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27th August
2009
written by Sean Noble

Senator Edward Kennedy, speaking on the U.S.'s involvement in Iraq at the National Press

My prayers go out to the Kennedy family.  The death of Senator Edward Kennedy has resulted in a wave of retrospective pieces about his influence in the U.S. Senate and the public policy of the United States.  As one of the longest serving Senators (he ran and won in 1964) he was a fierce liberal partisan, but also someone who worked across the aisle to get things done.  One of his most sweeping legislative accomplishments, No Child Left Behind, was passed under a Republican Senate and signed by a Republican President.  A pragmatist indeed.

But pragmatism, when put above principle, can come back to haunt you.  When Sen. John Kerry was running for President in 2004, Kennedy put significant pressure on the Massachusetts legislature to change the law for the filling of a Senate vacancy.  He did not want to give Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, the chance to appoint Kerry’s successor if he won the Presidency.  So, the legislature changed the law to require a special election.

Now, five years later, there is a Democrat Governor, and had Kennedy left well enough alone, there would be someone appointed to his seat within a couple weeks.  As it stands now, Kennedy’s seat will remain vacant until January.

The irony of this is that one of Kennedy’s life-long passions was health care policy.  And his death, and the inability of quickly filling his seat, means that there are 59 Democrats in the Senate and that Obama and the Democrats will NOT be able to pass cloture (60 votes) on health care legislation without getting a Republican vote.

It may be that Kennedy’s “pragmatism” killed his dream for universal, government-run health care.  Thank you, Senator.

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4 Comments

  1. John Doe
    27/08/2009

    I’ve been wrestling with my feelings on this for a while and while I feel for the Senators family there is a part of me that also says good ridance. I think that far to often we forget about how many people are hurt by the actions of someone that lives in privledge. In Sen. Kennedy’s case, he likely got away with murder, if not manslaughter. In addition his support of abortion on demand not only went agaisnt his prinicples as a Catholic, but also resulted in the deaths of countless unborn chilrden. Finally, hsi policies have hurt the very people he claimed to want to help. He and his family have never known how difficult it is to live on the edges of poverty and to find that government is not there to help but to hinder their efforts to prosper.

    I recognize his accomplishments, even if they caused more harm than good, and pray that God forgives and calls him home, but I guess I really don’t morn his passing.

  2. Ginni
    27/08/2009

    I don’t want to be disrespectful towards someone who is no longer here, but, politically speaking, this really is poetic justice. He might actually become one of my heroes for helping take down the health care bill! Crazy.

  3. Margot
    27/08/2009

    What a nice reminder of things coming full circle. I think sometimes politicians forget that the very rules they create to win one battle may- God forbid!!- be applied to them in another.

  4. Woody
    28/08/2009

    Another ironic twist is that he may have done Mitt Romney a favor by getting the law changed. Had Romney appointed a “moderate” GOP senator with even a whisp of a chance of later election, the Republicans who claim he’s soft on abortion etc. would have unloaded on him. As it is, Mitt’s looking better and better as a presidential candidate.

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