I was part of a panel there this week discussing Kennedy’s role in the Northern Ireland peace process.
Everyone I spoke to, Republican or Democrat, agreed Kennedy would be out front leading the charge against Trump, not standing back for a minute and launching volley after volley.
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell laughed, thinking of the reaction Kennedy would have had to Trump who Mitchell said stood for everything Kennedy despised. “He’d have been energized, that’s for sure,” said the peace process hero.
That was the general consensus: a revved-up Kennedy would hardly have rested in his pursuit of Trump whose vision of America as isolationist and anti-immigrant he would have utterly rejected.
The Democratic Party right now badly lacks a leader, like Kennedy, to launch that kind of campaign. Elizabeth Warren appears to be the closest. The woman now representing Kennedy’s beloved Massachusetts in the senate has traded blows with Trump on Twitter, but the fact that she is relatively unknown nationwide dampens her impact.New Orleans political family, the Reggies, she has the genes, the talent and the family links to have become a major figure in American politics.
Watching her on Monday night it was easy to imagine her as a major politician – the glad handing, the friendships but, above all, the intellect left her very suited to the task.
Ted would have been proud of his wife recalling her memories of her husband’s involvement in Irish issues.
There are 280 oral histories in the Kennedy Oral History project, ranging from personal friends to political adversaries to civil rights leaders to family reminiscences. There are 22 interviews with Kennedy himself. If you have a few hours there are fascinating testimonies, expressed honestly by those who worked with this remarkable man, flawed but brilliant, who bestrode the senate stage like no senator before him or since.
On Monday all on the panel – Congressmen Peter King and Ritchie Neal, former White House Deputy National Security Advisor Nancy Soderberg, Senator Mitchell and me – all made a clear case that without Ted Kennedy the Irish would not be at peace.
Each had their own sense of the crisis moments when Kennedy steadied the ship of peace, kept it afloat.
My own belief is that a crisis point came when the IRA ceasefire collapsed in 1996 and the White House and every other major player needed immediate reassurance it was all not lost.
Kennedy stayed firm, believing the massive setback could be overcome and he kept the White House on board.
There were many such moments in Ted Kennedy’s legislative life but always a special place in his heart for everything Irish.
He is still badly missed in this strange age of Trump.