8 a.m. ET: Having been awakened by the news of Edward Kennedy's death Tuesday night, the political world spent Wednesday looking back at his life and today looks forward -- to three days of memorial services and processions, a debate over succession and the still uncertain fate of Kennedy's signature legislative issue.
"The path of remembrance for Senator Edward M. Kennedy will follow the trail of his celebrated life," writes the Boston Globe, as a procession begins today at 1 p.m. to transport Kennedy's body past notable landmarks from his family's biography and concludes Saturday with services in Boston and Arlington that will be attended by the top tier of current and former political luminaries. Reacting to Kennedy's death Wednesday, Vice President Biden was more emotional -- and memorable -- than President Obama was. "The burly, passionate youngest brother of a powerful family, and the cool, slim young candidate from nowhere made an odd couple, but Kennedy seemed to impart to Obama the emotion he was sometimes unable to project," Politico writes. Obama is expected to deliver the main eulogy at Kennedy's funeral Mass Saturday. Bill Clinton always excelled at times of collective mourning. Will Obama?
The media's response to Kennedy's death has been to flood the zone. Time and Newsweek have commemorative issue ready to go, and other magazines are sure to follow. TV networks reaired old documentaries or quickly assembled new ones. Politico's home page is adorned with roughly 30 Kennedy headlines this morning. "There was an unmistakably personal tone to the tributes, the anchors and correspondents sounding as though they, and the country, had lost a friend," observes Howard Kurtz.
Amid the Senate lion's lionization, the occasional contrarian has broken through. Howie Carr writes that "it is important to note that his life was not as simple, nor heroic, as is now being portrayed." On Chappaquiddick, "sometimes Kennedy could seem oblivious even to that ultimate blemish on his career," and Carr frets that "the hagiography will continue throughout the weekend." Blogger JammieWearingFool fears Kennedy's funeral will be politicized -- "a Wellstone memorial on steroids." In a column that includes many positive words, George Will recalls Kennedy's "remarkably meretricious denunciation of Robert Bork" and his "robust condescension regarding Ronald Reagan, whose subsequent landslide victory was proof of a political tide."
On the question of succession, momentum appears to be building behind the idea Kennedy advocated before his death for a change in state law to allow Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary Senator. Patrick endorsed the idea Wednesday, and The Globe reports, "Some on Beacon Hill had been initially cool to the idea of allowing for an interim appointment, but Kennedy’s death Tuesday, plus personal appeals from influential voices, appear to have shifted the dynamic." The state House speaker "has privately expressed his support for the change," while the state Senate president "has signaled that she has softened her opposition and could accept the idea." The Boston Herald writes that "while Patrick hasn’t discussed potential placeholders, the names of former Gov. Michael Dukakis, former Treasurer Shannon O’Brien and former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger have been floated."
As for a special election, no candidates are likely to announce bids at least until after Kennedy's funeral. Barney Frank, unsurprisingly, said Tuesday he "will absolutely not be a candidate for that seat." Vicki Kennedy and Joseph Kennedy II both appear unlikely to run. Politico calls Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, "an early front-runner" for the seat. Two current House members, Steven Lynch and Michael Capuano, are seen as likely candidates for the post, while a former one, Marty Meehan, is not.
Will Kennedy's death breathe new life into the prospects for health-care reform? It's hard to envision any Republicans -- or even many moderate Democrats -- changing their position on legislation that would alter a big chunk of the economy just because it would be a nice tribute to a fallen colleague. The New York Times writes that "the senator’s death should provide at least a temporary respite from the angry denunciations that flowed this summer," but "Republicans said they did not ultimately expect much change in the health debate." And, the Washington Post points out, "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."
August 27, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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