Senator Edward Kennedy is demonstrating his (seldom doubted) commitment not to end his time on this earth — which has more or less been “dedicated” to “public service” as Senator for Life from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts — without demonstrating, sadly with seem to be literally his last breaths, the full scope of the legacy he both inherited and built upon so magnificently: The Kennedy legacy of naked political cynicism, a literally life-and-death dedication to the maintenance of power, all leveraged cannily with a huge dollop of manipulating tragedy. Jeff Jacoby explains:
Kennedy wants the Legislature to upend the succession law it passed in 2004, when – at his urging – it stripped away the governor’s longstanding power to temporarily fill a Senate vacancy. Back then, John Kerry was a presidential candidate and Republican Mitt Romney was governor; Kennedy lobbied state Democrats to change the law so that Romney couldn’t name Kerry’s successor.
They followed his advice with gusto. When the final vote took place, the Boston Globe reported, “hooting and hollering broke out on the usually staid House floor,” and House Speaker Thomas Finneran acknowledged candidly: “It’s a political deal. It’s very raw politics.”
It still is. Now that Massachusetts has a Democratic governor, Kennedy is lobbying to restore the gubernatorial power to name an interim appointee. That would guarantee Democrats in Washington two reliable Senate votes from Massachusetts, even if Kennedy isn’t there to cast one of them.
It’s not merely that Kennedy considers the Democratic Party the only legitimate representative of the people of the banana commonwealth he represents in Washington. Jacoby doesn’t say it, but I assume that Teddy assumes that his seat is a guaranteed Kennedy inheritance forever. He plainly never merited his first election to the United States Senate and would, given his mixed bag of fairly dubious achievements to that point, not even have been on the most generous short list of prospective candidates but for the ceremonial handing over of his brother John Fitzgerald’s old job to his mediocre, even more unethical younger brother by an electorate that has consistently demonstrated just how distressing democracy can be. Thus Kennedy’s assumption, and it is a reasonable one, is that any number of people possessing the hallowed Kennedy name will and should be given the opportunity never to have to do an honest day’s work or be accountable in their lives again, as long as things like the law are conveniently adjusted to achieve that end.
The Senator for Life (not to be confused with a “pro-life Senator”) is unlikely to be disappointed, and with God’s help he will live to see his expectation of hereditary succession assured. Surely the People will do their theological duty and see to it that there is a Raul for Massachusetts, too.