by Phil Lawler
The Kennedy dynasty has ended.
It was probably over in August, when Ted Kennedy died, because the long love affair between the Kennedy family and the voters of Massachusetts was personal rather than political. Another member of the Kennedy clan might have claimed that extraordinary legacy, but when the family could not produce a political heir, the Kennedy mystique could not be transferred to another Democratic candidate.
With the victory of Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special election on January 19, the end of the Kennedy dynasty was announced clearly to the world. A Senate seat that has been held since 1952 by a member of the Kennedy family (or, for two short stretches, by college roommates who served as designated place-holders for the Kennedys) is now held by a Republican. The political landscape of Massachusetts has been changed forever.
There are rich ironies in the stunning result from Massachusetts. For decades Ted Kennedy had fought for a sweeping national health-care reform. The “Obamacare” program, which was so close to Congressional approval, would surely have been packaged as a posthumous tribute to the late Senator’s efforts. Now that legislation may be doomed by the opposition of the man who will replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate.
To compound the irony, Scott Brown is a US Senator today only because on his deathbed Ted Kennedy asked for, and won, a change in the state laws governing a special election. If the law had not been changed, his permanent successor would have been elected in November 2010. Kennedy’s own hand-picked replacement, Paul Kirk, would have remained in the Senate for nearly another full year, during which time he might well have cast the deciding vote in favor of health-care reform. But now Kirk—whose temporary authority ended with the election—is powerless to advance his old friend's plans.
In a final irony, Scott Brown won the election in part because he convinced the voters of Massachusetts that he—not the liberal Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley—embodied the spirit that John F. Kennedy had brought to Massachusetts politics. In campaign ads, Brown reminded his constituency that Jack Kennedy favored tax cuts and strong national defense. The Republican candidate boldly severed the ties between President Kennedy—who would be judged a conservative by today’s standards—and the liberal Democrats who have long laid claim to the “Camelot” legacy... Read the whole article.
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- Fr. Christopher George Phillips
- Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.