Over at the Private Intellectual, Ben Dueholm mentions a Ted Kennedy cameo from one of my favorite books – maybe the best work of long-form journalism, ever – and concludes:

“Imagine it. Here was a man quite understandably haunted by the specter of assassination daring to stand up to a hate-filled crowd, and on behalf of racial justice. How many of our ashen time-servers in today’s U.S. Senate would dare such a thing? How about Kennedy’s own rough contemporaries, people like George Bush (either one) and Dick Cheney? Say what you will about Chappaquiddick and anything else, this took both moral and physical courage that was not in abundance either then or now.”

It’s eerily like Kennedy’s appearance with Jane Byrne in 1980.

As creepy as it is seeing fringe political types hauling assault rifles to political events, I can’t help but think progress has been made – and where it hasn’t, perhaps the people who would show up to throw things at a Kennedy, or an MLK, now mostly haunt online comment sections.

For more critical writings about Ted Kennedy, I recommend The Kennedy Imprisonment by Evanston resident and national treasure Garry Wills (as a liberal Catholic, he comes at it from an interesting angle) and the late Michael Kelly’s compelling GQ profile.