I once read a book about Edward Kennedy by a former assistant of his, Richard E Burke. It was a fascinating read (although disputed as unfactual by Kennedy himself). One thing that came out of it very strongly, is that, because his two brothers were shot, Edward Kennedy had a very acute sense of his mortality and a determination to enjoy every minute of his life.
The news about his malignant brain tumour is very sad. It has brought forward some remarkably high tributes to the man, some of which are collated on Political Wire:
"I think you can argue that I would not be sitting here as a presidential candidate had it not been for some of the battles that Ted Kennedy has fought. I stand on his shoulders."-- Sen. Barack Obama, quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
"On numerous occasions, I have described Ted Kennedy as the last lion in the Senate... because he remains the single most effective member... if you want to get results."-- Sen. John McCain, quoted by the Washington Post.
"Senator Kennedy enjoys great respect and admiration on this side of the aisle. He is indeed one of the most important figures to ever serve in this body in our history."-- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by the New York Times.
"He is the only senator who could bring tears to my eyes when I was presiding and he rose to speak on the floor of the Senate. There is something in the tone of the voice and the undisguised passion."-- Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), quoted by The Politico.
"I'm having a hard time remembering a day in my 34 years here that I felt this badly."-- Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), quoted by the Los Angeles Times.