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August 28th, 2009
01:30 PM ET

Kennedy a worker, not a playboy

Former Kennedy aide Burton Wides says the senator had a zest for politics and an appetite for hard work.

Former Kennedy aide Burton Wides says the senator had a zest for politics and an appetite for hard work.

Burton Wides
Special to CNN

For half a century, Ted Kennedy was the most prolific senator on the political scene, making major strides in civil rights, civil liberties, education, human rights abroad, arms control, good government and of course health care.

You name it, he was there - and in the lead. To some tabloid readers, he was largely a spoiled Kennedy playboy. To his colleagues and staff who watched him up close year after year, and to millions of Americans who saw him fighting on so many fronts, he was a committed champion of equality, justice, peace and protection of those in need.

How did he do it? With incredibly long hours, amazing energy and hard work, coupled with a zest for politics - in the best sense - and legendary legislative mastery acquired over the years. His staff knew that when he was starting an initiative, his first priority instinctively was to win over as staunch a conservative as he could find to be his partner and original co-sponsor. It worked so many times.

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Filed under: Sen. Ted Kennedy
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Terry, TX

    Teddy was a murderer .....he killed Mary Jo when he was drunk driving....he climbed out of the water.....ran to the family, lawyers and got sober.....then advised the police that Mary Jo was at the bottom of the water the next day.....paid off the family. No remorse.....because he spent the rest of his life as an alcoholic....the democratic party never felt he was good enough to be president.....now they want to hail him as some sort of political icon.....crappola. Mary Jo will block his entrance to the pearly gates and boot him in the other direction.

    The only fine example he left....is to prove to Americans we need term limits.

    August 28, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Yes, Ted was driving drunk when Mary Jo drowned. Ted almost died as well and while he did drink a lot during this time period he was still psychologically getting over the murder of RFK so the drink and his psychological state probably did not help him make good choices that night. The one thing that always strikes me though is the lack of responsibility alloted to Mary Jo herself in her accidental death – she knew Ted was drunk. She had worked in RFK's campaign where Ted was a fixture and it wasn't any secret in the whole country or that campaign that Ted drank too much.

    That night that Mary Jo died, she CHOSE to get in that car with a drunken driver. She was not forced. When the ride ended in an accident and in the water where she drowned, Ted tried to find her and rescue her but was not able to; in the dark cold waters that would have been a difficult thing to do. Her death was an accident – Ted never forgot it and probably felt as bad about it as you would wish he would. Ted atoned for this accident and her death for the rest of his life – what happened to forgiveness – isn't that taught in your Christian churches anymore? Try it – the man is dead and he did do a lot of good for a lot of people in this country.

    August 28, 2009 at 8:35 pm |
  3. Olga Hermann

    I'm glad to see the comments reflect true feelings about Senator Kennedy. I wouldn't normally write against the dead, but our Media has turned him into a hero and a Saint. After leaving a young pretty single woman to drown, which should have sent him to prison, he was instead reelected as State Senator even to run for President. This sparked America into a pitfall of domestic violence against women, since he became the shining example. But his reign of terror didn't end with women, he next went after children and became the greatest proponent of Abortion, even the barbaric Partial birth, sticking scissors into a babies brain and sucking it out after the baby is completely delivered except for the head. How convenient for a playboy's sexual ploys. It's time America stopped calling good evil and evil good even when the truth hurts.

    August 28, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  4. Jen, NYC

    So many negative comments about Ted Kennedy. Yes, one "bad" thing can outweigh a lot of "good", but let's not forget that Chappaquiddick was an accident (drunk driving is unfortunately a widespread phenomenon, and he almost died himself), and that Sen. Kennedy went on to do a lot of good for society, or at least tried to. This was a man who went through a lot of suffering and personal tragedy. Wouldn't the christian thing be to forgive him?

    August 28, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  5. Jan

    @6ftrabbit - sorry but Teddy did run for president in 1980. He challenged Carter, but lost due to the people wanting to know "Where's Mary Jo?"

    I guess people forgot that in 1991 it was Teddy who took his son and nephew out drinking in Palm Beach, FL. They brought a couple of women back to the Kennedy estate. That led to Ted's nephew (Wiliam Kennedy Smith) being accused of rape. Uncle Teddy had to testify at his trial.

    These aren't tabloid stories. These stories weren't fabricated. These are part of Ted Kennedy's past.

    August 28, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  6. Mary Jo

    I remember the event well.
    To say Ted wasn't a playboy is crazy. I am so looking forward to seeing him again, and seeing him get what he deserves.
    It's been a long time waiting, but there is justice in the end.
    Mary Jo

    August 28, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  7. Ronnie HUNTER

    Ted Kennedy was a drunk and a womanizer. He was too drunk to save the women that he drownded and only the Kennedy bribes to the police kept him out of jail. He should have died in prison. If you want to protect a man that let a woman drown and abused women and was so brain dead form drinking that you couldn't understand hime then you need to look in the mirror and ask yoursel a question. Do I care about this country? Do I care about the ConstitutioN? I will guess you canot honestly answer yes if you understand we are a Republic and not a Democracy. I f you are a fan of Democracy please move to another country because this Republic is getting ready to re-establish itself and you will be in the way.

    August 28, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  8. Rita G.

    Dear Anderson Cooper,
    I always feel sorry when somebody passes away but I still don't want Healthcare Reform. If you feel sad for the loss of Kennedy I suggest you spend your money and buy him a wreath. Thats what we do when we lose somebody.

    Rita Gonzales and Bill Galvin

    August 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  9. lampe

    Sometimes, when you do one BAD thing, it alone out ways all the GOOD you try to do.

    August 28, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  10. 6ftrabbit

    Ever wonder why Ted never ran for Pres? Because he knew he'd get whacked like his brothers. Wonder how I know? Because I was on duty and heard the shot from a block away that killed King, and had meet 2 of the guys in the white Mustang getaway car, a couple weeks earlier, that went up the back roads to Millington airport from downtown Memphis. That was not a "Lone Gunman" hit. And if you think JFK's assassination was a " Lone Gunman", y'all need to do a little homework. Ditto Bobby. Look into the Kennedy family history.

    Personally, I don't miss any of them.

    August 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  11. Bob Larson

    I think the tragedy here concerning Ted Kennedy's death is he had to die in order to get him out of office!

    August 28, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  12. Amber

    Even so, how does accomplishing things in the government make up for the Chappaquiddick incident??? How do these people in the public eye (pardon the pun) get away with murder and get into the US Senate for goodness sakes??!! Talk about bass-ackwards!
    Money helped the Kennedy clan keep everything that ever went on hush, hush.
    Why do Americans forget so easily? If he would run a girl he LIKE off a bridge, what would he do to us, who he doesn't even KNOW????? so scary. I know everyone has their own personal flaws; but when things are of this stature are done and gotten away with, people see it and think: "Oh, if he can get away with it, so can we." So much for good role models. And people wonder why America has been going to pot for the last 50+ years....

    August 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  13. Bob Larson

    Ted Kennedy was an incredible human being. He inspired so many other men to drown their girlfriends and taught them how to get away with it.

    August 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  14. JC- Los Angeles

    Not a playboy? Head to the Old Ebbit Grill and ask around about Kennedy and Christopher Countrywide Dodd then come back and update your story.

    August 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm |