After death, Kennedy’s words still ring in healthcare debate
Two weeks after his death, Senator Edward Kennedy’s words on healthcare rang out before a joint session of Congress when President Barack Obama quoted from a letter that he received from the liberal Democrat posthumously.
Obama in seeking to turn public opinion his way in a primetime speech to Congress referred to Kennedy’s letter before an audience that included the late senator’s widow, Vicki, and two sons. The White House released it publicly after the president’s address.
The letter was written in May shortly after Kennedy was told that the brain cancer he was battling was terminal. The senator called healthcare reform “the cause of my life” and said he was optimistic that it would be achieved.
“When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society,” Kennedy wrote to Obama.
The senator also made a comparison to when his brother, John F. Kennedy, was president.
“I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world,” Kennedy wrote. “It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Obama at start of healthcare speech); Reuters/Larry Downing (Vicki Kennedy and Michelle Obama at president’s healthcare speech to Congress)