Shakespeare observed remorsefully, "The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones" Tragic but true, it speaks of our pettiness that we are so often blinded and imprisoned by our hostility.
Certainly Edward Kennedy was merely a man and had his faults as all men do. Many disagreed with his politics and with his beliefs about what makes for a civil society. But we needn't foam at the mouth at the mere mention of his name. To do so is unseemly, unfair, unhealthy, and makes us unworthy.
I, for one, will remember him as he remembered his brother Robert – as "a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it." And as a man who both respected and served humankind with a sincerity, grace and eloquence rarely seen these days.
Adam Clymer, former Washington correspondent for The New York Times and author of "Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography," is answering questions about Senator Kennedy today on The Times' Politics and Government blog. He writes, in part:
"If you voted at 18 or were served Meals on Wheels or took advantage of a Medicare drug benefit, he helped get you there. Cheap college loans, children’s health insurance, aid to the disabled and a variety of civil rights measures are also to his credit. I don’t adore him, but I respect that record. He achieved it by working across party lines, remarkable in a day when bitter partisanship seems to trump most issues in Washington."