Some years ago a serious friend astonished me by suggesting that Joe Kennedy had made a pact with the devil over the futures of his sons. He made a fortune from questionable activities including bootlegging and crime-family links, and was appointed US Ambassador to London during the war before blotting his copybook. Paralysed by a stroke but fully mentally aware, he lived to see two of his sons assassinated and the third destroy his political career in the waters of the Chappaquidick. I asked what had gone wrong. My friend replied "Joe Kennedy thought he could outsmart the devil."
Make of that what you will, but today sees the end of one of America's most controversial political families. The obits will pick apart Ted Kennedy's life, and future historians insulated by the distance of time will judge the effect this extraordinary family really had on the world. For today let's let them grieve.