Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mission for the Mourner-in-Chief

It will be a short trip for Barack Obama from his vacation site in Martha's Vineyard to Ted Kennedy's funeral in Boston Saturday, but the Senator's interment will be the start of a longer, tougher journey for the President.

He will have to follow his mourning by channeling the departed's gift for inside politics, summoning up Kennedy's legendary blend of toughness and people skills to lure Senators out of their "ideological caves" and come together to rise above lobbyist pressures and political posturing to pass meaningful health care reform

Sen. Robert Byrd suggests today, in expressing grief for Kennedy, that "in his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American."

In the coming weeks, the President will have to put more than Ted Kennedy's name on health care reform. When the eulogies are over, he will have to put the old pol's stamp on his efforts to get a good bill passed by members of the club in which Kennedy spent almost half a century wheeling and dealing.

That would be the tribute Kennedy would cherish most of all.

Update: He can start by convincing Congress and the public to undo Medicare Advantage, "a wasteful bonanza averaging about $17 billion a year for [insurance] companies, which critics say provide few benefits beyond regular Medicare" but that Dr. Karl Rove insists gives seniors "better care and better value for their money."

A year ago, Ted Kennedy rallied from his illness to cast the deciding Senate vote to protect Medicare. The President will have to pick up that torch.

1 comment:

Holte Ender said...

Perhaps all the tributes to Kennedy will inspire Obama's fellow democrats to get busy, and I maybe a few republicans too. I am a dreamer.