Kennedy and Sweeney (who is two years Kennedy’s junior) probably will be the last major Irish American leaders to have risen through what were, or recently had been, Irish American institutions. Both ended up outliving those institutions by decades, but both channeled the best of the Irish American heritage – its passion for justice, its empathy for the excluded, its strong sense of class – into their work. In that sense, Ted Kennedy’s America was a place where everyone was Irish and deserved a fair shot – and it was the duty of their government to provide it.
Harold Meyerson writes about politics and policy for The Washington Post, where this article first appeared.
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