- the best senator, the best advocate you could ever hope for, the best colleague and the best person to stand by your side in the toughest of times.

Senator Chris Dodd

"I'm not sure America has ever had a greater Senator, but I know for certain that no one has had a greater friend than I and so many others did in Ted Kennedy.

"I will always remember Teddy as the ultimate example for all of us who seek to serve, a hero for those Americans in the shadow of life who so desperately needed one.

"He worked tirelessly to lift Americans out of poverty, advance the cause of civil rights, and provide opportunity to all. He fought to the very end for the cause of his life - ensuring that all Americans have the health care they need.

"The commitment to build a stronger and fairer America, a more perfect union, was deeply ingrained in the fiber of who he was, and what he believed in, and why he served.

"That's why he stands among the most respected Senators in history. But it was his sympathetic ear, his razor wit, and his booming, raucous laugh that made him among the most beloved.

"Whatever tragedy befell Teddy's family, he would always be there for them. Whatever tragedy befell the family of one of his friends, he would always be there for us. And in this moment of profound grief, our hearts are with his wonderful wife Vicki, his fantastic kids Ted Jr., Patrick, Kara, Curran, and Caroline, his grandchildren, and the wide and wonderful extended family for whom he was always a safe harbor.

"I will miss him every day I serve, and every day I live."

Former President Jimmy Carter

Sen. Kennedy was a passionate voice for the citizens of Massachusetts and an unwavering advocate for the millions of less fortunate in our country. The courage and dignity he exhibited in his fight with cancer was surpassed only by his lifelong commitment and service to his country.

Former President George H.W. Bush:

While we didn't see eye-to-eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service - so much so, in fact, that I invited him to my library in 2003 to receive the Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States Senate - a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body's history.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

Senator Edward Kennedy will be mourned not just in America but in every continent. He is admired around the world as the Senator of Senators. He led the world in championing children's education and health care, and believed that every single child should have the chance to realise their potential to the full.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy was not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy. Over the past half-century, nearly every major piece of legislation that has advanced the civil rights, health, and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts. With his passing, an important chapter in our American story has come to an end.
As a mark of respect for the memory of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on August 30, 2009. I also direct that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of his interment. I further direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same periods at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.


Kennedy to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery (via HuffPo):

WASHINGTON — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy will lie in repose Thursday and Friday at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston before his funeral at a city church, the senator's office said.

Kennedy is to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near his slain brothers, said Kennedy spokesman Keith Maley.


Kennedy, who served in the Senate for nearly half a century, will then be laid to rest near his brothers, former President John F. Kennedy and former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, on the famous Virginia hillside that serves as the burial sites of others from the storied clan, including former first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because arrangements were still being made.


Kennedy is eligible for burial at Arlington by virtue of his service in Congress as well as his two years in the Army, 1951 to 1953. He was a private first class and served in the military police at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, then located in Paris and now in Belgium.

read full details...

Kennedy Successor To Be Chosen By Special Election (also via HuffPo):

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Wednesday he would support changing state law to allow him to appoint an interim successor to Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat while a special election is held.

Unlike most states, a successor to a vacant U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts is chosen by special election, not appointed by the governor.

In a recent letter to lawmakers, Kennedy, who died Tuesday night, said the law should be changed to allow the governor to appoint someone to serve in the Senate during the course of the election – provided that person pledge not to run for the seat.

In radio interviews Wednesday morning, Patrick called the idea "entirely reasonable" and told WBUR-FM that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.

"Massachusetts needs two voices" in the Senate, Patrick said.

Although Massachusetts is dominated by Democrats, a change in the law isn't a sure thing.

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, both Democrats, issued statements of condolence early Wednesday, but neither has expressed support for giving the governor the power to name an interim successor. Republicans in both chambers, who hold about 10 percent of legislative seats in Massachusetts, oppose the idea.

read more....

UPDATE - Massachusetts Democrats are working to fulfill Senator Kennedy's last wish (h/t TomP):

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo has given his behind-closed-doors blessing to an effort to hand Gov. Deval Patrick the power to appoint a temporary successor to U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, sources say.

Elections Law committee co-chair Sen. Tom Kennedy (D-Brockton) said he and House co-chair Michael J. Moran (D-Boston) may bump up a hearing date for a bill that would give temporary appointing power to Patrick to Sept. 17.

"(The bill) was originally grouped in with the October hearing, but we’re trying to take into consideration the interest of the legislators," said Kennedy.

Rep. Robert M. Koczera (D-New Bedford), who filed the bill, spoke to Moran yesterday and said he received assurances that his bill would be heard before the original Oct. 7 hearing.

Successor plan gains steam

Senator John Kerry today released the following statement on the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy:

"We have known for some time that this day was coming, but nothing makes it easier. We have lost a great light in our lives and our politics, and it will never be the same again. Ted Kennedy was such an extraordinary force, yes for the issues he cared about, but more importantly for the humanity and caring in our politics that is at the center of faith and true public service.

"No words can ever do justice to this irrepressible, larger than life presence who was simply the best -- the best Senator, the best advocate you could ever hope for, the best colleague, and the best person to stand by your side in the toughest of times. He faced the last challenge of his life with the same grace, courage, and determination with which he fought for the causes and principles he held so dear. He taught us how to fight, how to laugh, how to treat each other, and how to turn idealism into action, and in these last fourteen months he taught us much more about how to live life, sailing into the wind one last time. For almost 25 years, I was privileged to serve as his colleague and share his friendship for which I will always be grateful.

"Teresa and I send all our love to Vicki, Teddy Jr., Patrick, Kara and their family, and to the entire Kennedy family for whom Teddy was always a rock at times like this. Massachusetts and our entire nation shares their loss and grieves with them."

Obama to deliver a eulogy at Kennedy funeral (via The Hill):

President Barack Obama will deliver a eulogy Saturday at the funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who will be buried later that day alongside his brothers at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Kennedy family announced his funeral will be held in Boston at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. Both the funeral and burial service will be closed to the public.

Kennedy will lie in repose this week at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Dorchester, Mass. A motorcade on Thursday will bring Kennedy’s body from Hyannis Port, Mass., to the library, which Sen. Kennedy helped build for his brother.


Obama signed a proclamation Wednesday that flags at the White House and all U.S. public buildings, grounds and military posts will fly at half-staff until sunset Sunday as an honor to Kennedy.

Democrats said Wednesday that the legendary senator’s passing is even more reason for them to pass healthcare reform in his honor, a point echoed by outside interest groups like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

In a sign of respect, some Republicans and opponents of the legislation took a break from the debate.

read more....
In a sign of respect, they should have put away their partisanship, thought of the American people for a change and worked in good faith to pass real health care reform already.

This is a great find by Greg Sargent over at Plum Line:
VIDEO: Ted Kennedy In 1971 Fighting For Health Care Reform — And Slamming Insurance Industry

Ted Kennedy has been fighting for health care reform for a very, very, very long time. A friend unearths some video of Kennedy arguing for a national health insurance system way back in 1971 — and slamming Richard Nixon’s just-introduced health care plan as a giveaway to the insurance companies.

As an added bonus, Kennedy is introduced by none other than Walter Cronkite, who also passed away recently, underscoring the degree to which an era has drawn to a close:

Kennedy appears about a minute and a half in, and slams Nixon’s plan by saying it will “provide billions of dollars to the health insurance companies.” His moral urgency about health care reform is already on display as he urges for a real “partnership between patients and doctors in this nation.”

The Kennedy alternative plan is described here as “cradle to grave Federal health insurance,” and was what we’d call “single payer today.”


Chris Dodd's Emotional Press Conference:

Then, of course, there's the fat, sweaty, addicted head of the Republican Party, Mr. Bouncy Bouncy:
Rush claims vindication in predicting health care legislation will be "called the Ted Kennedy memorial health care bill" (via Media Matters):

From the August 26 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show:

Or, this cretin from the bowls of Fox "news":
Sean Hannity Employee Calls Kennedy "Piece Of Garbage"

I wonder how Mr. Hannity, Premiere Radio Networks and ABC Radio/Citadel Broadcasting feel about his Facebook comment concerning Ted Kennedy's passing (emphasis added):

The irony is that the media is already positioning Ted as a champion for the little man against wealth and privilege. This piece of garbage was the poster child for wealth and privilege. Hopefully, this event will mark the end of this repugnant family and all the endless crap, entitlement, personal indulgences and collateral damage (Kopechne, Bessette, Bowman, Moxely, etc.).

Anyway, back to sanity....

Ted Kennedy's view on Health Care Reform, in his own words: ‘The Cause of My Life’:

In 1964, I was flying with several companions to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention when our small plane crashed and burned short of the runway. My friend and colleague in the Senate, Birch Bayh, risked his life to pull me from the wreckage. Our pilot, Edwin Zimny, and my administrative assistant, Ed Moss, didn't survive. With crushed vertebrae, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, I spent months in New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. To prevent paralysis, I was strapped into a special bed that immobilizes a patient between two canvas slings. Nurses would regularly turn me over so my lungs didn't fill with fluid. I knew the care was expensive, but I didn't have to worry about that. I needed the care and I got it.

Now I face another medical challenge. Last year, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center removed part of the tumor, and I had proton-beam radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital. I've undergone many rounds of chemotherapy and continue to receive treatment. Again, I have enjoyed the best medical care money (and a good insurance policy) can buy.

But 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.


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