The Kennedys Are America’s Family

Picture from AP in Boston Hospital

The news of Senator Ted Kennedy’s medical condition hit everyone I talked with on Tuesday hard.  Real hard.  Politics did not matter, as the Kennedy family long ago passed above being just a partisan name.  There is little doubt that had the same announcement been made about any one of the other 99 Senators there would have been shock and sadness, but not the deep thud that so many experienced upon hearing about Ted Kennedy.  The reason is that the Kennedy family for decades has been America’s other family. 

The tales of Camelot and the beautiful and handsome faces of generations of Kennedys have left their mark on the hearts and minds of millions of my fellow citizens.  Their fame and feats have been the stuff of headlines and history, their times of crisis and funerals have showcased family solidarity and steadfastness.  The family of doers and dreamers also faced frailties and human shortcomings, which also made the headlines, and in the end proved how very much they were like every other family in America.

Ted Kennedy came to the Senate when I was a boy, and though he was not the first politician that intrigued me, (that was Richard Nixon) Teddy was the first politician I admired.  His views of how government could resolve inequalities and create a level-playing field in society were the substance of my political ideals, even now as an adult.  He was the one that made goose-bumps on my arm while speaking at the 1980 Democratic convention.  His final words that night at the podium was ones that inspired me. 

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

Soon after the speech I bought a poster size piece of heavy stock paper and wrote in perfect block letters the words that Kennedy had spoken.  I had it up in a visible place wherever I lived until a couple of years ago as a reminder of the mission we have in life.

When I heard the news at lunch today that Ted Kennedy had a cancerous tumor on his brain I was shocked to silence.  I just listened to the news and had to let it sink in.  The words from his colleagues were somber and emotional.  They spoke what many of us wanted to say.

The fact that this family will at times dominate the news in the days and weeks to come is because the networks know what we all feel.  This is not about a famed Senator or a political dynasty as much as it is about a family that we care about.  A family that fascinates us and caused us to clip pictures of them from magazines over the years and wonder when JFK Jr. would marry, and how Caroline’s kids were doing. 

We have been proud of them at weddings and cried with them at funerals.  In the days to come we will pray for them and urge Teddy to fight this battle for himself like the ones he fought for all of us over the years in the Senate. 

With all his heart.

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Sen. Edward Kennedy Has Malignant Brain Tumor

Doctors say Sen. Edward Kennedy has brain tumor; condition discovered after he had seizure.


Doctors for the Massachusetts Democrat say tests conducted after Kennedy suffered a seizure this weekend show a tumor in his left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma.

His treatment will be decided after more tests but the usual course includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy.

”I’m really sad,” former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., said when told in a Senate hallway about Kennedy’s condition. ”He’s the one politician who brings tears to my eyes when he speaks.”

The 76-year-old senator has been hospitalized in Boston since Saturday, when he was airlifted from Cape Cod after a seizure at his home.

”He has had no further seizures, remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital,” said a joint statement issued by Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy’s primary care physician.

The doctors said Kennedy will remain in the hospital ”for the next couple of days according to routine protocol.”

”He remains in good spirits and full of energy,” they said.

Kennedy’s wife and children have been with him each day but have made no public statements.

Malignant gliomas are a type of brain cancer diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year — and the most common type among adults. It’s a starting diagnosis: How well patients fare depends on what specific tumor type is determined by further testing.

Average survival can range from less than a year for very advanced and aggressive types — such as glioblastomas — or to about five years for different types that are slower growing.

Kennedy, the second-longest serving member of the Senate and a dominant figure in national Democratic Party politics, was elected in 1962, filling out the term won by his brother, John F. Kennedy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Ted and his entire family at this time.

Is The Bush Administration Planning To Attack Iran?

There have been plenty of thoughts among Americans about the intentions of President Bush’s administration as it relates to the highly thorny issue of Iran.  While my long-held view is that allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons is untenable, I have no faith that the Bush White House has the ability or willingness to provide accurate information on this matter, or make judicious decisions once all the information has been gathered.  There just is no credibility left with President Bush or his White House.  The fact that American foreign policy credibility is another causality of the Iraq War should make every citizen angry. 

How to deal with Iran is best left to the diplomats.  And a new president.  What I find disturbing this morning are some reports in the Israeli press concerning Iran that should not be missed, as it relates to the possible course of action that Bush and Company may undertake in the months to come. 

The AP reports the following.

A story in the Jerusalem Post quoted a “senior official” there as saying that Bush plans to attack Iran in the coming months. The story says the unidentified official claimed that a “senior member” of Bush’s traveling entourage made the statement about attacking Iran in a closed meeting. Bush was in Israel last week.

The article also says the unnamed Bush official said that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney “were of the opinion that military action were called for.”

Meanwhile the Jerusalem Post has the following story just about 7 hours ago.

Army Radio had quoted a top official in Jerusalem claiming that a senior member in the entourage of President Bush, who concluded a trip to Israel last week, had said in a closed meeting here that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action against Iran was called for.

The official reportedly went on to say that “the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice” was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic for the time being.

The Army Radio report, which was quoted by The Jerusalem Postand resonated widely, stated that according to assessments in Israel, the recent turmoil in Lebanon, where Hizbullah has de facto established control of the country, was advancing an American attack. 



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Locks Of Love

I am continually impressed by people I meet who are doing constructive things to help others.  Tonight as we joined Katie at her home for dinner, and met her boyfriend Joe who is a chef in Madison, the feeling struck me again.  The news may be full of the worst in our society, but often in our immediate surroundings are found remarkable people.  People with big hearts who care.

The first thing you notice about Joe is that he has lots of hair.  Wonderful hair.  But it will not be his for long, because in the next few days he will have it cut.  He has been growing his hair for months so he can donate it to the Locks Of Love foundation. 

The people who benefit from this foundation are children.

The children who receive these hairpieces have lost more than their hair; they suffer from a loss of self. Many children have been teased by classmates and/or embarrassed by the attention they receive because of their hair loss. They often will withdraw from normal childhood activities such as swimming, going to the mall or even playing with their friends. While wearing a hairpiece is certainly not a cure for these children, it can help restore some of the normalcy to their everyday lives that most of us take for granted. It is the goal to help provide a foundation on which they can begin to rebuild their self-esteem.

If you would like to participate in this worthy project you can find out more here and also register.

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