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A lot of history remembering Teddy, but also the ending of an era. …and of course, if you’re covering an iconic Democrat, especially the last great Kennedy patriarch, the right-wing screed machine isn’t very far behind. Rush Limbaugh couldn’t wait to start, with Glenn Beck’s invoking of Paul Wellstone, with other wingnuts joining in, a case in sheer, unadulterated PANIC!
Emitting flop sweat, as Hannity does whenever he thinks of “The Kennedy Bill,” the right just doesn’t know what to do, especially considering they’ve got no leaders of any class, depth or star power, who know anything about anything, on their side. From Media Matters:
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]
Christopher Hayes brings up a point on which there can be little disagreement:
It occurred to me that if Hillary Clinton had delivered word for word the same speech that Teddy Kennedy did in 1980, his famous, justly praised “The Dream Will Never Die” speech, Clinton would have been excoriated. Kennedy only mentioned Carter one time in that speech. Just sayin’.
That and Teddy’s passing got me to thinking. There has been much talk over the months and years, as people get to know the history of my politics, with people loving to remind me that I was a “Reagan Democrat,” as if it was some crime, especially given the time and temperature of Democratic politics, especially where foreign policy was concerned. See Iran hostage crisis, gas lines (designated days to fill my tank in New York City), Desert One…. Reminding me of when Teddy took on Carter in a primary challenge of all challenges, going all the way to the convention in 1980. When Teddy finally and officially lost the nomination, he could barely tolerate shaking Carter’s hand at the time, with this picture saying it all, Tip O’Neill negotiating the surrender, which was supposed to be an over the head joining of hands of the two rivals. A lot of Democrats felt as Teddy did back then. Not all became “Reagan Democrats,” but standing against Carter, even as Teddy couldn’t make it all the way (stopped in part by history’s ghost of Chappaquiddick), I’m reminded that I never regretted that one vote in ’80. I doubt if Teddy regretted taking on Pres. Carter at the convention either, even though Carter beat him handily. That fight helped inspire him to become the Lion of the Senate.
And just maybe, Sen. Kennedy’s passing and the reminder of all this Liberal Lion of the Senate achieved will make the word liberal something more people will embrace. A word the right learned they had to demonize in order not to be engulfed by its power, and which the passing of Teddy should remind us all is an important word, especially when it comes to enacting policies that actually change peoples lives for the better.
…and for posterity, the front page of today’s Washington Post: