Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the last "lion" of the Massachusetts clan, finally rests – in peace, I hope.
Like most liberals, I appreciate the senator's work on behalf of the poor, and the disenfranchised. I applaud his decades of devotion to quality, affordable health-care for all Americans, in a country ranked 37th by the World Health Organization for its disregard of public health.
I celebrate his campaigns against poverty, bigotry and governmental neglect. I sympathize with his grieving relatives who will miss the personal concern and powerful influence that saw them through so many intimate crises — illnesses, a rape trial, assassinations, addictions, deaths, and public disappointments.
But as the papal correspondence read at the Arlington gravesite states: Ted Kennedy was an imperfect man; and with him ends an imperfect dynasty.
Here lies the real opportunity in Kennedy's death — a chance to break with a tradition of political royalty that left the nation, in recent years, in the grips of Clinton and Bush fatigue.
The late Kennedy patriarch, Joseph, never left any political move to chance. Ted's brother, martyred President John F. Kennedy, joked that his father had urged him to be conservative about how many votes he bought since the elder Kennedy refused, "to pay for a landslide."
Weaned on such political practicality, it seems unlikely Ted Kennedy would stop trying to protect his family's legacy — even from his deathbed.
But there are no Kennedy "lions-in-waiting." No "just like Jack" or "much like Bobby" or "so like Teddy" springs to mind. The political gene seems weakened, the gift for oratory elusive, the extraordinary charisma withering.
Lions with names other than "Kennedy" are at the ready. Ted Kennedy's passing offers America the chance to commit to the rejection of political royalty and tired dynasties.
It won't be easy with televisions, radios and web sites still rife with images of Arlington's eternal flame and Teddy's voice still promising, "the dream will never die."
But Joseph Kennedy's original dream was fulfilled. Today, new dreams, with new names attached, in a new time, beckon.