Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I first heard about Ted Kennedy's cancer when I was in Portland, Oregon, going door-to-door for then U.S. Senate candidate, Steve Novick. Novick, like Kennedy, was a champion of the little man, an unabashed liberal. Had Novick been elected, he would have worked tirelessly for meaningful health care reform -- Teddy Kennedy's fundamental goal as a statesman. Novick would have unleashed strong, fiery statements against the politicians who take zillions of dollars from the health care companies and then fight to ensure that those companies continue to enjoy eye-popping profits, while tens of millions of Americans remain uninsured. And, in making passionate appeals to our better angels, Novick wouldn't have spared his fellow Status-Quo Democrats (aka "SQD's" or "DINO's" -- Democrats in Name Only). He would have called a spade a spade.

In short, Novick would have fought like a tiger to support the cause of a true lion.

Today, on shows like Morning Joe, all the pundits are falling all over themselves to praise our most recently deceased celebrity. They cannot say enough good things about Kennedy the Senator, and Kennedy the Man.

Well, my pundits, if you truly want to honor a dead celebrity, I suggest that on this occasion, you have a rare opportunity to do so. What do you say that in the next few weeks, you look closely at the health care legislation that is being proposed by the Administration, as well any alternatives proposed by Administration critics. Figure out which approach best comports with the principles of Ted Kennedy -- and I mean Kennedy the compromiser as well as Kennedy the progressive. Figure out, in short, what Teddy would advocate if he were alive and vigorous. Surely, he would want a bill that would have the support of as much of America as possible. Then again, he would also want a bill that is truly MEANINGFUL reform, and not just some attempt to tinker around the edges of the system.

America elected a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress. And they have a chance to pass legislation that would address what nearly all Americans -- and virtually all Democrats -- would agree is a fundamentally flawed system. I submit that the standard we should follow in figuring out how to deal with this situation is to ask a simple question: "What would Ted Kennedy do?" Lately, even some Senate Republicans have used him as a role model, suggesting that if he were in full form, he would never support the heavy-handed way the Administration is handling health care. Well ... if those Republicans are right, so be it. But are they right? And if so, would Kennedy advocate a willingness to compromise on the public option, or to fight for it even more strenuously than the Administration has done to date?

I think I know the answer. I suspect you do too. Whether the yentahs on Morning Joe know the answer -- or even think to address the question -- is something yet to be seen.

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