Like a lot of folks, I shared almost no policy positions with Ted Kennedy and largely despised him for his personal failures. But I also knew people including family members who experinced his legendary constituent outreach.
My wife related how her brother, a Vietnam era Marine, came down with a deadly form of cancer at the age of 19 while serving in Vietnam. He was having trouble getting released for treatment. So his mother wrote to Senator Ted Kennedy in hopes he could help. The brother got discharged and into treatment and his life was saved. So even when events told them that Kennedy didn't share their values, his various exploits including Chappaquiddick, they muted their criticism out of gratitude for the personal favor.
Stories like this are common around the state.
Scott Brown is another politician I have personal experience with. A young man, my son, was observing extreme political bias in his high school during the 2004 campaign. So he decided to form a political club to give students a forum to openly and safely debate the issues without teacher interference. The teachers predictably overreacted, disrupted club meetings and censored the meeting announcement posters. A State Senator named Scott Brown saw a news report about the controversy and wrote a personal letter to my son. In it he said:
"I can understand the frustration you sometimes feel when you are a minority opinion. I am one of only six Republican members in the Massachusetts Senate which is controlled by a majority of Democrats who number 34.I am proud that you are standing up for your viewpoint even though they might be considered unpopular by some classmates with opposing views. However being able to express alternative viewpoints is one of the foundations of our democracy and everyone is entitled to their voice."
Fast forward to the current campaign however and you have a candidate to fill Kennedy's shoes who has no such record. In fact Martha Coakley has shown disdain for the common folks she will be tasked to serve, sneering about standing in the cold shaking hands outside Fenway Park for example. In the case of Gerald Amirault, she was willing to sacrifice an innocent man's freedom to further her career. The same with the 2005 child rape case she refused to prosecute. And more recently, she stood by and watched a campaign aid knock over a young reporter and then lied about it.
My son prevailed in a federal First Amendment lawsuit against his school for viewpoint discrimination. Now he's a volunteer for the Brown for Senate campaign.
Now I ask you, which candidate acted more like Senator Ted Kennedy?