What Ted Kennedy Taught Us

I was listening to NPR this morning and as you would expect, the discussion was about Ted Kennedy and his legacy.

To me, Ted Kennedy meant progressive fighter and achiever. Kennedy talked the talk AND walked the walk. Was he perfect politically? Of course not. Certainly NCLB was a mistake. But he got so much right. And he did it by fighting and legislating. There was rhetoric and principle. And political bargaining from principle.

If anyone should gain inspiration and wisdom from how Ted Kennedy conducted himself legislatively and politically, I hope it is the Progressive Block in the House. Like Kennedy, they come from relatively safe political districts. Like Kennedy, they think big progressive ideas. Like Kennedy, they should negotiate from their ideals and use their principles as a negotiating strength. Let that lesson for progressive legislators be Ted Kennedy's lasting legacy and I believe he would be pleased.

Speaking for me only

< RIP: Sen. Ted Kennedy Has Died | Yglesias: Tomorrow's Compromise Is Today's Triumph >
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    I agree wholeheartedly (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by kenosharick on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:03:01 AM EST
    Unfortunately, I was watching C-SPAN this morning listening to callers talking about Sen. Kennedy. I was literally stunned by the vicious hatred being spewed by the Right. The far right certainly showed their true colors this morning. They could have at least had the decency to hold off a day or two.  

    So glad I haven't tuned into C-Span (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by vigkat on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:07:30 AM EST
    Viciousness does not go down well in the morning, and especially this morning.

    I think many people (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:11:54 AM EST
    who might be "in the middle" have been turned off by the hateful stuff coming from the right recently and the performance by the right this morning is the crowing touch.

    I think most people will be sickened by it and I think it is starting to be the kind of stuff that breeds backlashes.

    the thing Ted is teaching us today is that the hate and venom of the right truly knows no bounds.


    Exceprt from AP article on (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:22:18 AM EST
    TL sidebar:

    As the most prominent liberal of his day, Kennedy was long an easy and popular target for Republicans. . . .

    It is a cliche, yet true, that if his name was invaluable in Democratic fundraising, conservatives long ago discovered they could generate cash simply by telling donors they were doing battle with Kennedy.

    Kennedy, Clinton (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:40:30 AM EST
    were two names most often used in GOP  "Be vewwy, vewwy afwaid!" letters.

    Kennedy is no longer available and Clinton is no longer a Senator.  Who will they target next?


    My former father-in-law was a (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:56:58 AM EST
    committed Kennedy hater.  He was apoplectic when I checked this book out of a FL rental library and had the audacity to read it in his presence:  Schlesinger Jr. Arthur M. Robert Kennedy and His Times (1978),  

    Schlesinger's book (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by brodie on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:56:04 AM EST
    even though 30 yrs old is still the best one on RFK.  I have the updated paperback version from a few yrs ago (worth the price just for the new intro where AS Jr debunks a number of idiotic and baseless tales that keep seeing their way into print).

    As with the Clintons, there are not that many good (and especially, fair) books on K family members, percentage-wise, from the book publishing industry -- most have sought out authors far too willing to deal in thinly sourced or just made up stories dealing in the usual dirt.


    Thanks to Obama (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by sallywally on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:02:34 AM EST
    Clinton is out of the Senate, where she might have led the health care push.

    Kind of a Strange Comment (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by daring grace on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:23:52 AM EST
    Reads like Hillary Clinton was shanghaied out of the senate by Obama against her will.

    Yeah... (none / 0) (#45)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:42:00 AM EST
    ...did the Kenyan socialistnazi hold a gun to her head to force her to accept the SOS post against her will?  

    please stop with the (none / 0) (#49)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:19:23 PM EST
    Obama/Hillary bitterness.

    ??? Funny...I didn't read it (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:56:35 PM EST
    that way at all.

    Actually, I don't think Hillary could have led the fight for HCR in the Senate any more than Teddy could, skills or no skills.  Although more blue dogs might have listened to her than to Ted.  Hard to say...


    as Hills biggest fan (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:21:45 PM EST
    I am completely comfortable thinking that this endeavor would have been even more star crossed if Hillary was in charge.  the republicans would have started the match on third base because Hillary would have been fighting both the crazy right wing AND the msm as they hurried to give even more credence to their lunatic ravings than they have been with Obama because of their uniform unreasoned hatred of anything Clinton.

    What Might Have Been (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by daring grace on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:36:01 PM EST
    I've been reflecting today on how HRC might have developed into a Ted Kennedy type figure if she had stayed in the senate another 10-20 yrs.

    Just the time she was there, she seemed to be a formidable force with her grasp of policy, her energy and the way she was beginning to win over colleagues across the aisle. Don't know if or how much it might have translated into alliances and votes.

    I'm happy she's SOS, but still...


    I tend to agree with you, Capt. n/t (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:38:22 PM EST
    Pat Buchanan and crazy Joe (none / 0) (#22)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:47:34 AM EST
    were chortling about this this morning.
    they still have Nancy and Obama to hate on.

    Wonder why Reid (none / 0) (#28)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:53:34 AM EST
    doesn't draw their fire.

    Pelosi - I knew I forgot someone!   She is definitely on their top ten list, but without the generations of rhetoric and propaganda that Clinton and Kennedy did.


    true enough (none / 0) (#31)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:57:01 AM EST
    Nancy will never be able to touch the unreasoned hatred leveled at the Clintons and the Kennedys.

    honestly I think the fact that Grassley (for example) is is influencing the health care discussions as much as he is makes it fairly obvious why Harry does not draw their fire.


    Clinton and Kennedy could sell policies (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Lacey on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:15:47 PM EST
    Reid and Pelosi may be fine behind the scenes, although that's still open to debate, but Clinton and Kennedy were able to sell ideas to the general public in a way that most politicians can't. The right hated Kennedy, and still hates Clinton, more because those two were able to sell liberal ideas in a way that scares conservatives.  

    And Tip O'Neill before him. n/t (none / 0) (#54)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:52:23 PM EST
    I didn't even have to turn on C-Span (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:30:47 AM EST
    Just the office 'water-cooler' talk was disgusting enough. The hate machine has turned the environment so toxic that people feel it appropriate to spew this crap in public.

    My best glare shut them up, at least within my hearing.


    Thank you BTD (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by vigkat on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:05:00 AM EST
    For finding the appropriate words to highlight the true nature of Senator Kennedy's legacy -- the way he conducted himself legislatively and politically, and the fierceness with which he consistently fought for the better good.

    My current fear (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Makarov on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:29:32 AM EST
    is that current health care "reform" proposed in Congress will result in a mandate for poor people to buy junk health insurance (high copays, cost sharing, and deductibles) that will enrich insurance companies. How ironic will it be if this type of "reform" will bear his name - the Ted Kennedy Health Care Act?

    Who can say how legislation would have differed if he'd been well enough to lead the legislative effort this time around? All I know is he did do one thing to help it become what it is now - he and his worked to elect Barack Obama throughout the primaries.

    We're now reaping what he sowed.

    Yes, that's what I fear too (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by Sasha CA on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:32:37 PM EST
    For many of the working poor, having health insurance with a deductible or copay of even a couple of hundred dollars means they might as well not have any insurance at all. People who struggle to put food on the table by the end of the month do not have an extra $200-$300 lying around to pay for health care. I'm afraid we'll end up with a plan that will force these people to spend a portion of their already very limited incomes on "insurance" that they'll never be able to use due to unaffordable deductibles/copays. Of course that would suit the health insurance industry just fine.

    You hit the nail on the head (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:55:40 PM EST
    Forcing the working poor to purchase junk insurance even if partially subsidized, will do more harm than good as you so clearly state. We would be better off subsidizing more health care clinics that charge on a sliding scale than make them purchase insurance that they will not be able to use.

    His work is his legacy (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by CST on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:32:21 AM EST
    He was a tireless advocate for the causes closest to his heart.  He did so much for so many both nationally and closer to home.  His work in constituent services has made MA a better place to live, and helped make us a leader in education and healthcare.  He would go out on a limb for people, and fought for what he believed in.

    I thought this was a good article highlighting some of his causes back home.  He will be greatly missed.  He was a major force at shaping MA into what it is today.

    His constituent services (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:38:37 PM EST
    staff was absolutely awesome.  They could, and regularly did, quietly accomplish miracles.

    not fair (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by CST on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:39:32 AM EST
    even Ted himself was looking for a way to step aside.  We weren't "tossing him" we were trying to find a way to best keep his legacy alive.  And that meant replacing him.  Which he knew himself and asked for.

    Not fair does not even begin to describe it (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:43:04 AM EST
    I have suspected that that commenter, who recently rejoined us under a new name, is a zombie who I banned earlier and I see it now very clearly.

    This faux concern about whatever so called sensibilities he supposedly identified.

    Nothing of the sort.

    Another hater.

    The commenter is banned for the day and if he returns with the same attitude will be banned from my threads permanently.


    as I remember (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:49:45 AM EST
    any conversation of him stepping aside was filled with praise for him.  including praise for this request for a special election.

    As I recall the discussion here, MA law (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:03:16 AM EST
    requires a special election, but Sen. Kennedy sent a letter requesting the law be changed to permit an interim appointment followed by a special election.  

    How disgraceful of you (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:40:22 AM EST
    Even now, when he has passed, you engage in personal point scoring, as you see it.

    What a disgraceful comment.

    Please leave my threads for the rest of the day.

    Come back tomorrow.

    Since Planet Telex (none / 0) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:10:03 AM EST
    did not respect the suspension for the day I mandated, he is now permanently banned from my threads.

    Do not respond to his comments as they will be deleted.


    he is now banned from the site (none / 0) (#74)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Aug 29, 2009 at 11:10:41 AM EST
    What students are taught . . . (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:50:05 AM EST
    and not taught, thanks to that $%^$#@!~~! NCHB act, is awful.  Ouch, you had to remind me.

    We're not going to get the health care act that TK wanted, so perhaps the president could at least put in motion some major amendments to the NCHB act.  It's a horrible law and awful legacy for TK, who deserves better for his work for education.  

    cx: NCLB act (none / 0) (#34)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:00:32 AM EST
    Must have more caffeine, must have more caffeine. . . .

    I hear constantly (none / 0) (#39)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:04:48 AM EST
    from my teacher relatives (there are four in the close family) how terrible NCLB was.
    honest question; (since not being directly effected I never paid that much attention to it) how much of that was the bill Kennedy was for and how much was the Bush implementation of the bill?

    Ah, the power of agencies (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:36:20 AM EST
    such as the Dept. of Education is, of course, immense.  Agencies' interpretations are key -- and thus I have serious concern for some of the conciliatory appointments being made now; Bush sure didn't attempt conciliatory appointments in agencies.

    So the crucial role that Dems could have played was in the devilish details that ever are significant, the subclauses and such that deal with enforcement.  I'm no expert on NCLB, but from what I could see -- and can see in a huge school district that is deemed "behind," so is being punished rather than helped -- doing due diligence on this drudgery of bill-writing is where Dems fell down again.  

    Let that be a lesson about due diligence in the drudgery of attending to subclauses and such in the thousands of pages of current health "care" bills.


    Students are certainly "not taught" (none / 0) (#41)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:11:00 AM EST
    a lot of stuff preceding generations had to learn. Names of states, state capitols, geography, history, creative writing, explorers (scandalous!! (snk), so much.

    Yes, it is daunting to try to teach (none / 0) (#44)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:40:03 AM EST
    U.S. history, for example, when a quick quiz of a college class reveals that many really have no idea when Lincoln was president -- or even when the Civil War was.  The guesses would make you cry.

    And if they aren't learning ye olde traditional guy history -- presidents, wars -- then what are they learning?  Not much history, as commission after commission has found.  But funding goes to strange NCLB side-effects rather than to a lot of "basics."


    The Latino boy I have tutored (none / 0) (#46)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:45:28 AM EST
    since kindergarten (he is just starting sixth grade this week) is a math ace and soaks up science information.  He is not so keen on reading and writing, although he is competent at both.  His first two years were in a Spanish-speaking class.  He is bilingual.  Wish he was exposed at school to more history and literature.  

    You could introduce him (none / 0) (#52)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:38:51 PM EST
    to some of both!  ie. HG Wells, Robert Heinlein come to mind.  I'm not up on the current crop of great writers who mix hard science with storytelling but I'm sure the genre has produced some wonderful current books not too advanced for a smart, interested eleven year old.

    Another avenue to history is biography and there are some truly wonderful biographies of scientists, from Einstein to ... Well, if you'll google 'scientists biographies for kids' you'll find plenty to work with!


    I'm doing my best. (none / 0) (#57)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:57:32 PM EST
    Lots of field trips, including stopping by the library en route.

    wow (none / 0) (#59)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:17:38 PM EST
    I first read that
    "the Latino boy I have tortured"

    totally reading to much about torture these days.


    Good on ya! (none / 0) (#62)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:29:12 PM EST
    And lots of good stuff in those second-hand/used bookstores...cheap paperbacks galore!

    Field trips...so great...


    The field trips are fun and (none / 0) (#66)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:55:01 PM EST
    welcomed.  Reading not so much.  

    Find something he likes (none / 0) (#69)
    by caseyOR on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 03:09:03 PM EST
    My grandmother taught 2nd grade for nearly 60 years. She specialized in teaching reading. Her advice to my parents when my sibs and I were young was to "let them read whatever they want."

    She urged my folks to help us find something, anything, we liked and let us read it, even the dreaded comic books.  One of my sisters became an avid reader when she discovered the "Man from Uncle" books, based on the TV series of the same name. Her reading expanded out from there.

    I don't know much about comics (despite Grandma's advice my parents hated them), but I believe their subject matter ranges far and wide. Maybe there is something to spark the interest of your student.


    He enjoyed the Magic Treehouse series (none / 0) (#73)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 03:40:19 PM EST
    but now the books are "too easy."  Not at all interested in Harry Potter.  Very interested in DK explorer books on science and history.

    I spent some time in VA this summer and was amazed at how the Civil War is still part-n-parcel of that state's culture.

    Where I grew up in NJ our main focus was the Revolutionary War.

    Out here in CA it seems all the kids learn about are the Missions...


    History (none / 0) (#68)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 03:03:49 PM EST
    I had the greatest history teacher in the world. He didn't care if you brought a cheat sheet about dates or names for a test. His concern is that you understood why and what the consequences were.

    This is a lie (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:53:01 AM EST
    "people here were ready and willing to toss him aside without even mentioning that fact in their zeal"

    "The Dream Will Never Die" (none / 0) (#5)
    by Saul on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:20:06 AM EST
    the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

      Those words should be an inspiration to other democrats to continue the fight.  His death should be a catalyst to push the health care bill forward to a meaningful conclusion.

    If it passes the bill should be named in his honor.

    Only a Good Bill (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by cal1942 on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:25:48 AM EST
    If what's passed is drek then I hope those responsible will at least have the decency to recognize that fact and refrain from putting his name on damaged goods.

    AP article includes statement Sen. (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:29:10 AM EST
    Kennedy later regretted he refused to compromise re Pres. Nixon's health care bill.  And this motivated Kennedy to try and remedy his error.  Any recollection of this?  What did Nixon propose?

    Lesson learned is not letting (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 12:49:45 PM EST
    the perfect be the enemy of the good.  But that was 35 (yes, THIRTY-FIVE) years ago.  And in all that time, we've had a few Democratic presidents with Democratic congresses...so what I don't really get is why the Kennedy knowhow and effectiveness as a legislator never did produce the desired legislation...to this very day.

    I think the answer lies in the current debate (none / 0) (#61)
    by Lacey on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:22:10 PM EST
    Passing any kind of health care reform is very, very difficult. You have huge insurance companies involved. Conservatives who don't believe, philosophically, that the government shouldn't doing anything. Republicans that want to score political points. A very engaged senior population fearful of what may happen to their healthcare. I could go on and on. But basically, there are a lot of powerful interests that would rather have nothing change.

    Nope. Sorry. Not gonna (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 01:35:48 PM EST
    buy it.  Certainly not in '93-94.

    Not that I disagree with anything you say...it's all true...more now than ever.  But those are the hurdles leadership overcomes if it is effective. On healthcare, as the Clintons learned, incrementalism was the route to change at all, for Democrats in the congress were so self-centered they didn't even see Gingrich's revolution coming.  Clueless.


    Which would likely lead me and others to say (none / 0) (#67)
    by Lacey on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 02:08:17 PM EST
    That Democrats have not been very effective leaders, on health care at least, for some 35 years. But I don't know if there is any one person to blame. It seems the system is rigged to ensure that something as big as health care is nearly impossible to reform.

    It's not about blame. (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 03:26:10 PM EST
    It's about reality.  And recognizing reality.  And leadership and success...and knowing the difference between talk and and persuasion.

    If the system is rigged, who can unrig it if not the congress and their own president?  Didn't seem to be rigged for Bush/Cheney...even when they lost a congressional majority.  How do you explain their almost total success in policy (except for immigration, of course)?  And, of course, with Teddy's help they tackled ed reform.  Surely that was as 'big' as healthcare, no?  They got it done.  With Democrats taking the responsibility for successes but not the blame for its failures.

    Unlike Respublicans, Democrats are not reality based.  I've come to think that really is the difference for most.  Wishful thinking is Democrats' specialty.  No wonder they went for 'change you can believe in' and no wonder I didn't.

    I'm not a believer person...not since I was eleven and went 'over the hill' instead of to mass on Sundays.


    Employer mandate (none / 0) (#26)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:51:06 AM EST
    IOW, making it law that all employers with over a certain number of employees, can't remember now how many, had to provide health ins. to to their employees.

    It wasn't much compared to what we hope for, but it would have been a big step and one of those camel's noses inside the tent because it would have established health insurance, if not health care, as a basic right.


    Unfortunately, we can't (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by dk on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:34:22 AM EST
    bring Senator Kennedy back, but I hope that the remaining liberals out there fight to bring back the Medicare for All Act that Kennedy sponsored.

    h/t barath at Daily Kos


    Now that would be a real tribute (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:47:57 AM EST
    and one that would have my full support. It is beautiful in its simplicity and would actually provide health care not just high priced insurance.

    I would hope you put some restrictions (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:33:23 AM EST
    on that. Would you want Kennedy's name attached to legislation if the Baucus/Grassley proposals are the end result?

    You don't make bad legislation work by putting a famous name to it.


    That is why (none / 0) (#18)
    by Saul on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:40:21 AM EST
    I put the word Meaningful in my statement

    Putting Kennedy's name on (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:37:54 AM EST
    the current proposals would be a slap in the face to what Kennedy stood for; it would not wave a magic wand and transform bad legislation into good.

    In my opinion, it would be nothing more than a cheap political trick that would not serve the interests of the people.

    I would much prefer that Democrats honor Kennedy's life and work by standing up for the people he always stood up for and the nation he was so dedicated to, and pass legislation that focuses on expanding access to health CARE, not guaranteeing the insurance companies record profits.

    I'm not holding my breath.


    said that in the other thread (none / 0) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 10:29:56 AM EST
    or do it now.  it could help to pass it.