The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy will cost the United States not just a passionate voice for economic and racial justice, but also its irreplaceable champion of a liberal, less belligerent, humanistic foreign policy.
Step back to Friday, October 11, 2002, when only 23 U.S. senators voted against the resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq.
The anger and fear spurred by the 9/11 attacks was too raw, and Democrats named Clinton, Kerry, Biden and Edwards, nursing ambition, dared not look “soft” on terrorism. Election Day was just weeks away. The two Democratic leaders — Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. Dick Gephardt — gave Bush the green light for war. Kennedy’s pal, Sen. Chris Dodd, voted “yes.” Even Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the Democrat from Rhode Island, voted for war.
But not Patrick’s dad. Not Ted.
In what seemed, at the time, a quixotic performance, Ted Kennedy returned to the Senate floor time and again, warning Americans and his fellow senators of the catastrophe ahead. His prestige gave cover to other Democrats, and the number of “no” votes doubled, then tripled.