August 26th, 2009
11:57 AM ET

Ted Kennedy a true believer

Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

In one of the funniest scenes in the film "The Big Lebowski," the hot-headed Vietnam veteran Walter Sobchak, played by John Goodman, explains to the Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, how much he hates nihilists because they don't believe in anything, they have no "ethos."

Unfortunately, many Americans share these sentiments about our politicians. Too often, the political system seems biased toward elected officials who only care about re-election. Politicians are eager to please interest groups who contribute to their campaign funds and activist organizations who will deliver the vote.

Americans suspect that a majority of politicians are willing to switch their position on any given day, depending on which way the political winds are blowing. Everyone, we sometimes fear, is a flip-flopper.

This was certainly not the case with Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy. He was a refreshing presence in Washington for many Americans, even those on the right who hated the political ideas that he championed. Love him or hate him, as Walter Sobchak might say, at least Kennedy stood for something.

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Felix Sancez from Los Angeles,CA

    There is no one that will be like a man like him the Kennedy Dynasty will live on with the American people and the Youth of tomorrow.

    August 26, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  2. Martina Ilstad Germany

    As a German i know Sen.Ted Kennedy as a verry true beliver,and not as a dreamer,that maybe is the big difference between him and other politicals.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    A true believer – a good point. I wouldn't have thought of putting it that way but it fits. Kennedy stayed true to his course on land in the Senate just as he must have stayed true to his course when he went out on his boat. You always knew where Kennedy stood on the issues of the day and you could always count on him to back it up to the very end of he debates. While he never got to be President he accomplished more as a Senator in 40 years than most Presidents do in 8 years. Ted Kennedy was one of a kind in the Senate – I hope his influence and his firmness of his convictions rubbed off on some of his colleagues – we need more like him in our government to keep us on course and to have some compassion for those who are not as well off as others.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  4. Michael C. McHugh

    It's too bad that he fell ill at this moment, when the Dems needed his leadership most in the Senate. There seems to be no one to take his place. Obama is too wobbly to get it any of it done, although he at least tried. Kennedy might have been able to do it, but for some reason, bad luck seems to haunt that whole family.

    August 26, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  5. Joe G. (Illinois)

    He was a Liberal Democrat.. Up an until his death..! How much have the American morals and family values downgraded by the stubborn and hard core politicians like him..? Or is the downfall to be blamed to the Conservatives Republicans? Somebody turn on the radio.. Just walk down any street!!

    August 26, 2009 at 11:58 am |