Monday, August 31, 2009

The Politicization of Ted Kennedy's Death

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

Politics right to the grave's edge

As my regular readers know, I have refrained from criticizing the late Senator Ted Kennedy out of respect for his passing. I am also reluctant to take shots at those of his colleagues and followers who are mourning his death. Something, must be said, however, about the crass politicization of his death for partisan purposes. Generally, the funeral was done well. His wife, Victoria, especially, was a picture of grace and class. Unfortunately, political necessities-urgent necessities for the Democrats- have put a damper on what was otherwise a good send-off for Senator Kennedy.

In the final weeks and days of Kennedy's life, we began to hear calls for a change in Massachusetts state law that would allow the governor, Deval Patrick, to appoint a successor to fill Kennedy's seat. The senator himself asked for such a change. As things now stand, the state of Massachusetts must wait a period of some 5 months, then have a special election. Of course, a few years ago, the law was different. It called for the governor to appoint a successor to a senator whose term was cut short. In 2004, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts was running for president. With the prospect of his election, Democrats in Massachusetts feared that the then- governor, Mitt Romney (a Republican)would appoint a Republican to fill Kerry's position. As a result, the Democrats,with Kennedy's help, changed the law. Of course, with Kerry's defeat, it became a moot point, but the law was changed. Now the Democrats want to change it back to ensure a Democrat fills Kennedy's seat. Pure politics.

Secondly, as Kennedy's death approached, many Democrats, like former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, for example, publicly called for the pending government health bill to be named after Ted Kennedy. Reason? To inspire increased public support. "Do it for Teddy", if you will.

Even during the funeral, the health care issue was brought to the fore. I would like to know which adult gave that prayer to Kennedy's young grandchild to read in the Boston mass, something along the lines of, "that universal health care........"

"Lord, hear our prayer."

Then, at the gravesite, a letter was read that Kennedy had written to the Pope. It was touching enough until the reader got to the part where Kennedy was describing his attempts to get universal health care passed.

I'm sorry, folks. It was crass politicization of an event that even Kennedy's enemies were treating with respect. It was reminiscent of the Paul Wellstone funeral, when Trent Lott was booed as he came to pay his respects and Wellstone's son gave a tub-thumping political speech that would have embarrassed his father.

Now, finally, the Democrats, realizing that they are lacking a crucial vote needed to stop a Republican filibuster, are trying to find a way to ram this bill through on a majority vote. The partisan New York Times has even pointed this out in an editorial telling the Democrats they need to get this thing done by whatever means necessary (see below link). This last point also points out another reason why Democrats want that Massachusetts law changed back to the way it used to be. Crass politics.

So whether you are Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, for or against the government health care plan, I hope you will all pay attention to how this plays out and specifically how the Democrats use Kennedy's death to advance their political agenda. So far, it lacks any class, whatsoever.

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