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August 30th, 2009
02:51 PM ET

Ted Kennedy's Legacy: Losing and finding focus in Washington

Ted Kennedy:

Failed presidential hopeful.
Political icon.

Thomas Whalen is a historian at Boston University. He's the author of "a higher purpose: Profiles in presidential courage."

Professor Whalen joins CNN's Fredricka Whitfield to look at the failed presidential hopeful part of this and answer: What's the legacy of his bid against his own party's President, Jimmy Carter?

Filed under: Anchors • Fredricka Whitfield
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. puggles

    He was expected to seek the presidency – that was the legacy of the early cessation of JFK's presidency and not allowing RFK to fulfill that run. So, the political aspirations of their father, Joe Kennedy. Until he made the "committed" attempt, people would always expect that bid for the presidency.

    This failed bid allowed him to pursue his OWN dreams and goals and come into this own. This was Teddy finally "growing up." Or, a different metaphor, it was the forging of the Senator, tempering his steel.

    Could that forging of his mettle have occurred without a failed presidential run? Probably not. And, likely Teddy would not have run if he felt that Carter were an able CEO. Carter is better as a Board Member, a Consultant, that elder statesman, but he did not understand how the federal government really worked, especially the three branches really interacted.

    The more important question: can change really "only" come by incrementalism? If the medical care system were allowed to have the true fruits of capitalism, the inherent inequities: the lack of care for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the children, the unemployed and those who simply are not able to be gainfully employed, would there be a greater push for a single systemic change to come to terms with what would indeed be perceived as neglect (compare the FEMA response to Katrina.)

    August 30, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  2. Doris Sykes

    Just a Great Man, that love this country and his country men.
    Lost to your country.

    August 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  3. M.L. Graham

    Redemption is one of the most important things he should be remembered for and how it changed his life and those of his countrymen. He was a true patriot.

    August 31, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  4. Eddie

    I don't mourn his passing. His leaving the scene of the Chappaquidick accident shows how members of an elite class can get away with almost anything. If an ordinary citizen had done what he did, they would be locked up. Members of the elite political class continue to frustrate the correct execution of justice in this country.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:20 pm |