The question has gone unasked out of respect, or murmured only quietly in back rooms: What about Teddy’s health? Nobody wanted to be the one to say it in public. Nobody had to; once again Ted Kennedy is ahead of us. In a posting late Wednesday at the Boston Globe, comes news that Senator Edward M. Kennedy has authored a letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Congressional leaders requesting that provisions be made for his successor.
Literally generations of politically active American citizens have been motivated to study and participate in the political process by the men–and women–of the Kennedy family (I am one). Since the tragedies of the 60s however, the Old Lion of the family, and, indeed, the US Senate (and Democratic politics as a whole), has been Edward M. Kennedy. The sturm and drang of the current health care fight? That has been his battle cry for decades. Barack Obama? Likely still a Senator if Ted Kennedy had endorsed Hillary Clinton instead. Name an important piece of social legislation passed in the last four plus decades and his fingerprints are on it.
So the question of "what if" about his health is an unpleasant, emotional and difficult one. But recent events have made the question undeniably germane. Senator Kennedy wasn’t present for the Judiciary Committee consideration of Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination; you knew he wanted to be there, but his absence was understandable. When he also was absent from the Senate floor for the historic confirmation vote for Sotomayor, the first Hispanic American elevated to the Court, you had a feeling he was seriously ill. A week later, when he could not attend the presentation when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Barack Obama, a man he likens to his brother John, you knew it was bad. And then he was absent from the funeral for his sister Eunice. Ted Kennedy always gave the eulogies for Kennedy family members; he always had to, and he was always there. Always. Until now.
From The Globe:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant.
In a personal, sometimes wistful letter sent Tuesday to Governor Deval L. Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Read more