The Senior Senator
By Michael Scanlon, Contributor
October / November 2000
If you ask his fellow senators – liberals or conservatives – who’s on their list of the hardest-working and best senators, Edward Kennedy’s name is always there. Throughout his tenure he has defended the poor, elderly, and handicapped of the country, and any significant legislation affecting these groups in the areas of education, jobs, housing, or healthcare is sure to have his stamp. He has also tirelessly championed the cause of Ireland, working, often behind the scenes, to promote peace in Northern Ireland.
There is an inherent kind of warmth and enjoyment of people that the Irish have. You know, it is often said that the English wrote the English language but the Irish taught them how to use it. The Irish have this love for literature and music and these, combined with an emphasis on family and a devotion to freedom in their history, are pretty fundamental ingredients that go into political life. But there’s another part to this, too. The Irish came to politics out of necessity in earlier generations. They saw it as a way of moving upwards and achieving their hopes and aspirations. And the Irish have done that well.
I’ll always remember when Jack came back from his trip to Ireland. He really loved that trip. And he loved the film they made of the trip. And when the whole family was up on the Cape for a weekend, he insisted on showing the film in each of three homes. The first night everyone went to see it at his house. Then the next night he showed the film at Bob’s house. Fewer people came this second time. Then on the third night, he showed it again at my home and there were just the two of us – me and him – sitting there watching it alone. He loved that film of his trip to Ireland each time he saw it…and so did I. – May 1991 ♦