Politicizing Kennedy’s Death For Dummies


The echo from my Tweetdeck’s delivery of the sad news had barely died down when conservatives started in: Now that Ted Kennedy had died, liberals had better not “play politics” with his death in order to get health care reform passed.  While I might share a sliver of agreement with the sentiment, we differ wildly on the yardstick.

The very first example of “crass politicization” offered up by conservatives was this Wall Street Journal article:

The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy quickly became a rallying cry for Congress to pass health care overhaul legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office sent an email to reporters at around 2:30 a.m. today, just hours after his death, calling for the passage of health care overhaul. “Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration,” the statement read.

It goes on like that for awhile, quoting various liberals expressing the idea that fulfilling the “cause of (Teddy’s) life” would be a fitting way to honor his life.

That’s not “crass” anything, that’s normal.  When someone dies, you get to rally around your common ground, to carry on their life’s work.  I expect nothing less from conservatives the day after the top-hatted Monopoly Man shuffles off this mortal coil.

Was Knute Rockne’s “Gipper” speech crass?  No, what would have been crass would’ve been if Knute had then yelled at his opponents, “How dare you intercept that pass, this is for the Gipper!”

By the same token, I don’t want to hear Republicans in Congress saying, “How dare you pass that safety regulation?  This is for Monopoly Man!”

And, so, until a Democratic politician tries to beat an opponent over the head, with Teddy as the cudgel, they can all cram their accusations of “politicization.”

All this really is, anyway, is their way of working the ref, getting the media talking about the nebulous idea of politicization, thereby neutralizing the impact of Teddy’s death on the health care debate.  Yeah, that is kinda crass.

My friend, Ed Morrissey, wrote about the possibility of a “Wellstone Effect,” one that didn’t materialize, but it put me in mind of the central problem with this whole issue: intrusion on grief.

Any thinking, feeling human being should be able to understand a little something about the grieving process.  Conservatives experienced it heavily when Reagan passed away not so long ago.  It is a process that ought not to be interfered with, and I would even say it ought not to be scrutinized all that much.  People like this, and people like this, should be ignored, and those grieving should either be supported or left alone.

Millions of Americans loved Teddy and his brothers.  There’s a decent chance that their love and admiration had already led them to trust Ted’s position on health care, and reminding them to act on that is an entirely fitting way to grieve his death.  Shame on anyone who intrudes.


1 Comment

  1. […] death has received almost as much coverage as the death itself.  Immediately, there were accusations of politicization from the right.    Around the web, there has been the requisite cataloging of trollish actions […]

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