If By A Liberal

David Horsey’s political cartoon on the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy is excellent.

His blog post goes on to say: Ted Kennedy’s very personal funeral pageant

So many of the personal reflections about Sen. Kennedy were similar tales about his dedication to family and friends. It made me resolve to be a more attentive friend — to make the phone calls and send the notes and be present in tough times the way Kennedy apparently was. All these testimonials were verification that the senator’s abundant personal empathy is what inspired his liberalism and infused his public life. One interview after the funeral mass was a notable example of this. The father of a young Massachusetts soldier who was killed in Iraq at the beginning of the war described how he discovered Kennedy standing behind him at his son’s funeral at Arlington. After the service, the man spoke to Kennedy and pleaded with him to do something about the lack of body armor and armored vehicles being provided American troops in the field. While the conservative administration that sent a poorly-protected army into battle dragged its feet, Kennedy, the liberal who had opposed the war, immediately went to work. He got the legislation passed to buy the armor and save American soldiers’ lives. That’s what I call really supporting the troops.

When the ceremony moved south to Washington, D.C., the the hearse and long line of black cadillac limousines made a stop at the United States Capitol. The scene there seemed unprecedented, with Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Reggie, summoning up the grit and grace to greet a large crowd of senators, representatives and congressional staffers. The best moment at the capitol: the spontaneous singing of God Bless America and America the Beautiful begun by the crowd of tourists across the drive. The least moving moment: The uninteresting, lengthy prayer of the chaplain.

Note: the singing was NOT spontaneous – some bossy staffer lady could be heard on the live stream, an hour or more before the motorcade arrived, telling the assembled staffers that they would be singing “America The Beautiful” and they’d have to do it a cappella. I didn’t hear any practicing, and when they did sing, it started raggedly and more or less in tune, though in a lower key than it was normally sung. So it sounded rough and unpracticed, but it was definitely set up in advance. That said, the Kennedy memorials and funerals from Wednesday to Saturday were all within driving distance of each other (East Coast, at least) and not the weeklong Presidential progress that took Reagan’s body from California to Washington for a state funeral, before returning to California for internment at his presidential library.

I hope that Vicki Kennedy was able to finally get some rest last night and that she was given some time to eat during the day yesterday, I can’t imagine the stress of getting through the funeral of a husband and family patriarch under the additional stress of wall-to-wall international television coverage.

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