Let's just get this right:
Do you like your state and not the federal government controlling the curriculum of your kids' schools? Thank Ted Kennedy.
Do you like being able to vote starting at age 18? Thank Ted Kennedy.
Do you think low-income people should get help with heating their homes in the winter? Thank the man.
Do you think the federal government should fund cancer research? Yep.
Do you believe that Meals on Wheels is a good thing? Ditto.
Does your daughter (or you, if you're female) like playing soccer or basketball or softball at school? That'd be because of Ted Kennedy.
Do you think that disabled people should be able to go to school? Have access to buildings? Not be discriminated against for housing and loads of other things? Kennedy, big time.
You like your cheap airfares? You know the answer.
You think people on welfare oughta get jobs? So did Kennedy.
You think mental institutions should treat people humanely? Yeah, so did your new friend, Ted Kennedy.
You believe that the Defense Department should provide child care for the kids of soldiers? Kennedy did.
You think a woman shouldn't lose her job if she gets pregnant? You think 100,000 more cops on the street's a good idea? You think poor kids should have health care? You think soldiers in Iraq should have the proper armor? Just tick those things off the list. Some of them would have been accomplished without him; many would not have been.
You agreed with Ted Kennedy far, far more than you want to think you did, dear conservatives. Still, go ahead and dance your mad jigs on his still-warm corpse. Why not? We on the left certainly did when Jerry Falwell, Strom Thurmond, and Jesse Helms kicked. Hell, one asshole blogger even celebrated the death of Ann Coulter's father. But know that you dance in ignorance. Ask Orrin Hatch.
But, of course, you want to address the far more pressing issue of whether or not Ted Kennedy killed Mary Jo Kopechne back at Chappaquiddick all those decades ago, no matter what the investigations said. There's only a couple of things to say about that: The glib response is, "Yeah, and Thomas Jefferson nailed his slaves. What's your point?" More directly, Kennedy asked the people of Massachusetts if they wanted him to quit. They did not. The rest of the nation may have not wanted him as president, but for Massachusetts, Chappaquiddick quickly became a settled issue and distant history. That's all that mattered to keep him in the Senate, just like Louisiana will have to judge whether or not a prostitute-lovin' David Vitter should go back. That's democracy, gang, like it or not.
And Ted Kennedy did more for real, actual democracy than almost anyone else in our entire history as a nation.
More on that tomorrow in a real tribute.
(By the way, perhaps we now know why Barack Obama was trying to get health care reform done quickly.)