Ted Kennedy, R.I.P.

I really don't have anything to add about Ted Kennedy that you're not going to see somewhere else.  I did want to mention that it strikes me as somewhat crazy and absurd that the ability of health care to get the 60 votes it will need in the Senate is suddenly in much more jeopardy because Kennedy has died.  Apparently, it will be 5 months before Massachusettes has a replacement.  Would Republicans really want to win this battle just because Kennedy died?  Absolutely.  Ezra Klein (and matt Yglesias) last week:

But this could be the difference between the 60 votes that could pass health-care reform and the 59 that can't.

That said, this is also the place where the rubber hits the road on
all that talk about Senate civility and courtliness and respect. If the
Massachusetts political order doesn't move to preserve Kennedy's voice,
surely there is some Republican who will agree to trade his vote for
cloture with Ted Kennedy. That is to say, where Kennedy's great friend
Orrin Hatch would have voted to uphold a filibuster, now he will vote
to shut it down, as that's how the vote would have gone if Ted Kennedy
were still alive, and it is neither decent nor small-d democratic to
doom health care because the bill's greatest advocate contracted
incurable brain cancer.

Such a trade would not only be a grand show of respect for Kennedy's
life work, but it would uphold the outcome that Americans chose when
they voted 60 Democrats into office in 2008. Conversely, if not one
Republican can be found who feels enough loyalty to Kennedy to make
sure that his death doesn't kill the work of his life, then what are
all those personal relationships and all that gentility really worth?

Update: Matt Yglesias notes
that Hatch has actually addressed Kennedy's situation directly and
chose to take the opportunity to argue that "a single-payer system that
basically is going to cost an arm and a leg and won’t do the job
anyway." So much for that longtime relationship.




About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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