The Liberal Gipper
My mother was in love with the Kennedy mystique, especially with JFK.And while I am close to Dennis Perrin's age, Dennis being similarly impressed with Teddy, I nevertheless have difficulty sharing his enthusiasm, or my late mother's. Dennis rightly notes Carter's rightward tilt, and certainly Carter started some of the unfortunate deregulation that Reagan subsequently kicked into high gear. All the same, I don't think Carter was as ideologically indistinguishable from Reagan as Obama seems compared to McCain-- and I wonder to what degree we have Teddy Kennedy's hubris in staying in the democratic race just past the bitter end to thank for Reagan being elected in 1980.
From my vantage point it seems that a lot of left-wing bloggers who frequently bash Obama, however right they may be in doing so, often have something of a tin ear when it comes to "less-sexy" domestic policy issues. If they praise Kennedy for being to the left of Carter and a "liberal lion", I can't help but think that they fail to see Kennedy's blindness in dealing with Obama and his wretched, poisonous, healthcare plan. The ancient Greeks used to say you could not judge the quality of a man's life until his very last breath. My primitive understanding of Western classical culture being what it is, I think they were talking about the private,personal quality of life the person experienced, as opposed to the person's public character, so it's an ill-fitting metaphor-- but I'll use it.
Yes, Ted Kennedy did some good things, like help foster the COBRA healthcare act, but he himself described universal healthcare as the cause of his life, and if you judge him by what he did to help usher it in towards the end, he blew it pretty badly.
Read his July 18th essay in Newsweek, also entitled "The cause of my life" in which he criticizes Jimmy Carter for what he calls his piecemeal approach in 1980, and says, regarding the current legislative effort, that "Incremental measures won't suffice anymore." But then Kennedy goes on to say he doesn't support a single-payer scheme because he feels it's impractical, and he does support a "public option", as well as individual mandates. (But hey, Carter's approach was piecemeal.)
Kennedy was dying and he knew it, but as far as I can tell he said nothing about the gradual gutting of the legislation over the course of the summer, nor anything about Obama's very public vacillation regarding his support for the public option. www.honorkennedy.com