Ted Kennedy: An American Legislator

Susan Walsh / AP

Senator Edward Kennedy

In the outpouring of tributes and reminiscences that followed the death of Senator Edward Kennedy last month, there was one aspect of his life that seemed to me to have been little noticed: his was a career that could have happened only in America.

I don't mean that there was something uniquely American about Kennedy's Rabelaisian style, or even that he was special because he was a member of America's most famous political family. Other political cultures have reformed rogues, just like Kennedy, and others have dynasties, too. Indeed, there have been times this year when...

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