THE SPINE SEPTEMBER 23, 2009
It ended serenely. Elegantly and meaningfully. Massachusetts mourned Ted Kennedy, and the nation did too. In death as in late life, he was among the people for whom he cared and whom he served. Long long ago he had been a rambunctious and over-privileged preppy, doubtless with many sins. The
American people forgave him and, for his offenses, so did his church. He had corresponded with Pope Benedict and the Holy Father corresponded with him. When he was delivered to the God of his belief he went from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mission Hill, Boston and then was buried in the sorrowful neighborhood of his brothers at Arlington National Cemetery.
But his family can't seem to let well enough alone. Ted's seat is now empty and the Bay State legislature has granted Governor Deval Patrick the duty to name his successor. You would think that Ted's sons and his wife--I don't know whether Joe Kennedy has been heard from--would not have strong preferences for who should succeed their deceased father and husband. Alas, they cannot let go. So they have told everyone that they'd prefer Paul Kirk, an old aide to the senator and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to assume the seat. They have laid on their hands. This is an important move in Massachusetts. Will the governor who has an independent streak be able to resist? Let's hope so. Ten Kennedy's time has come and gone. We should not sully his name with that of a hack. A loyal hack, to be sure.
The Boston Globe also has its views on the matter of the succession. In a Tuesday editorial, it pronounced Michael Dukakis "the best choice to fill Senate vacancy." This is a mortuary preference, lack-luster, self-righteous, and very small in vision. The last time he was put to the test of public preference he failed dismally. The longer his campaign for the presidency lasted the lower he went in the polls until the first Tuesday in November. But if the Democrats want to evoke economic calamity the only more apt person would be Jimmy Carter.
Another person mentioned by the great mentioner is Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogeltree whose last appearance in the news was as the organizer of the Henry Louis Gates jamboree. This would be helpful neither to President Obama nor to Governor Patrick.