Let's take a look at two political leaders, one of whom recently past away after serving as the third-longest member of the U.S. Senate. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was repeatedly reelected by his constituents, and upon his death was praised by members of his own Democratic Party and also by a good many Republicans.
The other man is the former vice president, Dick Cheney, who during his first term as vice president held unprecedented sway over what the government did and how little it said. Very few members of his own Republican Party are likely to say too many good things about him when he passes away.
Before he died, Kennedy said that health care reform was the cause of his life. Unfortunately, he died before that reform became law of the land.
Sen. John McCain praised him as a reliable partner on important issues, saying that he always kept his word and noting that he and Kennedy cooperated fully and never let party considerations interfere with their deliberations.
"We just sat down and worked out a proposal," he added.
Kennedy in death was praised as the "model of public service and an American icon" by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
When his brother Robert was assassinated in 1986, Ted was looked upon as an inevitable presidential candidate. But that disappeared with the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick the next year.
While Sens. Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd served in the Senate longer than Ted Kennedy, neither one could match his record of achievement. Kennedy served in the Senate for 47 years after his brother John was elected president. Ted was the fourth of the brothers to die, following the untimely deaths of brothers Joe, Jack and Robert. He was 77 when he passed away from brain cancer.
It will be interesting to read Dick Cheney's memoirs, due out in the spring of 20ll. Reportedly, the theme will be a condemnation of what the Bush administration did in its second term when his influence had begun to wane.
The focus of his memoir reportedly will be how right President Bush was to take his advice on torture, eavesdropping, secret prisons and how easy it would be to conquer Iraq.
Anybody who would believe what Cheney says in his memoirs has to be naive. Let's not forget that he was the man hired to find a vice presidential candidate, and who selected himself. We have to remember that Cheney apparently sees every move toward moral behavior and every act of respect for the separation of powers as an act of weakness and an inability to see things the way they really are. He's a man not to be trusted.
Cheney obviously enjoyed his role in the first term of the Bush presidency. Bush followed all his recommendations, a practice he did not follow in his second term.
Cheney, I believe, had a passionate desire to be president and was deeply disappointed that did not occur.
Kennedy lived long enough to atone for early mistakes and do much good for the country. It is doubtful that Cheney will accomplish the same.
Murray B. Light is the former editor of The Buffalo News