I promised myself that I would not write about Kennedy, but I had to get this off my chest. Do the Democrats understand that Teddy Kennedy is not a popular figure outside the Boston to Washington corridor?
In mourning, people may be respectful, reflective or sad. But that does not mean they will automatically adopt his brand of liberalism. Exploiting his name will backfire against the Democrats across much of America, especially in Blue Dog districts.
The irony is that invoking Kennedy may help get a bill passed, but not in the manner the Democratic Leadership anticipates. If any group would be moved to action by sentimental appeals to the Kennedy name, it will be liberals in the North East.
Invoking Kennedy may inspire that demographic to ‘get something done’ because that is what Teddy would have wanted. That attitude would effectively negate the efforts of people like Maxine Waters and Howard Dean, who are threatening to blow the whole thing up if liberals do not get their way.
While the old liberals may be willing to compromise with moderates in an effort to deliver something substantive to the people, the Blue Dogs will be emboldened. Southern and Western Democrats continue to witness how east and west coast liberals have hijacked the process and exluded them. Its still the ultra liberal party of Teddy Kennedy.
Another irony is that a compromise with the Blue Dogs and moderates may have been what Kennedy would have pursued. We often hear Republicans like McCain and Hatch discuss Kennedy’s ability to get things done. It is true. Kennedy was a man of action.
He never let idealism stop liberal progress. He knew how to negotiate and compromise. He took what he could get and moved on. What he couldn’t get he saved for another day. His persistence and tactics are something that conservatives may be wise to adopt.
So the morbid, posthumous attachment of the Kennedy name to the health care debate may be annoying, but it may also have unintended consequences.
The more the Democratic Leadership and mainstream media talk about that link, the more Middle America will continue to realize that the new Democratic party is just like the Old Demcoratic party. Radical, elitist and out of touch.