>In the olden days, like last year, I used to find out what had happened overnight by firing up the BBC website while I had my morning cup of Earl Grey. It something major had happened, my husband would usually wake me up to tell me before he left for work.
Now I have my Blackberry, which I am still insanely in love with, and it was from it on my friend Andrew Jolly’s Facebook page that I saw “Ted Kennedy RIP” at just after 6.30 am today.
We all knew that this day would inevitably come – and in some ways thought it would be much sooner after he took ill at Obama’s inauguration in January signalling a return of his Brain Cancer.
I first came across him in 1980, when I was 12 and he was running against Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination. At that point, I didn’t like him very much, thinking that Carter was a good man and that Democrats should be working together against what I saw as the very frightening prospect of Ronald Reagan. I still wonder if he’d waited for a more tolerant time to run for President if we’d have been spared the 8 years of Dubya and would perhaps now be entering a period of Clinton presidency, Bill or Hillary, who knows?
Yes, he was flawed, yes, he behaved badly after that awful accident at Chappaquiddick, but, to be honest, I prefer my politicians to have faults and to be human, a bit like me. I don’t like antiseptic, synthetic Stepford children, I admire and respect real people.
The fact that he was able to make such a mark in the Senate, earning almost universal respect, even from the most rabid of Republicans, showed just how good he was as a politician and legislator. Despite his financially privileged background, he was passionate on healthcare reform and continued to work to further Obama’s cause until the last possible moment.
I know that some people still feel very strongly about the American connections with the IRA and Sinn Fein, but as peace became a possibility, Kennedy’s influence on the likes of Gerry Adams was extremely helpful, his snub to them giving them a shove in the direction of the negotiating table.
He died exactly a year after this tribute was shown at the Democratic Convention before his emotional speech in support of Obama.
We’ve lost a true genuine liberal here but his legacy will live on through the real difference he has made to people’s lives – on healthcare, minimum wage, human rights, peace across the globe to name just a few things.