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Edward Kennedy has malignant brain tumor
May 20, 2008 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Edward Kennedy has malignant brain tumor A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said Tuesday in a grim diagnosis for one of American politics' most enduring figures. "He remains in good spirits and full of energy," the doctors for the 76-year-old Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.

They said tests conducted after the seizure showed a tumor in Kennedy's left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma, they said.
posted by photodegas (98 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
.

A friend's sister died of this at age 40. It was horrible to witness.
posted by desjardins at 12:26 PM on May 20, 2008


I kinda figured it would be something like this. I was holding out hope, of course... but still, a seizure at his age is never a good thing.

Thank you for your service, Senator.
posted by Avenger at 12:27 PM on May 20, 2008


EPrimer on brain tumors

Living with a malignant brain tumor
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:27 PM on May 20, 2008


I think that Karen Tumulty has just said it best at Swampland:
If a lawmaker is to be measured by the sheer volume of his legislative accomplishments, then Senator Kennedy has been, hands down, the most important Senator of the past half-century--a case that Adam Clymer made forcefully in his masterful biography of Kennedy. Paradoxically, his greatest achievements came only after he gave up any ambition to be President, and his impact may have been greater for having been denied that dream. Though his public image is that of an unreconstructed liberal, he was extraordinarily skilled at working across party and ideological lines.
posted by y2karl at 12:31 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


[a few comments removed - shitty jokes go immediately to MetaTalk or better yet noplace on this site.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:31 PM on May 20, 2008 [17 favorites]


Edward Kennedy's voting record.

Wikipedia page on Kennedy.

Chappaquiddick incident.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:32 PM on May 20, 2008


My first thought was, "does he spend lots of time on his cell phone?" That's no joke, nor is it meant to be rude or dismissive. There's an epidemic of brain cancer going on in the developed world and despite inconclusive evidence from studies on the subject, well, you just have to wonder, don't you? Not that I really think Senator Kennedy got this from a cell phone. Its just the first thing I always think when I hear about brain tumors.
posted by PigAlien at 12:41 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've met this guy (and his son now Congressman back when he was basically a bunch of freckles and a blue blazer) a couple times, and while I don't have a comprehensive list of everything he has every proposed and whether I agree with it or not , he always shook my hand and knew my name, and seemed to be a pretty decent guy who was trying to put a little good into the world.

Last time I saw him was standing talking in the driveway of the Hyannisport compound about 24 years ago. It was Rose's 80-something birday, and they were dedicating a new flagpole.

I'm this 20-something reporter from cornfield Illinois who now finds himself standing in the Kennedy Compound, and here comes Ted walking down the driveway at me. I pretty much turned to jelly thinking of all the time I spent reading the Warren Report as a little kid, and feeling like I am in the prescence of greatness of some sort.

Perfect gentleman, just asking that, hey..mom is in a wheelchair OK? She's not really able to answer questions, so if you guys could keep it to photos and B roll and leave her alone, I would really appreciate it.

He goes back to the house, a van honks behind me, and I swear, it is John Ritter ( who I guess was some shirttail relation)

Sorry for the /ramble...just a day in my life I'll never forget.

I think the guy still has some good work he could do, and a good heart , and I would hate to see it cut short.

Swear if this get's derailed into some Chappaquiddickfilter, I will find a way to make those posters' lives unpleasant.
posted by timsteil at 12:47 PM on May 20, 2008 [23 favorites]


There's an epidemic of brain cancer going on in the developed world and despite inconclusive evidence from studies on the subject, well, you just have to wonder, don't you?

Could you link to documentation saying there's more recorded brain cancer now than there has been before the introduction of cell phones and information on how often brain cancer is detected due to more sensitive instruments? There are studies with differing results on the effects of cell phones on cancer rates, but I have seen many of those that claim a correlation discredited.
posted by mikeh at 12:47 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is almost assumed at this point by natives and long-time residents of the Cape that there are some environmental factors that make cancer more common here. There are studies that show risk of breast cancer is 20% higher on the Cape than it is in the rest of Massachusetts. I know he has spent a great deal of time off-Cape, but people here are saying that he is just the latest victim of Cape cancer.

Also, I hate to bring politics into this, but here goes:

I have thought for some time that Hillary Clinton would make a great "next Ted Kennedy" -- a big name, energizing, polarizing, powerful Democrat who could move things through the Senate through sheer force of will. If she could give up her ambitions to become President, I think that could be a real legacy for her to aim for.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:50 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks for representing me for my full 23 years, Senator Kennedy. Even if I didn't agree with you all the time, I'm really proud to have you as my senator.
posted by giraffe at 12:53 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, so all the prayers of those rednecks down in Alabama really do come true.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:02 PM on May 20, 2008


Sorry, I meant to add, I'm sorry to hear this.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2008


This makes me sad.

But I have to note that this past year every time I turn around I am hearing about someone else being diagnosed with a brain tumor....my husband's stepdad included. Does anyone out there have any realtime statistics to back me up on that?
posted by konolia at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2008


Well, shit.

I'm reserving my moment of silence, hoping instead that he weathers the storm with as little pain and discomfort as possible. Brain cancer...gah. No one should have to deal with that.
posted by Brak at 1:04 PM on May 20, 2008


.
posted by chunking express at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2008


My father met Senator Kennedy at various skipper's meetings in the 1970s and 1980s (he was very involved in Boston Harbor yacht racing for about 25 years) and has nothing but praise for him. My grandfather served in the Army in WWII, but his service records were destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, and he was never able to collect any benefits. My father approached Sen. Kennedy at a meeting, briefly explained the problem, and was told to contact the office on Monday and speak to his staffers. My dad did so, and Sen. Kennedy's staffers were awaiting his call having already been prepped. They did research until they were able to verify my grandfather's service record and ensure he received everything he was entitled to. I have no idea how they did it; while in graduate school I attempted to research the same information and was unable to turn up a single thing.

Say what you want about the man, he did a stand-up job as Senator for the people of Massachusetts and for the entire nation, and this is sad news indeed.
posted by jennaratrix at 1:12 PM on May 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


I work in the Senate and I shared an elevator with him once...it was at most 30 seconds long, but I will never forget it.

If anyone can beat this, it is him, and I give him and his family my best wishes. He is known as the Lion of The Senate, and it fits.
posted by photodegas at 1:14 PM on May 20, 2008


The man has been a Senator longer than the 41 years I've been on the planet. As y2karl pointed out, he's a been a tireless legislator, more of a "work horse" than a "show horse" as Congressional scholars would note. I'm saddened.
posted by donovan at 1:18 PM on May 20, 2008


also...just as an added bit of synchronicity/weirdness...... on the morning my youngest daughter was born, I left the hospital for a while to go get a sandwich.

Who do I run into coming out of the White Hen? I mean literally, one of them oops sorry man things as I run into him and he is coming out? His nephew, William Kennedy Smith, at the time a MD at the Rehab Institute of Chicago
posted by timsteil at 1:22 PM on May 20, 2008


Oh god, I hope he lives long enough to see W out of office. He deserves to see things left in a slightly better state than this.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:22 PM on May 20, 2008 [14 favorites]


There are studies that show risk of breast cancer is 20% higher on the Cape than it is in the rest of Massachusetts

There are studies that show the risk is much higher in Marin, California, too...

...because the people who live there are almost universally affluent, insured, and educated -- which means they're much much more likely to have a regular mammogram. I suspect this is true of Cape Cod, too.

If the US does end up with universal healthcare and/or freely available mammography, it would rather quickly appear that the risk of breast cancer skyrockets -- but nobody sane would suggest that it's the more regular use of the machines that are causing the cancer... right?


I've met Sen. Kennedy as well, at a sailing-oriented event. He struck me as a very decent, reasonable, almost normal guy, especially considering his name recognition. I wish him all the best.
posted by toxic at 1:29 PM on May 20, 2008


Godspeed Teddy
posted by caddis at 1:30 PM on May 20, 2008


Ted has er been a great ah representative um from the er Commonwealth of er Massachusetts for most of my lifetime. Once when I was twelve or so I learned the hard way that one does not work against Teddy (or any Kennedy) in MA. I naively volunteered for one of his opponents. Sad to say dropping fliers on Chestnut street in the Fall was not a good idea.
posted by Gungho at 1:33 PM on May 20, 2008


I disliked Teddy for a long time, but he won me over. He's a good guy, and I'm sorry he and his family have to deal with this.
posted by languagehat at 1:35 PM on May 20, 2008


I've already noticed that the people who demand only reverent words and civility when Conservative icons die are already publicly delighting in this. Just as Reagan fell ill to a horrible disease I wouldn't wish on anyone, I also hope that Kennedy and his family don't have to endure too much undue suffering.
posted by Legomancer at 1:39 PM on May 20, 2008


Mikeh, the brain cancer epidemic is well established. However, it has been increasing since the 1950s, long before cell phones. You can find the articles easily yourself with a simple google search. It may take time before we see what the long term effects cell phone radiation are, although I wouldn't be surprised if they started to show soon, as many people have been using cell phones for upwards of 15 years now. Regardless, I'm not making any statements as to cause-effect here. Still, I look at this issue like the dangers of second-hand smoke and the human influence on global warming (or climate change, as some would have us call it). There are so many powerful people interested in obfuscation.
posted by PigAlien at 1:40 PM on May 20, 2008


This broke my heart.

I guess I should mark it as NSFW, because you don't want to watch this at the office.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2008


That's too bad.

However... a relative of mine (admittedly much younger than Kennedy) underwent surgery for a malignant brain tumor. Post-surgery we were told it was stage 4 glioblastoma. Prognosis: 6 months to 3 years, on the outside. There were more horrible surgeries, and another tumor a year later.

Fast forward 5 years. He is doing fantastic. His MRIs since the second surgery have all been 100% clear. He has a scar running across the top of his head that he proudly shows off. After telling people he got the scar in a knife fight ("you outta see the other guy!") he tells them about his amazing recovery, which he and his doctors consider downright miraculous.

So... anything is possibly. But at 76 I'm sure the prognosis is pretty bleak.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:43 PM on May 20, 2008


a relative of mine (admittedly much younger than Kennedy) underwent surgery for a malignant brain tumor. Post-surgery we were told it was stage 4 glioblastoma.
...
Fast forward 5 years. He is doing fantastic.
Thanks for sharing that story, Fuzzy. I really needed to hear that given the recent diagnosis of someone else I know.
posted by deanc at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2008


It's a measure of his great stature in my eyes that he is the No. 1 bogeyman for the hardcore conservative right. He emerged from the shadows of an unpromising youth, some incidents of spectacularly poor judgment, and most important, the martyrdom of his brothers, to become the preeminent liberal voice on the floor of the Senate, and yet paradoxically one of the most skilled at working across party lines to get things done.

One of the most electric moments of my life was seeing him at a tiny union hall in 1980 in his primary battle with Jimmy Carter. I was a teenager just there for the celebrity value, but he played that small, low-ceilinged room like it was Madison Square Garden, and I think everyone there would have voted for him twice. Possibly many did.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:49 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


...
posted by Pastabagel at 1:52 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have two very true "running into Ted" stories, or rather being run into by Ted stories.

A friend and I were walking on the Hill during lunch and clearly crossing a legally marked cross walk. Suddenly, there must have been a vote called as several Senators started bolting for the building on foot and in cars. Along came Teddy's green minivan full of staffers and the big guy himself, who were all clearly talking and not paying attention. Bump, a very slow-speed collision (like rolling on idle, no gas) with my friend, who smacked the hood. Down came the window and a very red faced Ted checked out my friend, who was clearly fine just a bit ticked. They were quite embarrassed and apologizeds profusely. Off went everyone, no harm done.

Another time, I was cutting across the park just west of the Russel building at the crack of dawn. Whap, I get pegged by this disgusting, wet tennis ball followed by a full sprint, slobbering full sized black poodle, who slams into me, grabs the ball and heads back to the source of the slobber-ball, a very red faced and embarrassed Ted Kennedy who appologized profusely, no harm done.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:52 PM on May 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


PS, for those people who are talking about increased detection rates due to advanced technology, let me point out that almost all cancers are eventually detected, even back in the 1950s. When people get cancer, before they eventually die of it, they usually fall ill. Assuming they see a doctor at some point during their illness, their cancer is likely to be discovered. On top of that, after you are dead, it is customary to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, at which point they rip out all your organs and disssect them. If the cancer was bad enough to kill you, then its probably pretty easy to detect in an autopsy. Autopsies are usually only skipped with the very elderly or when its really obvious what caused the death, like a car accident, or someone who was already being treated for an illness (which is therefore already diagnosed). A 39 year old woman who falls ill and dies is not going to be buried without an autopsy...

So, although better equipment might increase the early detection statistics on cancer, its not going to affect the overall detection rate enough to explain the very large leaps in cancer rates that are well documented, including brain cancer.

And, PS, there is research to suggest that annual mammograms do not increase survival rates.
posted by PigAlien at 1:53 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


PigAlien, it's clear you've done your homework on cancer detection, etc. but I'm not sure the derail is warranted in this thread. Maybe your own front page post on the topic? Thanks.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:59 PM on May 20, 2008


In my line of work, I see a lot of emotional tributes...but that Robert Byrd thing was borderline creepy. I'm just sayin'.
posted by ColdChef at 2:04 PM on May 20, 2008


Why are you all burying him, already? His prognosis is not as bleak as you imagine.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:04 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can find the articles easily yourself with a simple google search.
It would be polite of you, PigAlien, to make the simple search and post the cites.

(On topic)
I am saddened by this news.
posted by Floydd at 2:04 PM on May 20, 2008


I've already noticed that the people who demand only reverent words and civility when Conservative icons die are already publicly delighting in this.

I haven't noticed it. The first thing I did after I heard was to check Little Green Footballs to find just that kind of hypocrisy, and was frankly astonished to find the discussion, by and large, sympathetic and humane.

Why are you all burying him, already? His prognosis is not as bleak as you imagine.

Actually, it is. He's got a malignant glioma and has shown symptoms, so he's about 50/50 over two years, even with the best treatment, which he is sure to get.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:14 PM on May 20, 2008


Link to supposed delight over this? All I've seen in the center-right blogosphere is hopes for the best.
posted by BrooklynCouch at 2:18 PM on May 20, 2008


Link to supposed delight over this? All I've seen in the center-right blogosphere is hopes for the best.

Free Republic is already on its third thread about this because the first two had to be deleted.
posted by Legomancer at 2:19 PM on May 20, 2008


Isn't it a little too early for '.'s? He isn't dead yet. According to the reports, life expectancy could be 1-5 years.
posted by mike3k at 2:22 PM on May 20, 2008


Godspeed.
posted by arimathea at 2:27 PM on May 20, 2008


Peace, my brother.
posted by Senator at 2:29 PM on May 20, 2008


The threads at Redstate and LGF are surprisingly classy. Nice to see.

As someone who grew up in a household where Ted Kennedy was rated somewhere between Hillary Clinton and Joseph Stalin, I've only come to appreciate his work in the Senate in the past few years. Here's hoping his remaining months are relatively peaceful and pain-free.

In a way, I wonder if knowing you have a limited amount of time offers some advantages, an impetus to resolve your relationships well and "enjoy every sandwich," as Warren Zevon said. Not that I'd wish it on anyone, of course, but there's something to be said for being able to say goodbye to your loved ones as opposed to dropping dead of a heart attack or dying in a plane crash.
posted by EarBucket at 2:32 PM on May 20, 2008


Well, Free Republic isn't decent on any day. It's the Daily Kos of the Right, or worse.
posted by BrooklynCouch at 2:35 PM on May 20, 2008


What kind of tumor is this?
"One expert, Dr. Joseph Madsen, a neurosurgeon at Children's Hospital Boston, said the diagnosis was 'very sad news.'

'High-grade glio-malignancies' such as Senator Kennedy has 'are unfortunately the most common kind of brain tumor in this age group, and they have a poor prognosis for long-term survival,' he said.

They can also be very debilitating during treatment, Madsen said, and Kennedy’s tumor is in an area where it may well eventually affect his speech."*
Hang in there, Teddy.
posted by ericb at 2:38 PM on May 20, 2008


On top of that, after you are dead, it is customary to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death

Not in the US, it isn't. According to the most recent (2003) statistics, about 7% of deaths receive an autopsy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:50 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


When people get cancer, before they eventually die of it, they usually fall ill.... it is customary to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death

Neither of these is remotely true. For example, detection of prostate cancer (the second most common cancer of men) is increased enormously by regular screening and over the past 15 years by widespread PSA testing. However, most of those men would have died of something else had their cancer not been detected. A similar issue if part of why mammography doesn't necessarily push down death rates; most of what you're detecting was not going to kill the person.

Aside from forensics cases, autopsy is pretty rare now. The last year with complete data (1994) was less than 6%, and it's continued to decline. If you have a good guess why someone died, most families are not super interested in an autopsy. Most institutions are not super interested in spending the money (pathologist salary) to find out that someone died of something that they didn't detect and maybe getting sued. My recollection is that autopsies push down the malpractice rate, but lots of people don't see it that way.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:50 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I use '.' so that threads show up in my recent activity page. I also sometimes post throw away comments. It all depends on my mood. WORD.
posted by chunking express at 2:54 PM on May 20, 2008


I have had the privilege of having several long discussions in recent years with Sen. Kennedy in very small group settings, asking him questions about a variety of topics, and I've been at several events where he spoke (all the way back to around 1970). For all the (alleged) hard partying, the guy absolutely has all his marbles and is always on top of the issues. He is a first rate orator, especially when speaking off the cuff on a topic he cares about. As noted already, his office is fabulous about constituent service. He gets around to all corners of Massachusetts regularly, walks or rides in July 4 parades, goes camping, etc.

Those periods are a tad premature by the way, don't count him out yet.
posted by beagle at 2:59 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


As someone that regularly fills out death certificates, they are about as precise as a seven-day weather forecast from 1985. Now fuck-off with all the tinfoil cancer shit and get back to the anecdotes.
posted by docpops at 3:09 PM on May 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


A very dear friend of mine was diagnosed with brain tumor and lived with it for years. In between the time of his diagnosis and his death, he had time to complete a great number of projects that were of personal importance to him. It was only in his final month or two that he was physically unable to continue, and even then he was planning new projects.

I guess my point is that we shouldn't necessarily expect this to be the immediate end of Kennedy's works. I imagine that he'll feel like he still has a number of things to take care of.

Best of luck, Senator.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:16 PM on May 20, 2008


in 1992, i had the pleasure of debating evolution and creationism with robert kennedy jr. (totally informal debate -- he was leading a seminar i attended, and the after-talk conversation somehow turned to this topic). by the end of the conversation, RFKjr told me that i should meet teddy sometime -- that i was almost as good at arguing as he was!

i, too, have had my good and bad impressions of senator kennedy. (in fact, his heavy-handed ushering of NCLB thru the senate is, IMO, part of the reason why we're bitching so much about teachers in another current thread). but i have always respected his dedication. even if i sometimes don't admire his tactics, i believe he is one of the good guys.

my best for him and his family. namaste', senator.
posted by CitizenD at 3:27 PM on May 20, 2008


mefi etiquette question: don't the periods just stand for a "moment of silence"? are moments of silence only appropriate after a person dies? 'cause seeing them here in this thread has only signified to me that those commenters are sending him good thoughts. just curious.
posted by CitizenD at 3:30 PM on May 20, 2008


If you didn't go to gnfti's link, you should. It's Senator Robert Byrd--another one of the good ones--talking about his friend, Senator Kennedy. And it is heart-breaking.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:32 PM on May 20, 2008


re: the diagnosis -- Teddy's a tough guy who had to take a lot of hits in his life (a lot of them self-inflicted, but still) and he's still standing: I won't be surprised if he somehow fights back this one or keeps it at bay for quite some time, as we all hope he does.

the larger picture of his place in American history, of course, as mentioned above, is that -- much like another flawed giant of the Senate, and ironically someone whom the Kennedys have many reasons not to like one bit, LBJ -- Teddy Kennedy is a politician whose many, deep personal flaws have miracolously not impaired his ability to see right and wrong, and to do the right thing (Kennedy in almost half a century on the floor of the Senate, Johnson by wheeling and dealing and cajoling his way from the White House into ramming desegregation down the throat of the one half of the country that considered it anathema).

Teddy's ability, throughout his career, to simply draft legislation and find support for it and see it eventually passed, often against vast Republican majorities or massively influential Republican presidents or both, it's the testament to the sheer ability -- no, to the sheer genius -- of this man.

for all the tragedy he endured, the damage he did to himself -- and, yes, to others, because even if you admire Kennedy's political accomplishments it is not a bad thing to remember on this day Mary Jo Kopechne or Kennedy's merciless family loyalty during his nephew's rape trial or his almost complete stony silence, however inevitable for many reasons, as Clarence Thomas got shamefully confirmed as lifelong Justice of the US Supreme Court by Kennedy's peers in the Senate -- for everything bad that happened to him and his family, and all his obvious flaws, for all his sins, thanks to Edward M. Kennedy, these past five decades, many Americans -- not just in his State, and both liberal and conservative and apolitical -- all have had a few more rights, have been hit a less harshly by economic downturns or old age or sickness, have had a little more protection on their workplace, or marginally cleaner water, even, in part, thanks to Teddy's hard work in thinking about them, thanks to his determination, all his human limitations notwithstanding, to do the right thing.

for this, I think, nevermind a Kennedy mistique that doesn't exist anymore outside of old black and white photos and old newsreels (and rightly so), for this he deserves the gratitude of anybody who still think that public service can be a noble endeavor.
posted by matteo at 3:41 PM on May 20, 2008 [16 favorites]


I couldn't get the link posted by goodnewsfortheinsane and highlighted by Pater Aletheias to work on my comp-- here it is on YouTube. It is, as they said, heartbreaking.

I'm from Massachusetts. He's just always been a part of political and cultural life. This is just unimaginable. Here's hoping that he can beat this.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:07 PM on May 20, 2008


Good luck, Teddy. And thank you.

:(
posted by perilous at 4:10 PM on May 20, 2008


I am your stereotypical Irish-Catholic liberal Massachusetts Democrat. Ted Kennedy is my favorite politician and I look forward to voting for him every time he's up for re-election. When he takes the floor and speaks out on behalf of the poor, the working class, equal rights, gay marriage, better funding for education, and other liberal ideals, I feel so proud. He's my Senator, and he stands for what I believe in.

Get well soon, Senator Kennedy.
posted by emd3737 at 4:37 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I am a native of Massachusetts, and have spent most of my life here. While my sense of pride and identity as "American" has often wavered and been conflicted, as over the past eight years this country has been dragged into the pits in all sorts of ways, I have always, always been proud to be from Massachusetts, and Senator Kennedy's service has a vital place in that pride.

I have often felt "frustrated," albeit in a good way, with my place in the political process here... not because I'm upset with the way my reps vote, but the opposite: they almost always vote the way I would like them to when it matters. Every time an important vote comes up, I go and check the roll call, and find that Senator Kennedy, almost always, has voted exactly the way I would have wanted him to. I don't know that there are many places I could live (or many senators I could have representing me) where that would be true as often as it has been with him. It's a rare privilege. He's been my senator for my entire life, and like most things like that, I can't even imagine a Massachusetts without him in the Senate representing it.
posted by Kosh at 4:44 PM on May 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Ted had been my senator on and off during the times I've lived in MA (where I live currently), and he is absolutely one of my biggest heroes. He's done more for pretty much any cause I believe in politically than anyone I know. He certainly wasn't perfect, but to me that always added a human element that made me identify with him even more. Maybe it's because Chappaquiddick and most of his other major transgressions happened long before I was even born. I don't know.

I think what I like most about the guy is that he's still at it. He's loaded, and he could have been spending his twilight years chilling at The Compound with his family. This certainly isn't unique to him, but it's a pretty amazing thing to see this guy at 76 giving fiery speeches and busting butt for the most needy in his constituency and beyond. I saw him as recently as last year, and I remember mentioning to a friend how much his body betrays his spirit. He looks like he's 76, but he's got the heart and soul of a much younger man.

Here's hoping that very same fire will get him through this for as long as possible. I'm suppressing any feelings I have about him passing until I have to deal with that.

One last thing...

In my line of work, I see a lot of emotional tributes...but that Robert Byrd thing was borderline creepy. I'm just sayin'.

Well, I am neither an undertaker nor do I play one on TV, but I'm really glad to see that you felt this way. It made me really uncomfortable.
posted by rollbiz at 5:19 PM on May 20, 2008


There has been a Kennedy in the Senate for my entire life, and I am 52 years old. I simply do not want to imagine a Senate without a Kennedy. Can Kathleen step up and fill this mighty legacy?



.
posted by nax at 5:24 PM on May 20, 2008


This is sad news. I'm Canadian, but from what I gather Senator Kennedy holds views that are much in line with centrist Canadian politics.

Can someone here explain to me why Kennedy is so hated by much of the Right? I don't quite get the vitriol that seems to swirl around the guy.
posted by illiad at 5:27 PM on May 20, 2008


I've lived in Massachusetts for 21 years now, so I may be the person here the longest who has not ever run into Ted Kennedy. And in that time I ran into Mike Dukakis (twice), Bill Weld (several times), Ray Flynn (he was jogging, surprisingly) and more assorted athletes and musicians than I can remember. Now I really wish I had met Teddy at some point. Even his political "enemies" will surely regret seeing the Senate without him, once he is gone. Thank you for a lifetime of service, Senator.
posted by yhbc at 5:28 PM on May 20, 2008


Being hated by the Right is usually a sign that you're doing a good job, illiad.
posted by uosuaq at 5:53 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Agreed, uosuaq -- if the Right hates you, you're probably a. doing a good job or b. a decent human being. Kennedy is a "c. all of the above."
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:03 PM on May 20, 2008


He was my senator when I lived in MA, and I still kind of think of him that way, although it's been years since I lived there. I finally got around to sending him a fan letter (well, fan email) a year or so ago, after I saw a youtube video of his speech on the floor urging (no - berating, yelling at, shaming) his colleagues to up the minimum wage.
posted by rtha at 6:05 PM on May 20, 2008


As someone who is from Connecticut, I was always hearing about Teddy, but I didn't really think about him until the recent election cycle. I mean, our state has Dodd (who is OK) and Lieberman of all things as our representation. So in many ways I am envious of MA for their Kennedy in hindsight (I now live in WA).

Hopefully this reminds people that there wont always be the Lion in the Senate (but I hope he will still be around for many more years), so other people will have to learn how to step up to the podium and keep things in line.
posted by mrzarquon at 6:16 PM on May 20, 2008


Can someone here explain to me why Kennedy is so hated by much of the Right? I don't quite get the vitriol that seems to swirl around the guy.

Since you asked: (1) he is one of the most liberal members of the Senate; (2) he killed a young woman with impunity; (3) he is often bellicose, underprepared, and misinformed; and (4) the Camelot mystique is grating and tired. I guess there is also (5) some resentment and even envy that Senator Kennedy, because of his surname or because of his commitment to liberal causes, receives glowing press and public adoration from many people in spite of his many warts and flaws. Finally, but not exclusive to the Right's point of view, (6) Senator Kennedy used to epitomize New England preppy smarminess before he gained all of that weight. To many conservatives, Senator Kennedy epitomizes everything that is wrong with the Democrat Party, in the same way that Trent Lott epitomizes everything that is wrong with the Republican Party to many liberals, even though Senator Lott is also a pretty genial fellow.

That said, my prayers are with Senator Kennedy and his family. I don't agree with the hagiography in this thread, but I understand the impulse. It sounds like his chances of recovery are poor, but I hope he passes with dignity and without suffering.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:46 PM on May 20, 2008


I'm with languagehat and matteo: I used to detest the Kennedys, mostly because I don't like seeing aristocratic dynasties getting elected because of their name and family connections, and because of the entitlement (e.g., Chappaquiddick and the fortune built in rum-running and the William Kennedy Smith rape trial).

But I slowly came around; my disdain for the Kennedy clan is yet another casualty of the Bush II years (Bush has even stolen my comfortable hates!) and a recognition of the good fights Ted Kennedy has fought. The loss of Ted Kennedy will be a loss for the country especially now when progressive patriots are so sorely needed.

That out of the way, how exactly does cancer, or brain cancer anyway, kill? What's the mechanism, what's the general prognosis and course of the disease?
posted by orthogonality at 6:58 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


That out of the way, how exactly does cancer, or brain cancer anyway, kill? What's the mechanism, what's the general prognosis and course of the disease?

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on MF, however I can tell you that the mechanism and end result of the disease depend greatly on where the tumor is located in the brain.

I've known two people who died from brain tumors: one essentially starved to death after most of her higher brain functions shut down and the other stopped breathing when the sections of his brain that controlled autonomic functions ceased functioning.

My heart goes out to Senator Kennedy and his family.
posted by elfgirl at 7:20 PM on May 20, 2008


And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:
"I am a part of all that I have met....
Tho much is taken, much abides....
That which we are, we are--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
...strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. 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.


Senator Edward M. Kennedy - August 12, 1980
posted by briank at 7:26 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


To many conservatives, Senator Kennedy epitomizes everything that is wrong with the Democrat Party, in the same way that Trent Lott epitomizes everything that is wrong with the Republican Party to many liberals, even though Senator Lott is also a pretty genial fellow.

And nothing in the political world grates on MY nerves more than the simple rudeness of refusing to get the name of the Democratic Party right.

You have your reasons for why you say the rightwingers hate the Kennedys. I say it's because the family has given so much, been correct and caring of the little guy at all times, and the Republican hate machine can't stand that fact.
posted by etaoin at 8:09 PM on May 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ted Kennedy has exemplified many things I hold in high regard: he has stayed true to a liberal and passionate philosophy, he has rarely backed down from a fight, he has always had his say, he has won with grace and lost with dignity. In short, he has fought the good fight. This country, and planet, could use a few more people like that.

My father died of the same thing that Senator Kennedy now faces. I know he's facing a rough road. I extend my thanks, and wish him the best of luck.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:21 PM on May 20, 2008


In short, he has fought the good fight. This country, and planet, could use a few more people like that.

Teddy is also responsible for the ugly state of politics in America and the infusion of big corporate money. His seemingly lifetime appointment to what should be a competitive elected seat in the Republic is not a sign of a healthy, functioning democracy. This is what corrupts democracy and Teddy's one of the reasons Washington DC is as fucked up as it is. The fact that there was no chance of a woman or minority or anyone else to occupy that seat for the last 40 plus years is something the people of Massachusetts should be ashamed of.

I wish him well as an individual, but hope this signals the end of the Kennedy oligarchy and a return to representative democracy in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

Send us a woman please. Preferrably one without blue blood.
posted by three blind mice at 12:18 AM on May 21, 2008


Brain tumor aside, is this man really that great or are we hanging on to a legend and the Kennedy aura?
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:41 AM on May 21, 2008


Dasheekeejones,
He really is that great (unless you're a conservative). Take a look at his voting record and listen to some of his speeches. I was born long after the first two Kennedys were assassinated, but throughout my lifetime, Ted Kennedy has repeatedly stood up and fought for what I believe in.

three blind mice- The reason why Ted Kennedy gets reelected term after term is that he is a very effective Senator and one whose politics agree with the majority of his constituency: i.e. liberal Democrats. Because of Ted Kennedy, there was also no chance a Republican could occupy that seat, either. I'm all for more representation of women and minorities in our government, but your request smacks of tokenism.
posted by emd3737 at 5:08 AM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have often felt "frustrated," albeit in a good way, with my place in the political process here... not because I'm upset with the way my reps vote, but the opposite: they almost always vote the way I would like them to when it matters. Every time an important vote comes up, I go and check the roll call, and find that Senator Kennedy, almost always, has voted exactly the way I would have wanted him to.

Quoted for truth. Whenever I hear someone telling me to call or write my Senator to make sure they vote the right way on such-and-such piece of legislation, I am always slightly miffed to find that Teddy is already on board, and my gifts of oratory and influence are not needed.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:33 AM on May 21, 2008


The fact that there was no chance of a woman or minority or anyone else to occupy that seat for the last 40 plus years is something the people of Massachusetts should be ashamed of.

Wow. Funny how you can see a username for years and not really associate anything with it either good or bad, and then suddenly there's that one comment that changes everything.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:39 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Teddy is also responsible for the ugly state of politics in America and the infusion of big corporate money.

Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, and the ghost of Tricky Dick are going to be pissed off at not getting any credit from you! Oh, and that guy who used to run Halliburton and KBR - what was his name again?
posted by rtha at 8:18 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fact that there was no chance of a woman or minority or anyone else to occupy that seat for the last 40 plus years is something the people of Massachusetts should be ashamed of.


You truly believe this? A competent white guy who serves his constituents, reflects their attitudes AND is known sides of the aisle as an extremely competent and effective legislator is supposed to step out the way? For? Last I heard, there were two senators from each state; the commonwealth's governor is black, by the way, the AG is female, etc., etc.
posted by etaoin at 8:22 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fact that there was no chance of a woman or minority or anyone else to occupy that seat for the last 40 plus years is something the people of Massachusetts should be ashamed of.

Wow, not to feed the troll here, but why does someone's having or not having of a vagina or "blue blood" make them instantly more or less of an advocate for the people? There was also not the opportunity for another white male to occupy the seat, what does that prove?

If you want to complain about machine politics, that's one subject. Gender bias in politics is another (as is racial bias). The subjects are not mutually exclusive.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:23 AM on May 21, 2008


"Yesterday, after news broke that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, right-wing radio host Michael Savage mocked him on air by playing audio from Kindergarten Cop in which Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character says, 'It’s not a tumor.' Savage also played a song by the punk band the Dead Kennedys 'in some respect' for Sen. Kennedy." *
Classy. Real classy.
posted by ericb at 8:38 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fact that there was no chance of a woman or minority or anyone else to occupy that seat for the last 40 plus years is something the people of Massachusetts should be ashamed of.

Actually, something of which we are most proud.
1964 -- Kennedy (74.3%) defeats Howard Whitmore, Jr. (R)

1970 -- Kennedy (62.1%) defeats Josiah A. Spaulding (R)

1976 -- Kennedy (69.3%) defeats Michael S. Robertson (R)

1982 -- Kennedy defeats (60.8%) Ray Shamie (R)

1988 -- Kennedy (65.0%) defeats Joseph D. Malone (R)

1994 -- Kennedy (58.1%) defeats Mitt Romney (R)

2000 -- Kennedy (72.9%) defeats Jack E. Robinson III (R)

2006 -- Kennedy (69.5%) defeats Kenneth Chase (R)
posted by ericb at 8:52 AM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm all for more representation of women and minorities in our government, but your request smacks of tokenism.

Because yeah, the female acting governor Massachusetts had before they elected Mittler was so effective:
By the end of her term, Swift was extremely unpopular with voters in the state (at one point having the dubious honor of a single-digit approval rating). This unpopularity was due in part to a perceived lack of effectiveness and in part to apparent abuses of her gubernatorial privileges, including: her use of a Massachusetts State Police helicopter to commute cross-state, from Boston to her home in North Adams; and, the use of State House aides to babysit her children.
If Ted Kennedy asked taxpayer-paid aides to babysit his kids, he'd be excoriated. Explain to me, a liberal, female former resident of Massachusetts why we should focus on getting more women into high office rather than simply more qualified people in general, regardless of their gender/race/etc? Tokenism doesn't get quality officials elected, focusing on their effectiveness and ability to do the job does.

Ted Kennedy is nothing if not effective, bipartisan and highly-respected, which is part and parcel of getting things done in government. Look at the big picture of what he's accomplished instead of being angry about who might have gotten elected to his seat. He could have sat on his ass out on the Cape drinking gin for the past 40 years, but instead he's been doing a bang-up job as a senator, and that's why he gets reelected every time. Seniority counts in the Senate, and he's got it, which enables him to do even more for his state. Replacing him with a minority, female, "non-blue-blood" freshman senator is going to improve things how?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:53 AM on May 21, 2008


We're also proud that we were the first state/commonwealth to permit gay marriage, we recently elected our first black governor (the third black governor in United States history), etc.
posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on May 21, 2008


If Ted Kennedy asked taxpayer-paid aides to babysit his kids, he'd be excoriated.

Um, anyone who's spent much time around the Hill has seen Ted's taxpayer-paid aides walking his black poodles (the ones I talked about above) during work hours, no less. I'm not sure your example is one you want to push too hard.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:03 AM on May 21, 2008


Hey Pollomacho -- better than paying to have the rugs cleaned! ;)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:25 AM on May 21, 2008


The fact that there was no chance of a woman or minority or anyone else to occupy that seat for the last 40 plus years is something the people of Massachusetts should be ashamed of.

Translation: the fact that Ted Kennedy is white and male is something the people of Massachusetts be ashamed of.
posted by oaf at 9:42 AM on May 21, 2008


Savage Mocks Robert Byrd’s Tears for Ted Kennedy: We Should ‘Send In Orderlies In White Coats’ To ‘Remove The Old Man’
"And if you think that we have a bunch of senile old coots running Congress, what I’m about to play for you will confirm your worst fears.

...I’m asking you, would a sane nation permit a senile senator to hold his seat? You gently send in orderlies in white coats, and they gently remove the old man, and they put him in a chair — strap him in — in the Senate retirement home, and wheel him over next to a curtain facing a nice outdoor window, and three times a day they feed it. "
Classy. Real Classy.
posted by ericb at 11:55 AM on May 21, 2008


So, Michael Savage, what about that other "old coot," the late Strom Thurmond?

Oh that's right:
"... in Michael Savage’s view, Trent Lott’s endorsement of Strom Thurmond’s 1948 overtly pro-Jim Crow Dixiecrat presidential candidacy were 'innocent comments' [and] that the members of the Congressional Black Caucus who voiced opposition to the comments were 'a lynch mob' -- even though it was Thurmond’s campaign that opposed anti-lynching laws."*
posted by ericb at 12:02 PM on May 21, 2008


.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:31 PM on May 21, 2008


I wouldn't wish a malignant brain tumor on anyone. With the possible exception, perhaps, of Michael Savage.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:30 PM on May 21, 2008


You're presuming, M.C. Lo-Carb!, that Savage doesn't already have one. It would explain so much.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:49 AM on May 22, 2008


You're presuming, M.C. Lo-Carb!, that Savage doesn't already have one. It would explain so much.

And you're presuming, bitter-girl.com, that Savage isn't himself a malignant tumor.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:03 AM on May 22, 2008


Send us a woman please. Preferrably one without blue blood.

Ted Kennedy has made clear to confidants that when his time is up, he wants his Senate seat to stay in the family - with his wife, Vicki.

Baby steps!
posted by aqhong at 10:15 AM on May 22, 2008


Dead Kennedys singer responds to Savage: How the hell does he get away with stuff like this?
"But the bigger issue is Savage himself and how the hell he gets away with stuff like saying this, and saying that people with AIDS should be put in concentration camps. And then when people protest at the station, he calls on his own listeners to come down and beat them up."
posted by ericb at 2:34 PM on May 23, 2008


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