Cons Continue to Politicize Kennedy Death

Yesterday, I noted that conservatives were already beginning work to politicize the death of Ted Kennedy in an effort to stifle those memorializing the former Senator in a way that honored his life service and decades-long effort to provide healthcare to all Americans in a way not at all dissimilar to the attempt to politicize the memorial of Paul Wellstone. These movement from the right shows no signs of abating.

Hannity on Kennedy's death: "a lot of this was the politicizing of -- remember Paul Wellstone's death?" Discussing Kennedy's death during his radio program, Sean Hannity asserted, "We've got The Wall Street Journal reporting -- and by the way, a lot of this was the politicizing of -- remember Paul Wellstone's death? You know, 'Let's do everything for Paul.' And we're now being implored to get behind Obamacare because it's what Ted Kennedy would have wanted." [The Sean Hannity Show, 8/26/09]

Savage fill-in Markowski on possible naming of health care bill after Kennedy: "It's political theater" like the "Wellstone memorial." Chris Markowski, filling in for Michael Savage on his radio program, took a caller who said that "if Ted Kennedy had wanted his name on this health care bill, I think that he would -- I would want to see where he said that in writing before he died. He had plenty of time." Markowski responded, in part, by asserting: "I don't think he's requested -- you got to understand, it's a show. OK? It's political theater. Like the Democrats thought that whole Wellstone memorial was going to -- it was going to force them to -- it was going to allow them to win the Senate race in Minnesota. This is political theater. It's a show." [The Savage Nation, 8/26/09]

Lopez on Kennedy's death: Wellstone service "turned into a political rally." The National Review Online's Kathyrn Jean Lopez wrote in an August 26 post to the blog The Corner titled "Re: The Politics of Ted Kennedy's Passing": "All politicos need to remember the Wellstone funeral when a well-known politician dies. Instead of memorializing his life, his service turned into a political rally. Some of the MSNBC coverage today I'm catching looks like a [sic] Obamacare convocation. Human life is about more than poltics. And politics isn't American Idol. Or, even, The Lion of the Senate."

Conservatives, who constantly evoke the name and memory of Ronald Reagan for political purposes, may try to browbeat those who wish to honor the memory of Ted Kennedy into stripping any references to his life work -- a life spent in public service, much of which involved a struggle to help provide more Americans with health coverage. However, there would be little better to honor the memory of Kennedy than by doing for him what has been done for a number of longtime advocates and public servants in years past (Republicans and Democrats alike) -- naming the program he sought for so long to enact in his memory, just as was done for Sens. William Roth (IRA), Claiborne Pell (educational grants), or J. William Fulbright (scholarships).

Update [2009-8-27 17:18:38 by Jonathan Singer]:Ben Smith has more on the effort by the right to politicize the death of Ted Kennedy. One point of context worth noting is that Americans have a long history of memorializing their fallen public servants. I mention the Roth IRA and other programs above, but the renaming of National Airport after Ronald Reagan -- even before he passed away -- comes to mind as well. So how this is controversial, rather than sheer chutzpah, escapes me.

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Patrick Backs Kennedy's Last Request

Brief recap: When it looked like John Kerry might become President, the Massachusetts state legislature changed the Senate succession law so that the Republican Governor, Mitt Romney, would not have the power to fill Kerry's seat. The new law states that a special election must be held 145-160 days after a vacancy, but contains no provision to keep the seat filled during those 160 days. A week ago today, news broke that Senator Ted Kennedy had sent a letter to state leaders asking them to give the Governor the power to appoint someone to fill the seat until the election could be held, on the condition that that appointee not run for the office him/herself.

So here's the news: Governor Patrick said today that he supports Senator Kennedy's request. State Republicans will, of course, try to paint this as a power grab, never mind the fact that the appointment is just for 145-160 days and that Massachusetts voters need to be heard on issues from cap-and-trade to budget issues. From the Boston Globe:

"I'd like the Legislature to take up the bill quickly and get it to my desk and I will sign it,'' Patrick said in an interview with the Globe, reiterating in his strongest terms what he had been saying throughout the day, as the state and nation absorbed Kennedy's death and what it would mean for Massachusetts, and for the chamber he served for a half-century.

Patrick's public statements add to growing momentum for Kennedy's plea, which he made last week in a poignant letter to the governor and legislative leaders. Kennedy said that while he supported the state's current method of filling vacant a Senate seat through a special election, Massachusetts could not afford to go without two senators at such a critical time.

Kerry, Harry Reid, and Vicki Kennedy have both been lobbying state leaders to make the change. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said nothing publicly but seems to support the change privately. Senate President Therese Murray has been more reluctant but her opposition seems to be softening.

I would be remiss if I did not end a post on Ted Kennedy, however, by again expressing dismay. This New York Times op-ed from former staffer Adam Clymer (whose biography of Kennedy should arrive from Amazon tomorrow) is one of the better tributes I've seen.

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Health Care Circa 1978

Gotta love Bob Cesca's HuffPo headline: "Healthcare Reform Named After Ted Kennedy Must Not Suck."

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Ted Kennedy: Fearless Leader in the Fight against Hate Crime

Senator Kennedy's prolific career spanned nearly five decades, during which he authored more than 2,500 bills in the U.S. Senate. Several hundred have become public law. This fall we hope to add yet another bill to that distinguished list - the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

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Senator Ted Kennedy's Health Care Legacy

Last night, our country lost one of the most important public servants in U.S. history, Senator Ted Kennedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Vickie, his children, First Lady Maria Shriver, the Governor and the entire Kennedy family. The nation and the world have lost a leader with unparalleled passion for social justice and equality, and his legacy will live on in the many lives and hearts he touched. They will carry the flame of justice and service forward.

Senator Kennedy fought for health care access for every American. In the 1990s, he was one of the lead architects of S-CHIP, which has provided millions of low-income children with the health care they deserve, and he tirelessly promoted universal coverage throughout his career. As Kennedy said during his riveting address at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last year:

"This is the cause of my life - new hope, that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American - north, south, east, west, young, old - will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not as a privilege."

More over the flip...

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