Excerpts from Ted Kennedy's Memoir published by Politico





TED KENNEDY, IN HIS OWN WORDS -- Excerpts provided to POLITICO from 'True Compass: A Memoir,' by Edward M. Kennedy (532 pages, $35), published today by TWELVE:

ON HIS CORE RELIGIOUS BELIEF: 'My own center of belief, as I matured and grew curious about these things, moved toward the great Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 especially, in which he calls us to care for the least of these among us, and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, visit the imprisoned. It's enormously significant to me that the only description in the Bible about salvation is tied to one's willingness to act on behalf of one's fellow human beings. The ones who will be deprived of salvation – the sinners – are those who've turned away from their fellow man. People responsive to the great human condition, and who've tried to alleviate its misery – these will be the ones who join Christ in Paradise. To me, this perspective on my faith has almost literally been a lifesaver. It has given me strength and purpose during the greatest challenges I have faced, the roughest roads I have traveled.' (Page 29)

ON DRIVING WITH THE FAMILY TO JACK'S INAUGURATION: 'The temperature was still quite low and everything was icy, but it was no longer snowing. As our driver tried to pull out of his parking place, we heard nothing but the sound of the engine and the whirring of the tires as they spun around and around. He tried again and again, but simply was unable to get traction on the ice and snow. None of us was happy, but my father was furious. 'Hurry up. We're going to be late,' he shouted. But we were stuck. Finally, my father decided to take things into his own hands. I can still see him getting out of the car in his full dress clothes, shouting and gesturing at the driver and directing him on how to turn the wheel, how to back up, move forward, while Dad finally just pushed the car, providing the necessary muscle to power the vehicle out of the parking spot. It was classic Joe Kennedy: take charge and do it right, even if it means having to do it yourself. We made it to the inauguration.' (page 165)

ON A MEMORABLE MEETING IN THE CLINTON WHITE HOUSE: 'I'll never forget one of my first meetings with Clinton in the White House. He had walked into a firestorm over the question of whether gays should be allowed to serve in the military. He'd invited all the Democratic members of the Armed Services Committee to this gathering. He went around the room, asking everyone's opinion about gays in the military. Some senators gave long answers. Some were terse. Some were flowery and revealing, and others held their cards close to their vest. It added up to a very lengthy meeting. I remember it well partly because Vicki and I had tickets to the ballet that night. Baryshnikov was dancing at the Warner Theatre. I'd told Vicki to go ahead and that I'd meet her there when I could. But the meeting went on and on, for more than two hours – extraordinary by White House standards. Finally, my turn to speak came. I made a brief comment in support of allowing gays in the military, in which I mentioned that all the arguments against such a policy had already been made....Well, I was wrong about that. Almost all the arguments had been used before. The last senator to speak was Robert Byrd, and he came up with a new one on all of us.....He informed us, with many ornate flourishes, that there had been a terrible problem in ancient Rome with young military boys turned into sex slaves. I don't remember the exact details, but I think the story involved Tiberius Julius Caesar being captured and abused and used as a sex slave. He escaped and then years later he sought vengeance and killed his captors. Anyway, it was something like that. The room fell silent. The senator continued. Then President Clinton stood up. His response was short and sweet. 'Well,' he said. 'Moses went up to the mountain, and he came back with the tablets and there were ten commandments on those tablets. I've read those commandments. I know what they say, just like I know you do. And nowhere in those ten commandments will you find anything about homosexuality. Thank y'all for coming.' He ended the meeting and walked out of the room.' (Pages 451-452)

ON HOW FAITH SUSTAINS HIM: 'As my story draws to a close, I am living with cancer. And I know that I will die with it and likely from it. But I do not dwell on that....All my life, the teachings of my faith have provided solace and hope, as have the wonders of nature, especially the sea; where religion and spirituality meet the physical. This faith has been as meaningful to me as breathing or loving my family. It's all intertwined....Those foundations have been shaken at times by tragedy and misfortune, but faith remains fixed in my heart, as it has been since my childhood days. It is the most positive force in my life and the cause of my eternal optimism. I have fallen short in my life, but my faith has always brought me home. For almost fifty years, I have represented people who are facing injustice or pain. Life can be violent and grim, but I think of the Resurrection and I feel a sense of hope. When I've started down a spiral of depression or negativism or loss, I've been lucky enough to be able to see another side that can catch me on the way. I believe that if you have a warm and embracing heart, faith can have a powerful impact on your outlook. Vicki has been a great source of strength and love because we share this underlying belief and faith. Life is eternal. Work continues. It is a calling, an opportunity to do things about injustice or unfairness. It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.' (pages 504-505)


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