In a rousing speech at American University, Ted told the crowd, of Obama, "Every time I've been asked over the past year who I would support in the Democratic primary, my answer has always been the same. I'll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes, and renew our beliefs that our country's best days are still to come. I found that candidate, and I think you have to."
Now President Barack Obama returned the compliment at the end of the day. "The Kennedy family, more than any other, has always stood for what's best about the Democratic Party, and about America," he said. "That each of us can make a difference and all of us ought to try." Ted Sorensen, John's speechwriter, points out that John Kennedy and Obama share an extraordinary number of similarities. Both went to Harvard, both rose to national attention almost overnight after appearances at the Democratic convention, both wrote best-selling political books and both had a youthful appeal that engaged record numbers of new voters and young voters. Most similar is the tenor of their speeches, which focus on the politics of hope rather than five-point programs or national malaise.
"I would not be sitting here as a presidential candidate had it not been for some of the battles that Ted Kennedy has fought," President Obama said in one of his campaign speeches. "I stand on his shoulders." In the final assessment, the last Kennedy brother, the one who was least likely to succeed, may have succeeded beyond any other. As the Kennedy family grieves the loss of their loved one, we as Americans grieve the loss of a "Lion."
Vincent Bzdek is a news editor and a features writer at The Washington Post and the author of the new book THE KENNEDY LEGACY: Jack, Bobby, and Ted, and a Family Dream Fulfilled.
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