Thursday, August 27, 2009

Now there are no leaders on Capitol Hill

SEN. TED KENNEDY'S uniquely towering stature in Congress on behalf of the nation has challenged some of his political colleagues to find words on how he might be replaced to move forward with his powerful commitment. That, unfortunately, is a foolish pursuit. He can't be replaced. It not only says much about his own worthiness as a humane figure amid the bruising political brawl of Washington, but also of the barren ground on Capitol Hill these days. Where to turn for leadership today amid the invective that passes itself off as loyal opposition? To John McCain? Harry Reid? Orrin Hatch? Mitch McConnell? Max Baucus? Put the best of their meager talents together and you won't find a hint of leadership. Only arid politicians who are unable to see beyond the trees.

Kennedy went about his work with determined interest and - yes it can be said in a town where pettiness and well-oiled self-interest rule - class. Faultless? Of course not. We all know that story from his past. Certainly he was partisan - a liberal Democrat to the end. But petty. self-consciously in need to award himself merit badges as a crass political operative with his next campaign solely in mind - never. Forever the optimist about what's possible but yet undelivered in America - always and always.

Even in death, his mystique is undiminished as some of his colleagues are proposing to attach his name to a health care reform bill that he long fought for in hopes that it will spur action. Who else could claim that honor on the Senate floor? And at what Town Hall meeting?

I have a photograph of Kennedy taken as I trailed behind him and the late United Rubber Workers chief Peter Bommarito at one of the Akron rubber plants. Although he was a wealthy prince of a family dynasty, Kennedy fervently supported the welfare of the workers and promised to work for them in whatever way he could help. That was back in the 1970s, To no one's surprise, he kept his word. For his long service to the nation, it could be said that he never lost sight of the forest while others dallied at the base of a tree.

There will be a void.

1 comment:

Honest Ed said...

Great description of Kennedy--a true leader. And you're so right, there is no one in sight to evencome close to his leadership and statesmanship.