Well, we all pretty much knew that this was coming:
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that both the Kennedy family and the Senate have "lost our patriarch" and vowed Congress would renew the push for the cause of Kennedy's life, health care reform.
Out of respect for my RedState colleagues, I have delayed the posting of this post for several hours, but it is worth noting that MSNBC had already reported that Reid (always a classy guy) uttered these words before I made it in to work this morning. In other words, before Kennedy's corpse was even cold. Now, a wise man once coined the maxim de mortuis, nil nisi bonum, and we here at RedState have always made an effort to let even the death of even the most contemptible of our political foes pass without a word of criticism.
However, given that Reid, et al are apparently going to use this fundamental aspect of Republican decency in order to push a political legislative agenda (rather than, say, allowing the family to grieve privately and quietly, if that is their desire), it sadly becomes necessary to wonder aloud whether Kennedy as a man was worth emulating at all.
Dan McLaughlin has already noted that Kennedy's "personal life ranged from alcoholism to debauchery to sexual harrassment to (sadly, uncharged) second-degree murder[.]" However, it is also worth noting that Kennedy was personally and politically a hypocrite, that he wilfully slandered men more honorable than he in the service of legalized abortion (and in so doing poisoned the judicial confirmation process in this country, probably forever), and that he built a political career out of provoking class warfare despite having been been born with a diamond spoon in his mouth and having everything he ever wanted handed to him on a silver platter. Insofar as he was a man of any religious faith at all, he was nominally a Catholic, a faith he besmirched repeatedly with the grave sin of scandal: a cornerstone of Kennedy's entire public career centered upon using his position of leadership and prominence to present abortion (categorically defined by the Catholic church as a mortal) sin as good and normal, to say nothing of Kennedy's many other failings which those who looked to him for example might follow. In the later stages of his career, Kennedy was not content to rest upon his laurels, but spent most of his time making the world safer for terrorists. Although, to his credit, it might be fairly said that defending terrorists was a lifelong pursuit - Kennedy was supporting IRA terrorists long before any of us heard of Al Qaeda.
Indeed we find precious little to commend ourselves to the life of Ted Kennedy, the entirety of his success and notoriety owing to the circumstances of his birth into a pre-existing family of wealth and influence - circumstances which ordinary Americans (even Americans who work hard to earn more than $135,000 and thus become targets of Ted Kennedy's class warfare demagoguery) cannot hope to duplicate. It would be better for this country if the Democrats had not opened the salvo of using Ted Kennedy's legacy as a political football; both because it would allow his family to grieve his passing appropriately, and also because it would not teach the youth of this country that such a man as Ted Kennedy can live the debaucherous life he lived and yet be hailed publicly by a prominent political party in this country. However, the Democrats having begun the process, Republicans should not preemptively surrender the contest and allow his last legislative monstrosity to come to fruition. Ted Kennedy's legacy, such as it is, is already full enough.