There was, first of all, the fact that he gave the speech at all. It was a demonstration of a certain kind of courage, and it was admirable. Beyond that, the speech was not sentimental or retrospective or introspective; it was, rather, forward-looking and purposeful. His goal was to continue what he started many months ago: to anoint Barack Obama as the heir to his brother. He did not choose to play on people's emotions; instead, he chose to meet what he views as his political duty.
And beyond that was, as Charles Krauthammer noted on Fox tonight, a slight but significant, and poignant, shift in Kennedy's rhetoric. In his other memorable convention speech, in 1980, Kennedy concluded by saying "the dream will never die." Tonight Senator Kennedy, stricken with terminal brain cancer, declared "the dream will live on."
There are few figures in public life with whom I disagree with more than Senator Kennedy, and he has said and done things over the years that I have found deeply troubling. But tonight he was, to borrow a line made famous by his brother, a profile in courage. We saw a man facing a horrifying disease act with grit and grace. And that is something for which I am grateful.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Peter Wehner on when Senator Ted Kennedy's speech last night was memorable and moving: