Wednesday, August 19, 2009

KENNEDY, MISSED IN HEALTH CARE DEBATE, MAY NOT BE COMING BACK

Missing from the Senate for much of the last 15 months, since being diagnosed with brain cancer, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) may not be going back to Washington.

According to Politico, a Democratic insider is quoted as saying, “Nobody seems to have any details. It just seems like [Kennedy] is not coming back.”

This apparently does not bode well for Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or President Obama as they try to hold their coalition together in order for the federal government to take over health care.

Throughout his career, Kennedy has been known for reaching compromises within his own party and with Republicans, as he did during the Bush years over the “No Child Left Behind Act” and immigration-reform legislation. Without his presence, some Republicans previously seen as key to advancing a bipartisan health deal are keeping their distance from Democrats.

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history at Princeton University, said Kennedy could help push health care reform over the hurdles it faces by supplying the public passion on the issue that he said Obama has failed to deliver so far.

Now, Zelizer said, Kennedy could be a critical conduit on Capitol Hill, both to Senate Republicans and the Democratic liberal base, and Kennedy could use his political weight to support Obama in the public debates over the issue.

“I think that’s been very harmful,” Zelizer said of Kennedy’s absence.

While the Kennedy name has for two or more generations symbolized a political dynasty in America, it appears Ted Kennedy's days in the Senate are behind him. However, in the end, this may not be a bad thing if stopping the nationalization of health care and further frustrating the efforts to pass the no-vote unionization bill (otherwise known as the oxymoronically-named Employee Free Choice Act) is the result.

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