By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Thoughts on Ted Kennedy’s illness

In my latest for the Guardian, I try to explain what it’s like for Ted Kennedy to be one of our senators rather than a world and national symbol — and how it feels to be preparing for his passing.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Ted Kennedy has brain cancer


Ready, aim, fire(d)


  1. Brian F.

    While I hate to speak ill of a condemned man (and I wish him well), I respectfully disagree with your thesis. While many on the left and in the media admire Sen. Kennedy, many rank and file citizens are not fans. Whenever his name comes up at family parties or social settings, the typical reaction is “When is he going to retire?”

  2. BosPhotog

    Dan, Do you think that we will have a repeat of the Ronald Reagan situation? That is, when Ted’s time comes, and I hope not for a hundred years, Republicans will bury the hatchet and have a new appreciation for the man similar to the outpouring that many Democrats showed to Reagan??? After reading many of the local blogs today, sadly I doubt it.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    bosphotog: It took George W. Bush to make us appreciate Ronald Reagan. What would be analogous to that?

  4. BosPhotog

    Dan: Ha ha. Yes, I see your point.Nice Guardian article by the way.

  5. Peter Porcupine

    DK – What would be analogous? Maybe…President Obama?

  6. Eoin

    Your piece is currently a lurker on the Guardian’s homepage:Dan Kennedy: The last brotherI wonder how many readers abroad (who may not be familiar with the family) will think that the piece was written by one of Ted’s siblings!

  7. denise

    Well done and thanks, Dan.There’s not much to say at this point because the future is yet writ, but courtesy of CSPAN we’ve watched many of the Senator’s speeches. One particularly impressive speech was in opposition to the Alito appointment that threatens to turn back the clock and undo much hard fought legislation.While some might criticize the conduct of the Senator’s personal life, much can be said in defense of his voting record that regrettably many ignored.

  8. Mickey

    great writing, Dan. Ted Kennedy is one of the last national figures who gets angry, loud, and doesn’t apologize for trying to get his constituents the funding and support they need. I think that’s what I love the most about Ted Kennedy. For all the warts he has, I’m not sure MA folks will fully appreciate Teddy until he’s no longer fighting for them.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Eoin: Good grief. I know. I pointed it out to them, they acknowledged the problem, but they didn’t fix it. Well, maybe it drove traffic. “Oh, you mean there’s another Kennedy?”

  10. Dan Storms

    In an utterly predictable and not close to clever move, radio talk thug Michael Savage played “California uber Alles” by the Dead Kennedys as a “tribute” to the senator. But it’s we dirty hippie liberals who have ruined polite and reasoned discourse (not to mention god, the flag, and mom’s apple pie) in this country.

  11. Anonymous

    Nice article, Dan. Very well said, and I believe it represents the vast majority of opinion in Massachusetts and the country. The only people who buy the bogeyman stuff are the deluded dolts who can’t see that it’s all just cooked up for fundraising purposes, and to drive talk radio ratings. In DC, Ted easily works both sides of the aisle and is nearly universally beloved. Of course, it cuts both ways. The Dems do their own vilifying. Ronald Reagan, as someone pointed out, was one such example of a Republican who was nearly universally liked, but was used as a fundraising bogeyman. The idea that his image needed reviving was ridiculous. He was always well respected by those in power. Ted Stevens is another example of the same thing. For all the bridge to nowhere crap, he’s better liked and respected by the average Democratic senator than many of their own party.But where’s the theater in that?

  12. Anonymous

    Has there been a more significant American legislator in the past 45 years? In the 19th century, we had the Great Triumvirate. Who were the most significant legislators of the 20th century? Joseph Cannon? LBJ? LaFollette Sr? Lodge Sr? Humphrey? Richard Russell?Bob in Peabody

  13. Anonymous

    Well put, Anon10:44. Imagine the rush of conflicting emotions being experienced by Joan right now. Perhaps we should hold a good thought for her as well. She never signed up for a lot of the grief she ended up taking.

  14. dee

    all i know is that if people and commentators cant say anything nice about Ted Kennedy, that is be quiet….I mean quiet….The guy has a terminal illness and we should pray for him, not cut him up. God Forgive You. Someday you will have to answer to the Lord for your negative comments.

  15. Leslie H.

    I lived for 20 years in MA – from 1980 – 2000, so he was my senator the whole time. Since then I have lived in AK, NM, MI, and TX. I can tell you that the fact that the message in your article doesn’t just can’t be heard outside MA. I have discussed him, one way or another, in every other state I’ve lived in and nobody ever believed me that in MA he is seen as the excellent, productive senator that he is. They can’t get past the legendary little brother, bad boy stuff. I fear it’s like Strom Thurmond and South Carolina — he just didn’t translate outside the borders of his state.Leslie

  16. mike_b1

    Dan, I’ve been reading the writeups on Kennedy’s surgery in various places. The reporters are burying the lede. How Kennedy feels post-op is meaningless, no matter how much the press wants to accentuate the positive. The story — the only story — is his prognosis: basically, a 75% chance or higher of death within 24 months. That, plus the extensive radiation, chemo and per various places “new treatment” regimens, suggests Kennedy is unlikely to survive. Also, the decision to choose Duke may have had more to do with the standard “seek a second opinion” and that MGH felt surgery was not in the patient’s interests than the spin about “a personal connection with the charismatic Dr. Allan H. Friedman.”Finally, and it takes an expert to recognize this (my wife is one), the reporters are missing that the section of Kennedy’s brain in which the tumor was found holds extensive keys to basic functions. He may remember his name and how to speak — indeed, it’s likely the surgical team deliberately avoided cutting those sections — but he may no longer be able to add 2+2, and could well have the attention span of a gnat. Those are the difficult but crucial questions to ask now.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén