Tag Archives: Ted Kennedy

Remembering Ted Kennedy. Will Last Lion have Last Laugh?

My most vivid memory of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy wasn’t the tumultuous reception he received at last year’s Democratic National Convention in Denver. Although to say he received a hero’s welcome would be the height of understatement. No, my memory goes back three decades earlier.

I was covering a rally to keep a hospital in Harlem open. It was 1977, and New York City was still trying to cope with a mammoth budget gap. Cops and teachers were being laid off, and a place called Sydenham Hospital was scheduled for closure. Normally, this was the kind of issue that attracted local politicians and health activists. But as I walked toward the hospital, I sensed something different. The crowd was larger than normal for a hot summer day. It was also louder.

I asked someone what brought all these people out, and she turned and said, “Haven’t you heard? Teddy Kennedy is here!” Those words alone were magic. There was always something about the relationship between black America and this family that was a close to royalty as you’d find in this country.

The Kennedys
The Kennedys

After all, it was Bobby Kennedy who walked the streets of Bedford Stuyvesant back in the late ’60s, and from that walk, Bed Stuy Restoration was born.

Bob Kennedy in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Bob Kennedy in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

And here was his kid brother, walking to the podium on the back of a flatbed truck. Ted Kennedy unleashed a torrent of words that day. I wish I still had the tape of his remarks.

I do remember he was one of the earliest politicians to link shortened black longevity to a lack of affordable healthcare. “We are going to fight to keep this hospital open”, he thundered, and the crowd believed his every word.

Years later, Sydenham is a health clinic, not a full blown hospital. But were it not for Ted Kennedy and the people of Harlem who fought that battle back in ’77, Sydenham would be little more than a memory.

And now, the Lion of the Senate has left us, left us to fight his last battle. That would be the battle for healthcare for all Americans. Unlike so many others, Ted Kennedy believed that poor and working people ought to have access to the same quality of care he had.

In the end, that’s what made him different, different 30 years ago, and different until the day he died. Ted Kennedy believed part of being American was wanting the best for all Americans. And so his passing should steel the resolve of those who believe the battle for affordable healthcare is a battle that must be won.

You tell me . Will healthcare reform be a part of Ted Kennedy’s legacy?

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Dick and Wanda. The Weekend's Top News?

Dick Cheney and Wanda Sykes. Believe it or not, they’re interrelated. They ended up being the top of news this weekend. Why? You tell me. Sykes became a Republican talking point for her searing criticism of Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Cheney is a talking point, and apparently the darling of Sunday gasbag shows for simply being Cheney. And their common point?

Yep, El Rushbo. Sykes joked about Limbaugh’s hope that President Obama fails. She called it treason. She went on to say he may have been the 20th hijacker on 9-11, except he was strung out on Oxycontin and missed his flight. She also said she hoped his kidneys failed. For whatever reason, some people think she went too far.

About Rush Limbaugh?

Are they kidding?

It may be uncool to wish anybody’s kidneys fail but we’re talking about a roast here. Roasts, last I checked, were known for pushing the envelope when it comes to taste.

Maybe they would have less of a problem had Wanda Sykes hoped Obama’s kidneys failed. After all, weren’t a lot of people who took umbrage at that infamous NY Post cartoon told to “get over it” by some in this same media? Anyway, Limbaugh himself said on his radio show recently that Sen. Ted Kennedy would be dead by the time health care reform passes. I ask you, which one goes too far?

Limbaugh is a grown man. All this attention reinforces his own view that he is the center of the American political universe. To top it off, here comes Dick Cheney with yet another overcovered Sunday talk show appearance. The former VP says he prefers Limbaugh’s brand of conservatism to Colin Powell’s. For reasons best known to themselves, the media acts like this is some sort of revelation.

The true revelation would be why anyone thinks Dick Cheney’s tiresome defense of all things Bush Administration has anything to do with life in 2009. The nation has moved along, trying to deal with the financial excesses that took place on the Bush-Cheney watch. And here he is, again, fear mongering, and talking up Limbaugh, a guy who’s approval ratings are right in the toilet with his.

Wanda Sykes and Dick Cheney, with a side order of Rush Limbaugh.

Was this a Mother’s Day Weekend to remember or what?

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