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Keller @ Large: Kennedy Institute Shouldn’t Be Partisan Shrine

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In this handout image provided by Disney, Senator Edward M. Kennedy visits the Matterhorn at Disneyland in November, 1960 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Disney via Getty Images)

In this handout image provided by Disney, Senator Edward M. Kennedy visits the Matterhorn at Disneyland in November, 1960 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Disney via Getty Images)

420x316-grad-keller2 Jon Keller
Veteran Boston political commentator Jon Keller is heard every weekday...
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BOSTON (CBS) – My congratulations and best wishes go out to Mrs. Vicki Kennedy and all the people who’ve worked hard to make possible today’s groundbreaking for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate at Columbia Point.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

The late Senator’s decades of work in the Senate are a worthy subject for a museum and education center, especially here in Massachusetts, where he was one of a handful of key political figures who helped shape the modern-day economy and infrastructure of our state.

From the grounds, you’ll be able to see the UMass/Boston campus, a beneficiary of the federal aid to higher education that Kennedy made a point of pursuing and protecting in Washington… you’ll see Boston Harbor, a cleaner, more economically vibrant place today due to Ted’s commitment…. and the skyline of Boston, the city the senator helped rescue from the scrap-heap of urban history a half century ago.

They say the Institute will be a place where citizens will learn how our democracy works, and that’s a noble goal. Ted Kennedy earned his reputation as one of the most effective legislators ever.

But I hope the people behind it resist the temptation to turn this place into just another partisan landmark.

The truth is, there are aspects of the Kennedy legacy that are legitimately debatable, that are being debated even as we speak.

Are the big-government solutions to chronic social problems that Ted favored always the right way to go?

There was no agreement within the Democratic Party over crucial budgetary and foreign policy issues when Ted was one of its leaders, and there still isn’t.

Will visitors to the institute be encouraged to learn from his failures as well as his successes?

One of the things I admired most about Ted Kennedy was that he operated in the real world of compromise and change.

Let’s hope that this institute, funded in part with millions in public dollars, turns his memory into a real teachable moment instead of becoming a shallow partisan shrine.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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