Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ted Kennedy Requests A Successor

Image credit: Senator Kennedy's official Senate website.

A voice that has been notably lacking in the health care reform effort has been Senator Ted Kennedy's (D-MA). He has been battling brain cancer for months, and thus largely unavailable for the debates and maneuverings of the last few months. When I last wrote about him, he had collapsed at President Obama's inauguration. He'd had a successful operation to remove a brain tumor in June of 2008, but "successful" in this case meant they removed the tumor without killing the patient. Now it the Boston Globe reveals that Sen. Kennedy requested last June that Massachusetts' governor find a way to appoint a successor quickly:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant.

In a personal, sometimes wistful letter sent Tuesday to Governor Deval L. Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Kennedy asks that Patrick be given authority to appoint someone to the seat temporarily before voters choose a new senator in a special election.

Kennedy looks To set Stage For Successor

It seems unlikely that Governor Patrick and the legislature will do as Kennedy requests, according to the article:

Democratic lawmakers, then as now in the majority, did not want to give Governor Mitt Romney the chance to fill Kerry’s seat with a Republican if Kerry won the presidency.

Patrick, meanwhile, has dismissed past suggestions that the state change the law back to give him the power to fill a Senate vacancy.

Kennedy looks To set Stage For Successor

It's hard to imagine the Senate without Ted Kennedy. He was first elected when I was in elementary school. As bmaz notes:

[T]he question of "what if" about his health is an unpleasant, emotional and difficult one. But recent events have made the question undeniably germane. Senator Kennedy wasn't present for the Judiciary Committee consideration of Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination; you knew he wanted to be there, but his absence was understandable. When he also was absent from the Senate floor for the historic confirmation vote for Sotomayor, the first Hispanic American elevated to the Court, you had a feeling he was seriously ill. A week later, when he could not attend the presentation when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Barack Obama, a man he likens to his brother John, you knew it was bad. And then he was absent from the funeral for his sister Eunice. Ted Kennedy always gave the eulogies for Kennedy family members; he always had to, and he was always there. Always. Until now.

The Wind And The Lion: Ted Kennedy Mans Up To Mortality

It seems clear that he wants someone there in the Senate who can continue his fight for him. It appears, though, that it won't happen. And, frankly, given what's going on, it's hard to believe there's an adequate replacement.


One Fly said...

I'll lay money there are many happy nutters knowing he won't be with us much longer. Sister just passing and I think he is the last of those kids.

Cujo359 said...

I think you're right, on both counts. He's certainly the last of that generation of Kennedys who are still in politics.