Sorensen legacy remembered
November 1st, 2010
Lincoln, NE – A Nebraska political icon is being remembered for his way with words and his role in helping determine the legacy of a President. Ted Sorensen was born and raised in Lincoln. He died Sunday in New York City at the age of 82 after suffering a stroke.
It could have all turned out differently after Ted Sorensen left Lincoln as a young lawyer to make a career in Washington politics. Mike Wagner, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, said Sorensen interviewed for positions with two incoming Democratic senators: Henry â€œScoopâ€ Jackson from Washington, and the incoming junior Senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. â€œHe interviewed with both of them,â€ he said, â€œHe just felt like he would have more to do, and more interesting things to do, with JFK.â€
Sorensen soon became the speech writer and a key policy advisor to JFK in the Senate and the White House. While Sorensen was reluctant to claim it for himself, Wagner said he is credited with writing some of the most influential political rhetoric in history. Sorensen helped JFK write the book, Profiles In Courage, and Kennedyâ€™s landmark inaugural address. But he was also on the inside helping draft crucial communications with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wagner said Sorensen was valuable to President Kennedy because he would not always say what Kennedy wanted to hear.
â€œHis opinion was sought on tough decisions because he wasnâ€™t a â€œyesâ€ man,â€ he said. â€œMake no mistake, he was extraordinarily loyal. He never spoke about Kennedyâ€™s personal life, was rare to admit a Kennedy mistake during Kennedyâ€™s life or after he was assassinated. But he was a person who could tell the truth to JFK himself.â€ â€œWhen Sorensen disagreed with him,â€ he said, â€œhe would say so. And thatâ€™s one reason he got into, and stayed in, the roomâ€
Sorensen left the White House after Kennedyâ€™s assassination and later joined a New York City law firm. He continued to advise Democratic candidates. Nebraska Democratic Party Chairman, Vic Covalt, said in a written statement that Sorensen freely offered his wisdom and counsel, and that he truly gave America the promise of a new frontier.
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