‘Top Line:’ Kennedy’s Legacy Lives on Through Senate Institute

By Lindsey Ellerson

Aug 27, 2009 3:01pm

ABC News’ Kim Berryman reports: Though it has been merely a day since the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy, the legacy built by the long time public servant will continue on through projects that have been years in the making.

Today on ABC’s Top Line Peter Meade, President and CEO of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate spoke of his friendship with the senator and their plans to inspire others with the values that shaped the Senate Lion’s career.

According to the website, the institute “will be dedicated to educating the general public, students, teachers, new Senators, and Senate staff about the role and importance of the Senate.”

As a 47 year veteran of the U.S. Senate, Ted Kennedy built a reputation for being able to cross party lines and accomplish his goals. Kennedy’s work ethic and skill resulted in more than 300 of the bills bearing his name being made into law.

“Crossing party lines and being able to put a deal together… begins with respect for other people and working to get the deal done. So, the institute…will hopefully be able to teach those values to young people and be an educational tool. It will be a tool to have people understand our country, it will be a patriotic tool to discuss how our democracy has worked and how it’s working presently,” Mead explained.

The Kennedy institute will reach out not only to students and senators but will also “aid teachers in our grammar schools and high schools as they’re teaching American history to be able to talk about [how American democracy works] and frankly, teach respect for the U.S. Senate” said Mead.

The highly anticipated institute will be located on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Boston near the John F. Kennedy Library.  Though other suggestions were made, the senator had no doubt about where he wanted to break ground.

“The senator once said to me, ‘if you look at UMass Boston that’s the future of the commonwealth of Massachusetts. It’s many people who weren’t born here, who didn’t get the easiest breaks but they’re people who are determined to be educated and to make a difference.’ It’s a great institution and that’s where he wanted it to be,” said Mead, remembering a meeting he and Kennedy had three years ago to discuss the Senate focused establishment.

The late Senator will lie in repose on Thursday at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, which is close to the planned institute where his legacy will continue on.

To hear more about the Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate from Peter Meade, click HERE.

Also joining ABC’s Top Line today to discuss the life of the youngest Kennedy brother, was Adam Clymer, author of "Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography."

Health care reform has certainly been the focus of summer headlines but more than that, it was the work of Senator Kennedy’s lifetime. His passing in the midst of an intense health care battle on Capitol Hill has many wondering about the influence Kennedy may still have over the bill.

“I don’t know that there’s a leader in the Senate capable of saying let’s do it for Teddy’ and persuading people” said Clymer. “I think things would have been much further along in the Senate [if he were engaged] this slow dance that a few members of the Finance Committee seem to be engaging in it’s a waltz is in maybe one quarter time rather than three quarter.”

You can see our full interview with Adam Clymer HERE.

Those who wish to read Senator Kennedy’s autobiography will have to wait just a few more weeks. The Senator’s own account of his life, “True Compass” will hit shelves in September. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0809/26463.html

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