In Our Opinion
Sep 01, 2009 | 2699 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Much has been said of Senator Ted Kennedy since he passed away last week.

That he represented the very best in American politics, and also its many contradictions;

a privileged man who dedicated his public service career to those less fortunate, while falling prey to vice and excess in his personal life.

That he stood for all that is good and right of New Deal Liberalism, but was unafraid - indeed, supremely skilled - at reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans to pass important legislation.

That he was one of the greatest legislators of our time, and in the history of the United States Senate.

And that, Republican or Democrat, we must now come together to follow Kennedy’s supreme example, set partisanship aside and pass the kind of comprehensive health care reform Teddy called the “great cause of my life.”

This last sentiment is easier said than done, unfortunately. The health care reform Congress is likely to pass this year will most likely fall well short of Kennedy’s humane, courageous vision of health care for all.

As has often been the case, pundits since the senator’s death have fallen prey to heaping expectations on a Kennedy’s shoulders without asking anything from themselves or others in return.

Why should we hope that Kennedy will accomplish in death what he could not do in life? The Senate should have been listing more closely to the senator while he was alive, and following his selfless example. Instead, Republicans have politicized his death, if subtly, for their own partisan gain in the struggle to pass health care reform.

It is true that several prominent senators gave heartfelt, teary-eyed speeches remembering their friend Teddy, and his compassion, humor, and grace.

How many of these were Republican? Very, very few. So few, in fact, it would not be surprising if some even suppressed their own desire to praise Kennedy’s bipartisanship publicly for fear of seeming weak.

At a moment when Democrats from President Obama on down used Kennedy’s death as a national rallying cry for compromise, the Republican response was shamefully silent.

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