“He was a true pioneer of progressive politics … it won him friends not just in America but worldwide,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said of the longtime Democratic senator of Massachusetts, known fondly – on both sides of the aisle – as the "Lion of the Senate."
Today's tributes to Senator Kennedy bear that out.
Some praised the overall impact of his public service.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Kennedy “made an extraordinary contribution to American politics, an extraordinary contribution to America’s role in the world.”
Others honed in on his dogged determination to fight for what he held dear, or as German Chancellor Angela Merkel puts it, his "steadfastness."
Ms. Merkel expressed “deep sorrow” at his death. “Edward Kennedy was for decades one of the outstanding personalities of American politics,” she said. “His advocacy of justice and peace was marked by conviction and steadfastness.”
As in the US, Kennedy is remembered with great respect, even by many conservatives in Britain who disagreed with his politics.
"Heaven knows I disagreed with him on most issues, from the way he fêted the loathsome Gerry Adams to the way he frustrated large parts of the Contract with America," writes Daniel Hannan, a conservative columnist for The Daily Telegraph. "But he was also a great parliamentarian, who had a sense – not always shared in the Kennedy family – that he was passing through an institution greater than he was."
"He made his voice heard in the struggle against apartheid at a time when the freedom struggle was not widely supported in the West. We remain grateful for his role," Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive Achmat Dangor said in a statement.
But perhaps no other country is quite as saddened by the Lion's death as Ireland, where his family enjoys a special sentimental status and he is remembered for his substantial role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.
"Nowhere outside the United States is the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy being mourned as much as in Ireland, the country from where his ancestors emigrated during the potato famine of the 19th century and to which he helped bring peace in recent years," reports the Global Post. "President Mary McAleese said he would be remembered as a 'hugely important friend to the country during very difficult times,' and Prime Minister Brian Cowen commented that Ireland had lost a true friend who 'worked valiantly for the cause of peace on this island.' ”
Mr. Cowen also said of Kennedy: “He was the voice of moderation and common sense. He was unequivocal in his rejection of violence at all times and from all quarters. He believed that only politics would provide a sustainable and enduring way forward. His belief that the United States could play a strong role in solving our problems has been vindicated by the success of the Peace Process.”
Cowen ended his remarks with the Gaelic blessing in the Irish language: “Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam,” or “May his soul be on God’s right side.”
What made Kennedy so respected by all sides?
It's his record. For decades, most major pieces of legislation bore his imprint. Even when Democrats were in the minority, he got things done. Read our story on why he'll be remembered as a master legislator.
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