By nominating Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court, the Democrats have, however reluctantly or inadvertently, weaned themselves from Warrenism at last. Over the past four decades, as the excesses of the Warren Court provoked the equally ideological excesses of the Rehnquist Court, liberals and conservatives have accused each other of politicizing the judiciary.
The elect and the elected, Robert Lowell said in "Washington in Spring," come here bright as dimes, and stay until they are soft and disheveled. As if acting out the line, there was Edward Moore Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee, conjuring feelings of sympathy and support for Judge Bork every time he intervened. There is hardly a personal tragedy in the husk that he has so patently become, because there never was enough of a nut inside it for even a squirrel to nibble on.
There was always a special patriotism to the speeches of Martin Luther King. No other American orator could bring audiences to their feet by reciting three full stanzas of "My Country, Tis of Thee." From there he often soared across the American landscape in perorations calling on freedom to ring "from the granite peaks of New Hampshire . . . from the mighty Alleghenies of Pennsylvania . . . from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado . . . from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee! Let it ring . . .
In the little town of Boone, Iowa, last month. Senator Edward Kennedy was asked one of the crucial questions of the 1980 campaign. The question was put by Mrs.
If his name had been Edward Moore, as Eddie McCormack bitterly observed in 1962, his candidacy would have been a joke, "but nobody's laughing." And the situation has been much the same for all the 17 years since Edward Moore Kennedy, then only 29, beat McCormack for the right to fill the US Senate seat of his brother. President John Kennedy. And even though Edward Kennedy has had probably as much public attention for all these years as any political figure except the various presidents, nobody's really been looking and listening, either.
Edward Kennedy favors national health insurance, everybody knows. He also favors detente with Soviet Union, a break-up of the big oil companies, immediate normalization of relations with Communist-China, the Equal Rights Amendment and Medicaid-financed abortions. He doesn't think Russian mucking about in Africa should affect our willingness to negotiate arms limitation treaties. He co-sponsored the Humphrey-Hawkins full employment bill. He publicly criticizes human rights violations in Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Nicaragua, but prefers the "quiet approach" to the Soviet Union.
Americans see nothing ignoble in riches, but we are suspicious of money used to elect or to sway politicians. This suspicion that big money taints politics slacked off somewhat with the emergence of big donors who are not beholden to big business. Rockefeller generosity to Republicans has been matched by big labor's generosity to Democrats. The liberal Committee for an Effective Congress came on the scene, followed by Common Cause. The Humphrey and McGovern lists of contributors were not lacking in millionaires.