Senator Edward M. Kennedy is undergoing surgery for his malignant brain tumor at Duke University this morning, his office announced today.
Kennedy, in a brief but upbeat statement, signaled that he would wait until all treatments were concluded before returning to Washington and the floor of the Senate. That return won't likely take place until September, after the Senate returns from its summer recess.
When I first moved to the Boston area thirty odd years ago, I reflexively bristled at each proposal Ted Kennedy brought to congress. I was raised to hate taxes as unnecessary and a redistribution of power out of the hands of those who had earned it. I cannot point to a particular year, or campaign issue or person that made me recognize the injustice of these attitudes and positions I was brought up with. But in all the years that I was growing into the modest political engagement I now exercise, Senator Kennedy was there in the background, rock steady in his efforts and eloquent in his ardor to shape a country where a fair chance at a decent living remained within the reach of most people. I do not say I agreed with every priority he pursued but differences shrivel in the shade of the many ways he transcended his patrician circumstances and his party boundaries for the sake of bettering common lives.
The odds are not good but I fervently hope against all odds that the Senator pulls through OK. He is a vital ally in many of the good legislative causes that still need all the help they can get.
UPDATES: The surgery was deemed "successful" but there is a long road of chemo and maybe radiation ahead.
Also ailing, dear old Senator Byrd, sticking by his guns even when ill. I still admire the moral force and clarity with which he has stood up to bums like Rumsfeld in recent years.