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The Real Absence Last Night: Senator Kennedy, It is Time to Resign

I am not a Democrat and I am not a big fan of this latest “stimulus” package, so I didn’t have an emotional stake in last night’s vote in the Senate to finally pass that huge spending bill and send it on to the White House. But there was an event on Capitol Hill last night in which I found drama. I’m not speaking of Senator Sherrod Brown‘s late arrival after his mother’s death, coming in with a solemn face to cast the last vote placing the stimulus package into filibuster-proof territory. Today’s story in the Washington Post was all about Senator Brown’s journey from Ohio to vote, then back to Ohio for his mother’s funeral. It characterized Brown’s vote, cast five long hours after voting began, as the one desperately needed vote for the bill’s passage:

Brown’s was the critical vote Senate Democrats needed to ensure that the signature legislation of President Obama’s young administration passed without a GOP filibuster…. The journey illustrated the extraordinary steps Democrats took to guarantee a major victory…. “There was just no question that Sherrod would have to cast his vote.”

But Sherrod Brown wouldn’t have had to leave his mother’s memorial and the voting wouldn’t have had to be dragged out for five hours if Senator Edward Kennedy had not been absent from his job. Senator Edward Kennedy didn’t show up. Senator Kennedy is sick. He is more than sick. He is dying from an inoperable, incurable brain tumor. Sherrod Brown’s mother has died, but he has been able to do his work, and in a few short days he will go back to work full time. Let’s face facts: Ted Kennedy isn’t going back to work full time. He is going to die.

Yes, it’s sad. It’s sad when people die. But it’s also sad when other sick people don’t get health care. It’s also sad when nations go off to unnecessary war. It’s also sad when corruption fails to see the light of day because congressional oversight is lacking. It’s also sad when environmental goals are not met. It’s also sad when Americans lose their civil liberties and nobody stops it. Last night’s vote shows how important one Senator can be in shifting the course of a nation’s history for good or bad, and it shows the difference between a healthy Senator able to sacrifice time for his country and an ailing Senator who is unable. Senator Kennedy has been unable to do his job, not just on this vote but on a range of other actions. Senator Kennedy was not able to be there to help pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Senator Kennedy was not able to be there to help pass a law extending environmental protections for 2 million acres of wilderness areas, or to vote to stop conservatives from cutting off health care for poor kids. Senator Kennedy has not extended his cosponsorship to important progressive bills to prevent ocean acification, stop the proliferation of kid-killing cluster bombs, extend Pre-K enrichment or protect the Gulf of the Farallones. I’m sure it isn’t because he wouldn’t be willing. It’s because he isn’t able.

His name is Edward Kennedy, not King Edward Kennedy, not Prince Edward Kennedy, not Lord Edward. His position is not a royal seat. It is a job. He cannot do his job any longer, and yet the job must be done. He has done a great deal in his time in the Senate, and those people who agree with his work shouldn’t be afraid to show their appreciation. But his time is done, and all that he accomplishes by keeping his titular hold on his Senate seat is to silence the voice of someone else who could accomplish something. And yes, there is someone else who could accomplish something. There are many people who could… if Senator Kennedy would acknowledge what’s happening and make his unattended seat available.

Senator Kennedy, letting go is hard, but it is time for you to leave the Senate. It is time to resign.

5 comments to The Real Absence Last Night: Senator Kennedy, It is Time to Resign

  • SOL FIUR

    THIS WORLD IS UGLY ENOUGH WITHOUT THE ABOVE ARTICLE HAVING PUT IN PRINT.JUDGE NOT LESS YOU BE JUDGED BY OTHERS. IT IS HARD TO CONCEIVE THE KIND OF MIND THAT WOULD CONJURE UP SUCH FILTH. SHERROD BROWN CAN’T HELP HIS MOTHERS BUT I AM SURE THAT WHAT HE DID WOULD MEET WITH HER APPROVAL. WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS TO RID THIS WORLD OF CREATURES WITH SUCH MINDS.

  • Jim

    Er… where am I being filthy to Sherrod Brown? This post only tangentially mentions him, and nowhere do I negatively judge him for going to his mother’s bedside. In fact, I compare it positively to the sort of burden being suffered by Edward Kennedy that should lead to Kennedy’s resignation, but clearly not Brown’s. Any filthiness is in your perception of intention, not my actual intention.

    I’d like to think I’m not “conjuring up filth” regarding Edward Kennedy either. It’s not his fault that he’s suffering a malignant and deadly brain cancer. But it is his responsibility to resign when he can no longer do a job that it’s very important someone do.

  • Oragone

    Glad to see someone else thinks it’s time for Ted to step down.

  • Kevin

    SOL FIUR

    why do you think the world is ugly? The sun is shining down on my head and I have a non-empty glass in my hand. half empty or half fun? who knows? at least I am a) not dead yet and b) not dying noticeably as I sit here.

    Ted needs to quit his job and go sailing.

    Sherrod Brown will no doubt find solace in his work.

  • Joe T

    Let us all not forget, that he is also pulling a paycheck for NO WORK, while I certainly feel for Mr. Kennedy
    and I do not like the man one bit had he not been a Kennedy he would be a convicted felon not a US senator period – anyone remember Martha’s Vinyard and the Chappaquedic (SP)event where a young woman died??
    I wish no ill will to ole Teddy, in fact I hope he has a miracle and his tumor goes away somehow but the fact is this, how many people could keep there job and paycheck and not show up for work?? it really is that simple
    if you can not do your job or any other job due to any type of impairment there is SSD for those under 65 or is it 67 I forget and SS for those at or above that age not to mention he will pull a hefty pension and has free medical (the best plan in the US) for life. It is my opinion that this is a selfish act. there should be a special election and another senator elected. There is no other argument with any merit on this subject.
    not able to work = no job or pay sorry. senators aids are hired (or are interns) they were not elected and they should not be doing his job for him, has anyone seen teddy? other than trying to throw the first pitch at the redsox opener today? AND BY SEEN I MEAN TALKED TO HIM TO SEE IF HE HAS THE WHERE WITH ALL TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS BEING LEGISLATED AND THE LAWS THAT ARE BEING WRITTEN AND NEED TO BE VOTED ON AGAIN I SAY AIDS ARE NOT ELECTED OFFICIALS AND SHOULD NOT HAVE THE POWER THAT THEY COULD POTENTIALLY HAVE OVER A VERY ILL SENATOR WHO MAY NOT KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH ANY GIVEN PIECE,PART OR SUBJECT MATTER OF THE NEW LAWS BEING PASSED. ALL THAT SAID I DO WISH SENATOR KENNEDY GOD SPEED NO ONE AND I MEAN THIS NO ONE DESERVES TO GO OUT THIS WAY.
    JOE T

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