Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Death of a Dynasty Death of a Dream?

Will health care reform die with Ted Kennedy?

At the age of 77, Edward Kennedy passed away last night after a lengthy fight with brain cancer.

In the wake of his passing, many are insisting that his passing is the death of the Kennedy dynasty. As the longest-living of the Kennedy brothers -- John and Robert both met with unfortunately young demises -- Ted Kennedy's passing is at the very least the end of an era.

(Arnold Schwarzenegger, husband to Maria Schriver, continues to govern California. One may question whether or not the Kennedy dynasty is truly dead.)

But some fear that more than simply that era may end with Kennedy's passing. Some worry that Barack Obama's health care reform ambitions -- long championed by Kennedy -- may ultimately die with him.

The so-called public option the Democrats have been pushing as part of their reform package has, amidst vociferous public dissent and the Democrats' own political clumsiness, seemingly become a dead option, as the Democrats seem to have sounded a near-full retreat on the issue.

As Andrew Cohen notes, Ted Kennedy contacted Massachussets governor Deval Patrick via letter and asked him to appoint a replacement for Kennedy in the event of his seat becoming vacant -- as it has today.

Kennedy seems to have been very aware that his passing was quickly approaching. These past few weeks must have been very difficult for him, as he watched a combination of legitimate fiscal concern and sheer hysteria combine with his personal political quest to tear his country apart once again.

Now that Edward Kennedy has passed away, observers are now left to wonder precisely what fate awaits the Obama health care reform package. Will supporters be galvanized by Kennedy's passing and become more determined to make his legacy a reality? Or will they lose heart for another decade?

Only time -- and the resolve of Barack Obama -- will tell.

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