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

Good news about Ted Kennedy?

Yes, according to Reportedly his seizure today was brought on by simple exhaustion.

Meanwhile, the Charleston Gazette reports that Robert Byrd, initially thought to have taken ill as well, left the luncheon because he was upset about Kennedy’s collapse.

Kennedy’s health scare is a serious down note on an otherwise glorious day. Media Nation extends its best wishes to the senator and his family.

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The 44th president of the United States


Obama and the right


  1. O-FISH-L

    Massachusetts Democrat leader Dr. John R. Silber was right when he referenced Shakespeare in 1990. “Ripeness is all. When you’ve had a long life and you’re ripe, then it’s time to go.” Both Byrd and Kennedy would do well to read King Lear.

  2. Ani

    I am glad that Sen. Kennedy was able to attend Obama’s inauguration and sorry that he suffered a seizure at the luncheon. And I thought that Obama and others did well in dealing with it. But some of the media coverage I thought was inappropriate — too much, too maudlin — I found myself yelling at the TV, “He’s not dead yet,” to paraphrase Monty Python.

  3. mike_b1

    Silber would do well to read Lear himself. He’s made a mockery of BU, his personal fiefdom.

  4. O'Reilly

    Dan, good scoop on Byrd. How did you come to be reading the Charleston Gazette? Anyway, your report set me straight. O-Fish-L, Probably the best thing for me to do is ignore you but I wrote it, so here you go: Just because you don’t like Byrd and Kennedy is no reason to fop off your pseudo-intellectual, literary referenced, political digs. All we ever hear out of you is ad hominem. Carolyn hates Jews, Byrd and Kennedy are “ripe” and it’s time to go. You don’t have the courage to write about people you admire and why. You’re cynical, jaded jackass. Byrd stood alone (or almost alone) voting against war in Iraq. He also stood up for the Constitution while Bush was shredding it. Kennedy has done more productive legislating than any other active Senator. He also has a brain tumor that will kill him and yet, he still spends his time working on the legislative agenda.You’re like a wretched fart in good company.

  5. NewsHound

    Cancer is such a horrible illness. I suspect that medically speaking the Senator should not be attending such functions due to weakened immune from treatment, and other reasons. But, this is his life and I suspect he doesn’t want his illness to rob him of living it while alive and somewhat able to attend, especially yesterday’s most momentous occasion. If I’d had the opportunity I would have loved to have been at the luncheon myself.There are so many young children at Children’s Hospital suffering from brain cancer, many of whom will not survive to grow into the opportunity of adulthood and yet I am with family and friends every day who are much older than the Senator, some very active in their 90s. I’m saddened to learn of anyone robbed for their freedom and well being after being stricken with cancer, and that includes Senator Kennedy, irrespective of whether or not he had done anything in his life to distinguish himself.I think Senator Byrd is a deep thinking person with tremendous wisdom and yet, perhaps because of his age, is becoming more fragile and less durable to shrug off meaningful disappointments, even though he knows they are unavoidable.

  6. The Arranger

    You know you’re old if you remember that Byrd ousted Kennedy as majority whip in 1970.How many people through about the “torch has been passed” passage of 48 years ago upon hearing both Kennedy and Byrd fell ill during inauguration events?One wonders: How close is O-FISH-L to being banned? First Pesky, now Byrd and Kennedy. I thought conservatives were the ones who believed in traditional values such as respect for elders.Bob in Peabody

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Bob: Fish is quite sane in private e-mail exchanges. I don’t want to goad him, but, though I don’t doubt that he’s a conservative, there seems to be more than a little bit of performance art in his online comments.

  8. Peter Porcupine

    DK – I’ve had seizures over 40 years. And I am the one least affected by it.I’ve never seen a seizure – family and friends tell me they are graphic and disturbing. I really feel worst for Sen. Byrd in this incident.The seizure victim is actually OK after a nap. Note to public – do NOT try to force something into the mouth, as the seized muscles are stronger than bone and you can break a jaw. Most seizure victims know to put some fabric – jacket or something – between their teeth to prevent biting. You cannot swallow our tongue – it’s attached. You can try to slightly elevate the back of the neck so the head tilts back, to keep airway clear, but don’t try to force anything.I’ve been told that the worst thing is the helplessness that onlookers feel. They really can’t do anything but keep you from bumping yourself, breaking the furniture, etc. – but they FEEL like they should be doing something. You can only wait for the seizure to pass.My only qualm for the Senator, since I assume he’s on Dilantin or some other anti-convulsant, is that the seizure may represent growth of the tumor which they weren’t able to remove, afflicting the brain once again. That could indicate a serious problem.

  9. O-FISH-L

    To O’Reilly and the Arranger, what do you think this is, “The Blog in the Plastic Bubble?” Thankfully Dan doesn’t try to operate the blog free from “germs” who might have an opinion different from your own. O’Reilly, I merely agreed with what your 1990 Democrat gubernatorial nominee had to say about old people. In a discussion about age, are we supposed to forget that he said it?Arranger, my opinion is that only Hall of Famers be honored with the retirement of their number. Believe it or not, some good people agree with me. I understand, but disagree with those who think an exception should be made for Pesky.History is full of people who stayed at something too long. As for all three of them, they are at or beyond the age when a son or daughter would have to have “the talk” with them about giving up the license and car keys, pedal error, living alone, etc. Yet Byrd and Kennedy remain two of the most powerful men in the country. Is this a good thing? I don’t think so. If it makes you feel better I’ll say that the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) didn’t belong there in the end either. As for Pesky, MLB has already acted out of concern for his safety, banning him from the dugout and field during games and workouts. Again, no hatred on my end and even some good people (bad coach) agree.“I think his time has come,” Grady Little said. “When you get to the age of Johnny Pesky, his reaction time is not like it used to be, so you’re concerned with Johnny’s health — not only in the dugout during the game, but also during the workouts when he’s out on the field. It’s a tough situation, but I’m going to have to agree with Major League Baseball.”

  10. O-FISH-L

    ps – Arranger, I do have to tip my cap to you for your swift action. Obama hasn’t even been in there 24 hours and you already want to ban unpopular speech. And they say it was Bush who trampled the Constitution? Classic.

  11. The Arranger

    O-FISH-L, Silber’s comment about “ripeness” did not relate to retirement, it related to dying, or, more specifically, rationed health care. The quote came after he said he would not want state government paying for a heart transplant for an 80-year-old.In that context, your statement scans that Byrd and Kennedy should die, not retire.And you have somehow conflated arguments over whether the Red Sox should have retired Johnny Pesky’s number with arguments over whether Johnny Pesky should have been allowed on the field at an advanced age.I don’t want a ban on people who have opinions that disagree with mine. But your citation of Silber channeling Edgar was at best ill-chosen, and at worst in horrible taste.As Lear said, you would do well to “mend your speech a little, lest you may mar your fortunes.”Bob in Peabody

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: If only Grady Little had been as quick to give Pedro the hook.

  13. The Arranger

    O-FISH-L: As close readers of the Constitution know, the First Amendment bans Congress (and by extension government) from banning speech. Dan as a private citizen has the right to accept or reject any post to his blog as he chooses.Apparently, you’re now interpreting the First Amendment more broadly than anyone has in the past. And I always figured you to be a strict constructionist.Also note that I did not urge Dan to bar your posts, I merely wondered how close you are coming to being banned.Bob in Peabody

  14. io saturnalia!

    Fish and Arrange: Why don’t you two just make out, already. It’s getting to be like watching the first season of “Moonlighting” around here.

  15. Tim

    My cousin was diagnosed with a brain tumor the same day that Kennedy was. He died in November, the day before his 45th birthday.Brain tumors are almost always deadly. It’s a horrible way to go. Ted has already beaten the odds by working and being productive up until now. Ted has handled himself with remarkable courage, grace, and aplomb in the face of it. Regardless of your politics you have to admire him for it. Cheap shots made from behind the veil of the anonymity afforded by the blogosphere provide a window’s view of the shooter’s inner world, and it ain’t pretty.Not that I don’t have some unpretty thoughts myself sometimes.

  16. O-FISH-L

    The Arranger wrote, “As Lear said, you would do well to “mend your speech a little, lest you may mar your fortunes.”—-My fortune is already secure, that’s what allows me to speak unmended, if you will. Thanks for your concern though.If Dr. Silber wanted sick elders “to go” to their death, I only want them “to go” to retirement, although you raise a good point about Silber not wanting to pour money into health care for terminally ill elderly. At what point does the Ted Kennedy side show become untenable and when does it become risky to others? If I read correctly, the paramedics and ambulance reserved for a catastrophic incident involving Obama were the ones commandeered to transport Kennedy. I’m sure Obama offered it up graciously, but what if the ambulance and trained crew were then needed for their original purpose and were gone? Of course it’s somehow hate speech to even raise that contingency as an issue.Kennedy’s efforts to stay relevant are touching, but at some point, enough is enough.

  17. lkcape

    The fragility of both Senators Byrd and Kennedy underscore just how much their Senatorial staffs influence the process. While both surely oversee their offices, it is unlikely that they have the true control and are actually representing their constituents.I voted for a Senator to represent me, not for a Senator’s staff.No way these two can confidently say that they are in control of their offices.

  18. mike_b1

    Fish, you’re living in the past. In Mass. Dem party circles, Silber doesn’t even merit a footnote.And it was you complaining in another thread about citizens who were invoking their right to free speech during the inauguration. Which side you on, Flip?

  19. mike_b1

    lkcape: Spend 15 minutes on the Hill, and you will realize that the staffs (which are by and large very small — an LD, an LA, and maybe one other) take care of everything. You can’t get an appointment with a Senator. And you’d unlikely, unless you are part of a group lobby or the head of a company in the district, to get time with your Representative. Their staffs are trusted extensions of themselves, and often better versed on the issues than the Congressmen themselves. Dismiss them at your peril.

  20. NewsHound

    I applaud older people for what they can and will do, sometimes. There are so many older people who seem to give in too early. I was with a friend this morning who graduated from Harvard more than 70 years ago. He is in his 90s and still goes to college, plays squash and has a lot of wisdom that he shares with me for which I am grateful.Senator Kennedy isn’t even 80 and 70s is still young. A brain tumor almost certainly defines how much longer someone is going to live. And, most certainly, he did not anticipate a medical situation yesterday. There is a time to retire, though. Years ago the selectmen in my town asked the police chief’s children if their father should retire. They agreed he should as he was 76. On a Sunday night the chief and his wife went out to dinner with neighbors and upon arriving at the restaurant noticed a lot of familiar cars. He found out he was retiring at his testimonial. I know someone who had heart bypass surgery and a replacement valve at age 86 with almost immediate recovery and as a result has been able to care for an elderly spouse for a few years, thus avoiding the cost of a nursing home for both which perhaps more than pays for the cost of the surgery, aside from the enjoyment of the quality of life.I can understand how hard it is for Senators Byrd and Kennedy to step aside because they didn’t retire earlier when they probably should have, and now they probably fear abandoning what has in some ways been their life support. And they certainly do offer a lot of experience and wisdom. But, considering Senator Byrd’s age, and Senator Kennedy’s health, they should unselfishly step aside.

  21. Ani

    I have a lot of sympathy for people with cancer trying to live as normal a life as possible, even when it may look odd to outsiders. Part of it may be the difficulty of getting the mind around a difficult scenario. I know my late husband wondered how he would travel for business with drains in his liver, which probably seemed like a ludicrous question to his doctors (and since he died fairly quickly, at age 46, 7 weeks after his cancer diagnosis and 6 weeks after the drains became necessary, that question never got answered). And he looked like hell when he went to our son’s performance in a local theater production, and I’m sure people thought he was nuts for going. But it’s a difficult process, Fish. At my husband’s funeral, a friend of my son’s collapsed, and yes, it’s difficult when there are medical emergencies during ceremonial occasions, but we get through them. I wouldn’t want to live in an artificially sanitized world.

  22. NewsHound

    Cancer is so terrible at any age. It is so difficult for the person stricken along with friends and family. Fortunately, there was an ambulance at the luncheon that should have, as it was, used for anyone who was in such need.At least we can’t complain about Senator Byrd taking early retirement.

  23. NewsHound

    Ani, what you wrote is very touching and meaningful.

  24. Ani

    Thank you, NewsHound.May I add here that my husband died a registered Republican. Part of his reason for joining was that he thought he could have more of an impact through a party with smaller numbers (in this state).

  25. O'Reilly

    Dan’s post is on the topic of Kennedy’s seizure and unless you’re living under a rock you would know the cause, lethal brain cancer. Byrd was shaken by watching his friend in distress. Your post about how they both should go seemed strikingly insensitive to the topic, their health. Your post was partisan and exploitative of the main topic. You made no argument about diminished capacity by connecting health limitations to their work obligation, you just argued that they’re old and should go. Fuck you. You’re a jackass and you should go.Bob: Fish is quite sane in private e-mail exchanges. I don’t want to goad him, but, though I don’t doubt that he’s a conservative, there seems to be more than a little bit of performance art in his online comments.OFISHL’s sanity and performance art aside, what concerns you about goading and commenter whose every other comment is goad? His wife stopped listening to him years ago. I ask, as a thought experiment, why should we have to?

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