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Health-Care Reform: A Kennedy Memorial?

Our readers have are engaged in debate about whether Congress can find a way to pass meaningful health-care reform as a memorial to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Many Senators and commentators have talked in the past 24 hours about Kennedy's ability to work across the aisle and how his cancer deprived health-care reform of its greatest champion. But as Shailagh Murray writes, "Leading Republican senators hinted that no Democrat seemed ready to assume Kennedy's traditional role both in crafting a political compromise and in selling it to the Democratic base. "

Some readers think health-care reform would be a fitting memorial to Kennedy. Others find that crass. On the substance of the reform issues, the comments echo what we have heard from readers in the preceding weeks. Kennedy haters have been around forever, and even at this hour there are those who will recall Chappaquiddick and spew hate.

We'll star with 1964, who wrote, "A great man died. And a lot of small dogs are barking, hoping to outdo his greatness with noise. Ted Kennedy was the single truest senator and friend of the American people. The loss is immense. It would only be fair to pass universal health care with a genuine, strong public option and name it in his name. He doesn't deserve anything less. Nor does the American people. May he rest in peace."

But JohnGalt9 said, "Using the death of a man, any man, for pushing one side's legislation is the crassest, shady and lowbrow action that one can imagine, and one imagines the worst from politicians. Leave Kennedy alone, and enter into a discussion of a healthcare reform on merits alone, and merits only. No hope of such elevated approach from Obama!!"

thmas responded, "At least, it's clear there's no hope of honest discussion from you, John Galt. Your post is in poor taste -- not that you probably can figure that out."

mrwood1 wrote, "Both parties mourn?! What, are you kidding?? There is not one single republician in this country that isn't havinging a kegger tonight to celebrate... We have lost the greatest champion for the working class this country ever had. I pray that someone has the courage to pick up and continue his work."

greenm1 said, "One need only read the comments on right-wing websites or in the forums of newspapers frequented by right-wing believers or trolls. One need only consider the nuts showing up at town hall meetings with guns, as in the weapons that, in the hands of the deranged and sick, killed two of Ted Kennedy's brothers. One need only think of the lies told by Republicans, including the ones quoted in this article. Then one realizes that Ted Kennedy might well have affected the debate, but that all of the reason in the world cannot move the unreasoning and unreasonable."

patriotrebel wrote, "It is plain foolish, stupid and irresponsible to consider passing any legislation on the sole basis of honoring TK. Legislation should be considered only on its merits, potential cost, how it will affect the country in the future, etc...but liberals have always operated on the basis of sentimentality and 'warm fuzzy feelings.' "

hz9604 said, "Using Kennedy's name sentimentally with health care legislation is consistent with the sales job done on health care by Obama which has been disingenuous, deceitful, and downright dishonest. For those who deify Kennedy, do yourselves a favor and read the accounts of Chappaquiddick available on Wikipedia. Kennedy was thrown out of Harvard for cheating. He went to UVA where he left a sizable rap sheet with the Charlottesville police."

But ggwalt wrote, "Whether you right wing thugs like it or not, Senator Kennedy will be remembered as one of the greatest senators in American history. The tragedies and mistakes he made only made him a more compassionate, generous, decent person who constantly advocated for the more disadvantaged in our society... Reform healthcare... The bill should be named after Kennedy in his honor."

MET9 said, "... hopefully the crooks that are still alive in Washington will get to the business of reforming our health care system into something that no longer allows these companies to raise premiums to the point that they are more than it costs to keep a roof over our heads or feed our families."

The last sentence of Murray's story said, "Persuading the Democratic base to bend on provisions otherwise held as fundamental may be the single most important challenge for party leaders in the weeks ahead." This caused herzliebster to complain that "Now here's the "liberal press" WaPo speaking: NOTHING about the need to persuade the Republican base and talk machine to stop deliberately promulgating LIES for the sole purpose of breaking President Obama, with total disregard for the actual well-being of millions of American citizens."

nana1ellen wrote, "So Judd Gregg is sitting out the so-called Medicare reforms. He and every Senator and congressman up there had better remember that we seniors vote in the largest percentage of any demographic, and our numbers are quite large. They had better be very careful or no one up for re-election in 1210 or 1212 will be sent back there."

sirajul_islam_1 said, "...No matter what the American government does, regarding their health care issue, it won't succeed because the big interest groups' ultimate goal is about making money. Ted's dream of universal healthcare will never be succeed in America because of this money influence. Too bad a few in America wants to admit this truth."

edallan wrote, "Given that a bill did pass Senator Kennedy's own committee, given that they know full well that their fellow Republican senators have their hearts set on blocking ANY kind of meaningful health reform, and given that they themselves seem to have done NOTHING to foster bipartisanship, for people like John McCain or Orrin Hatch -- who certainly know better -- to claim "if only" is more than a little bit dishonest, hypocritical, and out and out scummy."

fida2007 said, "His services were not on COMMERCIAL but humanitarian grounds which makes a good case for thorough soul searching rising above party and other considerations."

nharewp wrote, "An election was held between the bipartisans and one party won both the presidency and the Congress. All this bipartisanism, especially given the politics and tactics of the losers, is tantamount to reversing the will of the people... Pass the bill, in Ted's name, and give Anericans the adequate healthcare he wanted for them, without compromise with its devious detractors."

We'll close with lidiworks1, who said, "It's a shame really that after all these years, apparently congress still hasn't learned from the efforts they credit Kennedy with. His biggest push was always put the average people first. But it seems that we still have leaders, both Republican and Democrat, that don't feel answerable to us."

All comments on the article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  August 27, 2009; 6:26 AM ET
 | Tags: Health-Care Reform, Kennedy, Senate  
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Senator Kennedy had a long and distinguished career in the senate, and was known as one of those who could work across the aisle.

Is it not ironic then, that in the name of Senator Kennedy, the hard left wing of the party is trying to ram through contraversial leglislation which many Americans voice strong objection in his name? Is this the sort of tribute he would want, a partisan bad bill pushed forward without input from the other side?

It is really sad that the hard left would so callously use his name to force through yet another bad piece of leglislation. Rather than foam at the mouth about some who spew Kennedy hate, should you not reign in the more sociopathic elements of your own party who will stoop to any low to achieve their ends?

Posted by: Wiggan | August 28, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

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