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Ted Kennedy’s unrivalled legacy

HERE is what the late Senator Ted Kennedy said in the days before the vote to give George Bush the authority to invade Iraq: “It is wrong for Congress to declare war against Iraq now before we have exhausted the alternatives. And it is wrong to divert our attention now from the greater and more immediate threat of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida terrorism.

We cannot go it alone on Iraq and expect our allies to support us. We cannot go it alone and expect the world to stand with us in the urgent and ongoing war against terrorism and Al-Qaida.”

How those words ring so horribly prophetic.

I am not going to defend Senator Kennedy as his shortcomings are well known and I am not going to defend his actions in Chappaquidick.

But your columnist Steven King does not even mention Iraq in his column about the late senator (September 3).

Why would one leave out possibly the biggest foreign policy disaster in US history?

Senator Kennedy was one of only 23 senators to vote not to authorise President George W Bush to invade a sovereign country.

Hillary Clinton and John Kerry both voted to grant that authority — decisions they both came to regret and decisions that may have cost them both the White House. But without hindsight Ted Kennedy saw the truth. Steven King also glosses over some other small facts.

He mentions the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed segregation. Just a minor accomplishment. Nothing like ending apartheid in South Africa.

Kennedy fought and defeated the Reagan administration in its attempt to weaken the Voting Rights Act.

It was only the poorest and neediest who were not going to be able to vote.

Kennedy opposed the Vietnam war. He provided health cover for children and the disabled.

To my knowledge there has never been a senator who can claim such a legacy of caring for the needy. He also fought tirelessly for veterans’ care and benefits.

As President Obama said at Kennedy’s funeral, a lesser man could have just dropped out of the public eye and not have to face his own failings.

But whether Mr King wants to believe it of not, Kennedy did the best he could to finish the job started by his two brothers who were both gunned down so publicly.

The US is so much better off for having had Ted Kennedy.

John Fenton

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