- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The passing of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has brought an outpouring of condolences from political leaders of every party and around the world.

“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,” President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, said early Wednesday morning.

Speaking later from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., where Mr. Obama is on a family vacation, he said Mr. Kennedy made America “more just, more equal.”

“His extraordinary life has come to an end,” said Mr. Obama, whose received a key endorsement from Mr. Kennedy during the 2008 presidential elections. “The extraordinary work he did lives on.”

Mr. Kennedy died Tuesday from brain cancer. He was 77.

The condolences highlight the passion Mr. Kennedy had for his political causes and his ability to work with Republicans.

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My friend, Ted Kennedy, was famous before he was accomplished,” said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and 2008 presidential candidate. “But by the end of his life he had become irreplaceable in the institution he loved and in the affections of its members. He grew up in the long shadow of his brothers, but found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments. Many of his fellow senators, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, will note today that Ted was sincerely intent on finding enough common ground among us to make progress on the issues of our day. … I will miss him very much.

Former President George H. W. Bush said he didn’t see eye to eye with Mr. Kennedy on many political issues through the years but he always respected his steadfast public service.

“Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the U.S. 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,” said Mr. Bush, a Republican.

In Britain and Ireland, Mr. Kennedy was remembered for his involvement in the long process that led to Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

“Even facing illness and death he never stopped fighting for the causes which were his life’s work,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “He led the world in championing children’s education and health care and believed that every single child should have the chance to realize their potential to the full.”

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called Mr. Kennedy “a true public servant committed to the values of fairness, justice and opportunity.”

Britain gave the Massachusetts senator an honorary knighthood earlier this year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said: “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.”

Nancy Reagan, the widow of former President Ronald Reagan, said she and her husband were close to Mr. Kennedy and his entire family despite political differences.

“Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another,” Mrs. Reagan said. “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.”

Mr. Reagan, a Republican, died in June 2004 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Among those closest to Mr. Kennedy who spoke Wednesday morning was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose wife, Maria Shriver, was Mr. Kennedy’s niece.

“He was known to the world as the Lion of the Senate, a champion of social justice, and a political icon,” he said. “Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican who came to politics after careers as a bodybuilder and actor, credited Mr. Kennedy with helping him in his current role.

“I have personally benefited and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well,” he said. “Teddy taught us all that public service isn’t a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life and his legacy will live on.”

A tearful Vice President Joe Biden recalled his long association with Mr. Kennedy, particularly in Congress, and the impact he had on people near and far.

“He made everybody he worked with bigger, his adversaries as well as his allies,” Mr. Biden said at the Energy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he was supposed to announce American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant awards. “Every single important event of my life he was there.”

Mr. Biden also recalling how Mr. Kennedy called the hospital most every day in 1972 when Mr. Biden’s family was in a car accident that killed his wife and infant daughter.

“He did that for hundreds and hundreds of people,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Kennedy’s death came just two weeks after that of Mrs. Shriver’s mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, one of the senator’s siblings.

“For five decades, Senator Kennedy was at the heart of our greatest debates, serving on the front lines of democracy,” said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who did not receive Mr. Kennedy’s endorsement in the 2008 race. “I will always treasure the memory of his friendship and the time we spent together, from the Massachusetts waters he loved so much, to the floor of the Senate that will feel empty without his booming voice and broad smile.”

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican said: “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 it chamber.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a 2008 Republican presidential contender, recalled losing to Mr. Kennedy in a 1994 Senate race. Nonetheless, the two joined forces in 2006 to help pass a universal health insurance law in Massachusetts.

“The last son of Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph Kennedy was granted a much longer life than his brothers, and he filled those years with endeavor and achievement that would have made them proud,” Mr. Romney said, recalling the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, as well as the World War II death of Joseph Kennedy.

“In 1994, I joined the long list of those who ran against Ted and came up short,” he said. “But he was the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary.”

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat and Mr. Kennedy’s junior colleague, lauded Mr. Kennedy for his cancer courage.

“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 14 months, he taught us much more about how to live life, sailing into the wind one last time,” Mr. Kerry said. “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.”

Mr. Reid promised that Congress, while mourning the loss of Mr. Kennedy, would renew the push for the cause of Kennedy’s life — health care reform.

“Ted Kennedy’s dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize,” he said. “The liberal lion’s mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.”

The Kennedy family issued the statement: “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.”

Elsewhere around world, Irish President Mary McAleese said Mr. Kennedy would be remembered “as a hugely important friend to this country during the very difficult times.

“His outstanding and remarkable personal contribution was made, despite the sacrifice and sorrow that was part of the overall contribution of the entire Kennedy family,” she said.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Mr. Kennedy had been “a great friend of Ireland.

“America has lost a great and respected statesman and Ireland has lost a long-standing and true friend,” Mr. Cowen said.

In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Mr. Kennedy “made an extraordinary contribution to American politics, an extraordinary contribution to America’s role in the world.”

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said the country has always had an appreciation for Mr. Kennedy “who left his mark in the fight for civil rights and who represented the values of democracy and liberty.”

Reporters Stephan Dinan and Christina Bellantoni contributed to this story.

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