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8 Months Wasted: Resign, Senator Kennedy, Resign

Senator Edward Kennedy gets Presidential Medal, Is Not ThereHead to the Boston Globe to find the full-size photo of Senator Edward Kennedy receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom. But Senator Edward Kennedy is not there; he’s back in Massachusetts, suffering from brain cancer. The most his son Patrick can tell President Obama after the ceremony is that “he’s understanding everything that is going on, he’s following everything.” Senator Kennedy is dying, and it’s been clear that he’s been dying since the 111th Congress began.

It’s very, very sad that Senator Kennedy is dying. It’s sad when everyone dies. Death is a human constant. The human variable is what a person accomplishes while she or he is capable. Senator Edward Kennedy has accomplished a great deal in his lifetime, but the days of his political accomplishments are over. Witness the U.S. Senate’s roll calls: Kennedy has missed the past 100 votes. He hasn’t shown up to vote in the Senate since April 27, and his record of voting before that date this year has been dismal as well.

It’s not that Edward Kennedy doesn’t want to vote. It’s that he can’t. He isn’t capable. He is incapacitated. He can’t do his job, and there are consequences. Early in the year, Senator Sherrod Brown’s mother died, and despite that he had to hotfoot it over to the Senate to vote on a close bill because Senator Kennedy was incapable of voting. Now, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has allowed a moment of candor to acknowledge that “Contrary to a popular fairy tale, there is no passing comprehensive health reform without 60 votes. Two of our Democrats have had lengthy absences due to health.”

The other health absence to which Wyden refers is that of the aged and confused Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. His absence matters less than Kennedy’s because Byrd is less-often absent, but also because West Virginia is a conservative state and any replacement of his would be a fickle supporter of the progressive agenda. Massachusetts is a strongly progressive state in its politics and Kennedy’s replacement would be willing and able to act in promotion of the progressive agenda.

Some may call it callous to ask an old and ailing man to step aside and allow someone else to do his job. I say it is more callous of an old man to hang onto a job he cannot perform, gumming up an entire raft of legislation that could do well for the country as a result. Thanks to his position of power, Senator Kennedy will have free health care for his brain tumor for the rest of his life, even after he resigns. Because he is unwilling to give up the seat of power he can no longer use, thousands of Americans with brain tumors continue to receive substandard health care, or no health care at all, or health care that leaves their families drowning in debt.

If being a Senator really isn’t all about you, Senator Kennedy, if it’s really all about public service, then please do the public a favor. Resign. Resign and let someone else take the seat you’ve left empty.

10 comments to 8 Months Wasted: Resign, Senator Kennedy, Resign

  • ReMarker

    Most of us appreciate anyone’s sincere efforts to make America a more perfect union. That includes many of Senator Kennedy’s efforts. And most of us are truly sorry Senator Kennedy is struggling with brain cancer and wish the best for him. But most of us know that getting things done (legislatively) for America is bigger than any one person, including our president.

    With that in mind, it is reasonable for Americans to expect that any legislator that doesn’t participate in the process for which they were elected, for whatever reason, make other arrangements so the American interests can be served.

    Jim, that’s the long way of saying I agree with you. And, in addition to your observations, without an ACTIVE legislator, we don’t have the value of THAT legislator adding their “voice” to the debate. At this important time in our history, we need ALL HANDS ON DECK!!!

  • qs

    Maybe Kennedy wants to keep the seat in the family name.

    • ReMarker

      So what? He probably does but that doesn’t trump that America needs ALL HANDS ON DECK!!! We need everyone being vocal about the non-factual, dumb info. spewed by many of the GOP and the radical ultra-conservatives.

  • Miracles hepen in this day and age, and his mother livesd along life. No, I do not thik he should resign

  • Miracles hepen in this day and age, and his mother livesd along life. No, I do not thik he should resig. sorry two peple think my way I only wrote once

  • He is my hero, as a single parent I could not get out of poverty without him. I hope he stays

  • Wholesale

    I think there should be an age cap on holding a Senate seat. Some of those Senators are so old they could die just going to the bathroom.

    Same for the Supreme Court as well—–get an age cap. You did your time let someone else younger experience the moment. Quit being greedy and share the wealth.

    • Jacob

      In some ways I agree with that, but, I think there is also something to be said for wisdom with age. Just because a guy is 75 doest mean he is useless. In fact, I would think that life experiances make him/her more useful and better equipped to deal with situations…

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