Thursday, December 10, 2020

the last book I ever read (A Promised Land by Barack Obama, excerpt three)

from A Promised Land by Barack Obama:

“You need to talk to Kennedy,” he said. “He knows all the players. He’s run himself. He’ll give you some perspective. And at the very least, he’ll tell you if he plans to support anyone else.”

Heir to the most famous name in American politics, Ted Kennedy was by then the closest thing Washington had to a living legend. During more than four decades in the Senate, he’d been at the forefront of every major progressive cause, from civil rights to the minimum wage to healthcare. With his great bulk, huge head, and mane of white hair, he filled every room he walked into, and was the rare senator who commanded attention whenever he gingerly rose from his seat in the chamber, searching his suit pocket for his glasses or his notes, that iconic Boston baritone launching each speech with “Thank you, Madam President.” The argument would unspool—the face reddening, the voice rising—building to a crescendo like a revivalist sermon, no matter how mundane the issue at hand. And then the speech would end, the curtain would come down, and he would become the old, avuncular Teddy again, wandering down the aisle to check on the roll call or sit next to a colleague, his hand on their shoulder or forearm, whispering in their ear or breaking into a hearty laugh—the kind that made you not care that he was probably softening you up for some future vote he might need.

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