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Different Praise for Ted Kennedy

Let me add some unbidden (and probably unwelcome) praise for Ted Kennedy to Harold Meyerson's post. Though it may not be featured in the Ken Burns video tonight, the last lion of liberalism is the main reason for passage of No Child Left Behind education reform and the Medicare prescription drug benefit -- the main domestic legacies of the Bush administration. He was also a major ally in President Bush's attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform, arguing, "It's a defining issue about the kind of country we are. It's a moral issue. It's how we treat people."

Few are willing to honor these achievements. Conservatives generally repudiate them as costly (Medicare) and inappropriately liberal (NCLB and immigration reform). Liberals tend to ignore any accomplishment tainted by Bush's support. But millions of poor seniors still get their prescriptions every month pretty much for free, thanks to Bush and Kennedy.

Kennedy has often been a determined, even ferocious, partisan. But he is primarily a legislator -- actually an increasingly rare calling in the legislature. He has never adopted the viewpoint that a partisan victory is preferable to an actual accomplishment. And that is worthy of praise.

By Michael Gerson  | August 25, 2008; 9:30 PM ET
Categories:  Gerson  | Tags:  Michael Gerson  
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Comments

Well, what we can say about Sen. Kennedy is that he is in the old tradition of a partisan politician - clearly at odds with the rest of society. The many programs that he has trumpted have been at the expense of many hard working Americans. If he so much as felt for one moment that he was trying to benefit the oppressed, then he would have stepped across the aisle and made something happen. Instead, he ahs demanded that poeple step over to his side only. SEN Kennedy has been the agent of change - the wrong change that I believe most Americans are fighting against. Spending millions upon millions of dollars over a long period of time typically ingratiating the rich (see for example "The Big Dig")has made the fabric of America poorer. It has taken me many years to see just how much bluster one individual can make, but the end result is that his presence in the Senate has outlived its usefullness since July 1969, when he should have stepped down as a Senator after driving the car that killed a woman.

What amazes me is how bereft of actual ideas have passed through his mind as orignal ones. He has proved, as a legislator, just how pervasive Government can be. Mandate after mandate, year after year, crushing the American ingenuity and spirit. What could have been- especially in the area of health care - by giving private corporations a chance to help with medical savings accounts- dashed because SEN Kennedy thinks Government knows best. Most Americans- even those in Massachusetts- don't accept this notion. Americans know what is best, and the Government that governs least, governs best. Its a sad day to see SEN Kennedy being praised for his efforts to stunt American growth.

Posted by: Jim | August 25, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

"Well, what we can say about Sen. Kennedy is that he is in the old tradition of a partisan politician - clearly at odds with the rest of society."

Yes, and Pres Bush is the new tradition of a partisan politician-- clearly at odds with about 70% of society.

Politics is politics, my friend.

Posted by: Alan | August 25, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Keep spinning Gerson. From Kennedy's own website regarding No Child Left Behind "the Bush Administration has failed to do its part to provide the resources needed to fully implement these reforms" I realize half truths and disinformation has served you and your great leader well but your 15 minutes are just about up.

Posted by: Mark | August 25, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

A Michael Gerson column under the heading of 'Post Partisan'? Gerson who was a senior policy advisor at the Heritage Foundation, worked as an aide for Dan Coates, wrote speeches for Bob Dole, was recruited by Karl Rove to work for the Bush campaign, was a ghostwriter for Charles Colson, was admired for being the the conscience of the Bush White House, was a member of the White House Iraq Group and proposed the use of a "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" metaphor in an effort to sell the American public on the supposed nuclear dangers posed by Saddam Hussein. That Michael Gerson? This paper moves swiftly towards irrelevancy.

Posted by: Mark G. | August 25, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that Gerson speaks for the Republicans. America will never forget that Michael Gerson crafted George W Bush's lies into speeches designed to mislead us. So when Gerson speaks well of Kennedy it is important to understand that his real motive is the hope that after the staggering loses the republicans have coming, they will still be treated as though they are relevant in congress.

Posted by: Kevin Morgan | August 26, 2008 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Amazing...a pundit compliments someone he usually opposes and critcizes, and all people can do is blast him as a conservative. Post-partisan, indeed.

Posted by: Paul B. | August 26, 2008 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Michael Gerson says:

"But millions of poor seniors still get their prescriptions every month pretty much for free, thanks to Bush and Kennedy."

Has this guy ever looked into the Medicare-D benefits? Obviously not. D stands for Disasterous. and not pretty much for free.

One gets a 90-day supply of an uppermost tier drug like Aramidex for a co-pay of $60 while your annual $3200 allottment is charged at the rate of $540 meaning that Aramidex consumes $2,160 of that annual allotment. Result not much allottment for any other drugs.

Some program? Some accurate report?

Posted by: Arthur B. Hale | August 26, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Senator Kennedy has done more for Americans today than any other living man or woman. He worked to create community health centers, State children's health insurance, Medicaid, grants for college education, the Ryan White Act, and programs to help the disabled live in dignity. He's fought for Medicare, health research and life-saving cures, education reform, a living wage, worker's rights, and safety on the job. Anything to do with Americans' health, the health of their children, their access to opportunities, their right to live the American dream-- Edward Kennedy has led the charge. We owe so much to him, and to the good Democrats and Republicans he's led. Thanks to Kennedy, we still have a strong (albeit shrinking) safety net.

And while the Senator is seen as the liberal lion, frankly it raises some anxieties among conservatives to know that he probably won't be here for the next Presidential elections, four years from now. He won't be there on the Senate floor, working for consensus on important issues, as he has every day, 12 hours a day, for the last 46 years. Even the angriest Republican benefits *every* day from programs and policies that Edward Kennedy took forward. Frankly I don't share his politics, but I'm amazed by his love for others (including hard right Republicans-- Orrin Hatch is one of his best friends!)

So, God save America once Teddy Kennedy has passed along the torch. I hope that the annointed Barack Obama is up to the challenge. I suppose we should trust Kennedy's judgement, because he's always been there for us in the past.

Posted by: Maradona | August 26, 2008 4:32 AM | Report abuse

I watched Ted Kennedy and I was moved and, after eight years of seeing so many incompetant people run this government, Bush, Cheney, Brown, Rumsfeld, I had forgotten that there are truly great Americans working to make things better and at least two of them were on stage last night. First, Carter, who is increasingly looking like the best president of the last thirty years, certainly better than that highly lauded abysmal failure Reagan, and then there is Ted, quite possibly the greatest Senator of all time, the champion of the poor and the disadvantaged. When one looks at the great programs of the twentieth century, Social Security, Civil Rights legislation, the Voting Rights Act, they are all LIBERAL ideas. There is not one positive Conservative development in our history. And Ted is the liberal ideal. He deserved the aclaimation that he received last night. A great man.

Posted by: MarkinN?Y | August 26, 2008 5:54 AM | Report abuse

I sort of agree with Gerson. Kennedy compromised to get the best he could from a really bad bunch. None of it is very good, but it is probably a little better than nothing.

Posted by: Frodot | August 26, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

He is far from perfect; he is not a saint; in 1980 he let personal feelings take over party responsabilities. But to deny the growth and significant contributions of this man, from his days in 1962 to now, shows a meaness unworthy of americans. Millions of Americans are better off because of Ted kennedy's work in the Senate and no one knows better than his republicans colleague.
May God bless him and give him the strength to win one more figth.

Posted by: paul | August 26, 2008 7:20 AM | Report abuse

The Kennedys are overrated. John F. Kennedy wasn't much of a president, but a charismatic iconic figure at best. He could have been a good president, but he would never have been a great president as he wasn't willing to expend the kind of political capital during that contentious era to get big things passed (as LBJ was in getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed).

The Kennedys represented and still represent a kind of not-truly-effective but iconically appealing left-wing ideological aristocracy for the Democrats.

As a functional arm of the party leadership, they aren't particularly bright, effective, productive or leadership. Ted Kennedy himself has blocked windfarms off Massachusetts like the kind Denmark has, so as to not change the view off Martha's Vinyard.

The Kennedys are long-dated, no longer helpful aristocratic iconic figures for the Democrats. They aren't really making a helpful contribution to the party anymore and their interference in the election year politics this year to insert an over-the-top emotional ideological excess into what should have been a push to win at all costs, isn't helping anyone.

Icons become destructive when they insist that they can be useful or take control of a process. At this point, the Kennedys have become baggage from the past that should be let go. The Democratic party needs an intervention or something, to shake them loose from the domination of their imaginations by this attractive, but useless, clan.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 26, 2008 7:20 AM | Report abuse

What AsperGirl said. The Kennedys are trouble.

Posted by: Mediaskeptic | August 26, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

NCLB, medicare prescription drugs, immigration reform are all good ideas that are poorly executed by an administration that dislikes government and is doing their best to govern poorly. Gerson is a primary apologist for this administrations inability to govern and offers little meaningful discourse to any subject.

Posted by: Stan Barkley | August 26, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Gerson's praise was short and that significance should not be lost on anyone.

Posted by: RTGreenwood | August 26, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

To Jim.
You folks in the GOP have proven again and again, you know very little if anything about economics. Stunted growth, you mean like the last 8 years under airhead? The GOP before Reagan did not believe in deficit spending with which I agreed. But in comes Reagan and the deficit under him equals those of every president before him added together. Now we have McCain claiming Obama wants to raise taxes but McCain seeks to keep us in Iraq, against the wishes of the Iraqis at a cost of $10 billion a month. Whew is this money coming from? I guess Republicans figure they can walk into a car dealer, drive away in a car and tell the salesman that his great grand children will pay for it.
If McCain is elected, we get more of the same voodoo economics that we got under Reagan and airhead.

Posted by: chopin224 | August 26, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"No Child Left Behind education reform and the Medicare prescription drug benefit -- the main domestic legacies of the Bush administration." ~ Gerson

__________________________________

They are legacies that will not stand.

No Child Left Behind will be reformed or abolished.

The Medicare prescription drug benefit will also be reformed -- since it is now of little or no benefit to the average Medicare recipient and is simply an unaffordable giveaway to the Drug/Pharma industries. ("...the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003.")

The true domestic legacy of the Bush administration can found in places like New Orleans (still a disaster) and in the size of the National Debt (now perilously close to $10 TRILLION, having almost doubled in the last seven-and-a-half years).

Gerson, having pimped as chief speechwriter and senior adviser to Bush for six years, is one of those responsible for a level of incompetence and a lack of achievement unparalleled in American history.

Posted by: pali2500 | August 26, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I thought the iamge of water used throughout Kennedy's video was a little creepy, considering his little incident with Mary Jo.

Posted by: Steve Bennett | August 26, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

The Bush domestic legacy that Gerson conveniently forgot to mention:

The worst job creation rate in decades.

Stagnant median household income.

Plummeting house values.

Soaring foreclosure rates.

Out-of-control deficits.

Out-of-control health-care costs.

Out-of-control inflation.

A $10 TRILLION National Debt.

New Orleans still a disaster zone.

Ports and borders still wide open and unprotected.

Domestic spying and wiretapping on American citizens.

A demoralized and politicized Justice Department.

A demoralized and humiliated CIA and FBI.

And the list goes on and on....

Posted by: pali2500 | August 26, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Wow, The Talking heads of the Bush Administration are talking about Partisanship, the creators of this bad partisanship, are still bashing the other party, snap out of it, it was you and your bodies(Bush, Chenny and Karl rove) who created this ugly partisan environment.

Posted by: Tony | August 26, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Ted Kennedy, an icon? An icon of what? Bad behavior? Immorality? Stupidity? Arrogance? Yes! To all of the above. I will add that the Medicare Part D Program is a sham. I had to drop it in '08 because the cost far exceeded "the benefits" it supposedly gave to us seniors. I get my most expensive drugs from Canada (the same drugs sold her) for one-third the cost. The Kennedys are over-rated as "liberals" -whatever that means. Winston Churchill said: "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; If you are not a conservative a 40, you have no brains." Works for me.

Posted by: SMiller | August 26, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Ted Kennedy, an icon? An icon of what? Bad behavior? Immorality? Stupidity? Arrogance? Yes! To all of the above. I will add that the Medicare Part D Program is a sham. I had to drop it in '08 because the cost far exceeded "the benefits" it supposedly gave to us seniors. I get my most expensive drugs from Canada (the same drugs sold her) for one-third the cost. The Kennedys are over-rated as "liberals" -whatever that means. Winston Churchill said: "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; If you are not a conservative a 40, you have no brains." Works for me.

**You took the words right out of my mouth**

Posted by: GOP-girl | August 26, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your kind words regarding Senator Kennedy, Gerson.

Posted by: binkynh | August 26, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"What could have been- especially in the area of health care - by giving private corporations a chance to help with medical savings accounts-"

Sure, so Wall Street and CDO hedge fund guys could buy them up, trade them for profit, and then dump them into the garbage bin once they extracted the cash....You must work for one of them.....and think we are stupid.

Posted by: nowhine | August 26, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I had to drop it in '08 because the cost far exceeded "the benefits" it supposedly gave to us seniors. I get my most expensive drugs from Canada (the same drugs sold her) for one-third the cost.

Posted by: SMiller | August 26, 2008 12:08 PM

For someone who seems to be adamantly against government run health care you're certainly happy to partake in its benefits by running over to Canada for price controlled prescription medication.

Posted by: EaglesFanAdam | August 26, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

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