An Example Sorely Lacking
Great leaders don't just care about their work and their causes; they also care about their families. They rise to the occasion when their families need them. After his brothers John and Robert were killed, Ted Kennedy looked after their children as if they were his own. He became the patriarch of the entire family. Just think of all the times we saw him in public with one of his nieces and nephews, as when he walked Caroline Kennedy down the aisle at her wedding.
On the professional side, his accomplishments during a 47-year career in the U.S. Senate are enormous, especially on health care, education, social justice, immigration, and other crucial issues. He championed the causes of people who had no hope, and spoke for those who had no voice. He came from a very wealthy family, but he took up the concerns of the poor and the common people. To come from such privilege and yet have so much sensitivity to other people's pain demonstrates phenomenal leadership.
Ted Kennedy also showed he was a great leader when he would cross the divide between the two political parties in order to advance a good cause. He wasn't averse to working with Dan Quayle, Orrin Hatch, John McCain, George W. Bush, and other Republicans when the goal was a piece of legislation that would help the country. This is particularly commendable when you consider how poisonous our political environment has become in the past 10 or 15 years. Kennedy's ability, even his willingness, to collaborate with members of the opposing party set an example that is sorely lacking in Washington today.
Of course, he was flawed. By his own public admission, he was a man who had problems. But a great leader is able to recognize and acknowledge his imperfections. To Ted Kennedy's credit, he overcame his personal failings and left a lasting mark through his body of work as a senator, his devotion to his family, his commitment to the nation, and his championing of good causes.
Posted by: jama452 | September 2, 2009 7:47 AM
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