Kennedy brought intensity, passion to the Senate

Coming from a wealthy, famous family, Sen. Kennedy could have taken shortcuts. But he never did that — he brought a passion and intensity to his work the likes of which I will never forget.

His staff accepted the long hours and dedication he demanded from us because he stood with us working twice as hard.

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) once accurately remarked that Sen. Kennedy was better-prepared than any other senator. His No Child Left Behind briefing book was legendary — a huge binder full of studies and analyses. It seemed every page was dog-eared, heavily underlined and carefully tabbed.

One Friday, there was a lull in a debate over a minimum-wage increase. On pure impulse, he went to the Senate floor and delivered one of the most impassioned speeches I had ever heard from him. At one point, he voice echoed through the chamber so loud that I had to leave the floor because my ears were ringing.

As Sen. Kennedy said of his brother Robert, the same can be said of him. He “need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”

Jim Manley is a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and was a longtime aide to Kennedy.