Ross Douthat, in today's New York Times, takes a look at the recent deaths -- and legacies -- of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her brother Sen. Ted Kennedy, keenly observing the way the former managed to walk the liberal line in a consistent and compassionate way, working for protections of the both the unborn and those with special needs, while her brother reversed course on his earlier pro-life leanings to tout the party line of abortion-on-demand.
Sen. Kennedy was remembered during his funeral and in the media for his concern for the poor and vulnerable. Unfortunately, his concern for the most vulnerable -- the unborn -- shifted from the initial stand he took in a letter to a voter in 1971 where he declared, "wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized -- the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old."
His sister never reneged on her belief in compassion and care for all people, born and unborn, and so was the truly Catholic liberal in the family, or, as Mr. Douthat writes, the one who, like the church, "saw a continuity, rather than a contradiction, between championing the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed and protecting unborn human life."
Douthat sums of the sibling differences best when he writes:
"At times, Ted Kennedy’s fervor on abortion felt like an extended apology to his party’s feminists for the way the men of his dynasty behaved in private. Eunice, by contrast, had nothing to apologize for. She knew what patriarchy meant: she was born into a household out of 'Mad Men,' where the father paraded his mistress around his family, the sons were groomed for high office, and the daughters were expected to marry well, rear children and suffer silently. And she transcended that stifling milieu, doing more than most men to change the world, and earning the right to disagree with her fellow liberals about what true feminism required."May they both rest in peace, and may Eunice's desire to see a Democratic party that "does not pit mother against child" some day come to pass. Read Douthat's full column HERE.