During various Democratic primary campaigns over the years, in California, Nevada, New Hampshire and many, many times in Iowa have been to rallies that featured Ted Kennedy. And unless you've been to one of these shindigs, it's hard to imagine just how stunningly popular Kennedy remained among the Democratic base. I don't care where the venue was, or who the candidate was he was backing, Teddy was the Main Event. Not an overstatement to say, right up through the Obama campaign, the "Liberal Lion" was a true political rock star. The first few times I saw the electric response he evoked among the party faithful, I was sort of taken back. But the magic was real. Kennedy, in his elder years and chubbier than ever, would amble up to the stage and unfailingly, unleash a red meat tirade, an old-fashioned barn burner than would set the crowd ablaze as he leaned on the podium, sweated like no tomorrow and turned beet red as he continued to thunder. Anyone who underestimates the mystique of the Kennedy name fails to understand the soul of your average Democrat.And from Matt Welch:
Having spent most of my adult life around liberals, not conservatives, and on the West Coast, not the East, I always had a difficult time recognizing the Ted Kennedy of Republican Convention speechcraft. (And, in fact, it's difficult to reconcile the way Republicans talked about Kennedy at their gatherings with the way they talked about him on the Senate floor, or when joining with him to pass bipartisan legislation.) Not that he wasn't a bloated caricature, and one with blood on his hands, but rather that he just didn't mean all that much to my liberal friends. (My liberal friends' dads, though are another story.) He was arguably more an icon of the opposing team than the political tendency he represented, more interesting to nostalgia-addicted Baby Boomers than to the majority of people who now participate in politics.Well, Matt, one thing you couldn't accuse Ted Kennedy of being was a libertarian (or a Libertarian, for that matter), so it's perhaps no surprise that your "liberal" West Coast friends couldn't stand the guy. He believed that the world could be made a better place, and that no human suffering should be tolerated. He is already missed.