Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Life After Ted

It seems weird to think of Ted Kennedy as mortal, and yet, he is:
BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, was released from the hospital Wednesday morning, earlier than expected.

When doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital announced Tuesday that the 76-year-old Democrat was suffering from a brain tumor, the news was met with expressions of sadness and support from his Senate colleagues.

Kennedy's physicians said they would consult with him to determine the best course of treatment.

Kennedy is one of only six senators in U.S. history to serve more than 40 years. He is an iconic liberal champion of social issues such as health care, family leave and the minimum wage.
Ironically, he's probably done more for the poor and disenfranchised in this country than any other Kennedy, certainly more in his forty year Senate career than he would have had he won an election for President.

Fate, as Al Gore can tell you, sometimes forces your hand.

The subtext to today's story, that EMK has been released from Mass General Hospital earlier than expected, along with little clues dropped in the news coverage from other sources (Nancy Snyderman, the medical consultant to the Today Show, this morning all but declared Kennedy as dying), leads me to suspect the tumor is a lot further along than we'd be led to believe. Malignant gliomae are cells that reproduce quickly and are very aggressive.

And brain cancer doesn't necessarily have to be the origination of the cancer infestation. One can develop, say, prostate cancer and have it spread along the spinal cord to the brain, triggering this kind of tumor.

It is always fatal. They speak in terms of two to five years horizons. Arlen Specter, who also had this form of cancer, has managed to survive past the five period, but that might be the exception to the rule.

The last liberal in Congress, unless you want to talk about Bernie Sanders, who will replace this lion as the face of progressive politics?

It seems a damned shame now that Barack Obama is running for President, since clearly he could have the kind of impact Kennedy has had, over a far longer term, rather than hit-and-run some policies that will have zero effect once the next President after him is seated. He coulda been a contendah.

There's a pitifully short list of liberals in Congress. Even the people we believed could hold that lamp high, the Barbara Boxers, the Dianne Feinsteins, the Hillary Clintons, the Barack Obamas, have all demonstrated that power means more to them than principle.

Too, it says a lot about the make up of the American electorate that there is no real progressive liberal movement, especially when you contemplate what the liberal movement has meant to the average American (read the top of my blog: "Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act.")

Something to keep in mind for this year's election, one that *should* be a slam dunk for Democrats, but one that we simply cannot take for granted.

I think about the names of the Senators in Congress now...obviously my bias is for the Schumer and Menendez, Dodd and Lautenberg, Clinton and Collins...and I'm not seeing anyone who can replace Ted, at least not in the precious short time it appears we have him around.

This might be the death of liberalism for the foreseeable future. We should mourn.