Commentary: Kennedy knew how to get things done

Best known for his galvanizing words in times of tragedy and at national political conventions, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009) will be remembered as one of the most effective U.S. senators in history.

Though his brothers John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy also served in the Senate, Edward Kennedy served nearly a half-century. During the terms of 10 presidents, he delivered on key civil rights, health care, immigration, education and other legislation that defined an era.

Although he was often seen by friend and foe alike as a diehard liberal, Kennedy actually worked across party lines to collaborate with Republicans on most of the major legislation he shepherded through the Senate.

First elected in 1962, Kennedy really came into his own in 1965. His first major role was in the passage of the Voting Rights Act — and he's led the passage of virtually every major piece of civil rights legislation since.

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