Posted by Leo Shishmanian on 21 August, 2009 at 5:33 pm. 21 comments already!


My heart goes out to Massachusetts senior Senator Ted Kennedy as he battles fatal brain cancer. No one should have to suffer slowly toward their demise. That said, Kennedy’s latest–and perhaps his last–major act as a senator constitutes nothing short of blatant political corruption.

Usually, politicians try to keep their wrongdoings shrouded from view in darkened rooms. It’s easier to get away with what you want when the lights are off. For example:

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford went to Argentina to have an affair.

John Edwards fathered a child out of wedlock while his wife had cancer and convinced a loyal aid to initially take the fall. Cue the National Enquirer and federal grand juries.

Congressman John Murtha met in private with undercover federal agents posing as Middle Eastern businessmen during the ABSCAM scandal 30 years ago but avoided prosecution by testifying as an unindicted co-conspiritor. When asked about accepting $50,000 in bribe money, Murtha said he was not interested “at this point” but could be later as they got to know each other.

Former Congressman Mark Foley resigned in disgrace after it was discovered he had sent sexually explicit messages to a former page.

Congressman Barney Frank’s former “roommate” was running a gay prostitution ring out of their DC apartment.

There are many others on both sides of the aisle who’ve had their private sins exposed. Some committed crimes while others committed only acts of paramount stupidity. But all were done in a clandestine fashion for obvious reasons.

That’s what makes Senator Kennedy’s impolitic public pronouncement that he is seeking to change his state’s senatorial succession law in anticipation of his death so shocking in its brazenness.

Democrat-controlled Massachusetts changed the state’s senatorial succession law in 2004. Previously, the state’s governor had the power to appoint a replacement senator until an election could be held. You’ll recall, however, in 2004 the state’s junior senator, John Kerry, was the Democrat nominee for president but the governor at the time was a dastardly Republican: Mitt Romney. So, in an effort to deprive Romney of this power in the event of Kerry’s election, the state legislature changed the rules to require a special election for the replacement.

Fast forward to 2009. Massachusetts now has a Democrat governor and Senator Kennedy’s condition will soon render him unable to serve and the end of his life is hastening. The timing couldn’t be worse for Kennedy because of his career-long interest in the issue of health care for all Americans–unless, of course, your last name is Kopechne.

It’s also poor timing for Congressional Democrats. If Kennedy vacates his seat during the health care reform debate (or is it health insurance reform now? I can’t keep it straight), then the special election must be held between 145 and 160 days after the vacancy. That’s five months of Massachusetts having only one senator and Senate Democrats being short of the filibuster-proof majority.

The Democrat solution to this thorny problem? Change the law back! It sure would be nice to change the system now that someone friendly is in the state house. To that end, Kennedy sent a letter to Governor Duval Patrick pushing for the change already pending in the state legislature. “It is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election,” Kennedy said in the letter supporting the legislation to Governor Patrick.

In response to which I posit this query: Why?

Senator Kerry is certainly pompous and windy enough to speak for the people of Massachusetts by himself. Another far-left voice replacing Kennedy’s would add nothing new to the discussion. Kennedy’s letter also suggests the governor, if re-vested with the power to appoint an interim replacement, select someone who commits not to run in the special election. In other words, “Here, warm this seat in the Senate for a few months while we find someone better.” The state would have as much influence if it kept the chair empty. The fact is the Democrats dominate both houses of Congress and control all legislation, whether there are 1 or 2 Massachusetts senators seated. There is virtually nothing stopping them from passing any law they get behind but they are acting as if they have a razor-thin margin.

And yet the health care debate has become a debacle for them and President Obama. The grass roots–and, yes, they are real as I know and hear from hundreds of them–are energized and mobilized to prevent a socialist legislative takeover of the industry. The Democrats’ plans won’t do that in one fell swoop but will be a big step in that direction. The revelation that relatives and associates of chief presidential aides, including David Axelrod, are financially benefiting from the debate is not exactly the kind of “change” President Obama championed during the campaign. Indeed, it’s more of the type of corruption we’ve come to expect. That will do nothing to dissuade the protestors.

But, cancer or no, Senator Kennedy’s attempts to change the law just to protect Democrat power is nothing short of incredible. It is gamesmanship of the most cynical variety with politicians granting and denying powers like demi-gods.

I suppose, given the corruption we’ve witnessed, Kennedy’s acts should come as no surprise. They are just the most fragrant example of our political system’s putrescence and the stench is getting worse. Fortunately (and mercifully) for Senator Kennedy, he’ll shuffle off soon enough and the State Run Media will wring their hands in anguish while lionizing the trust-fund multi-millionaire for his life long service to “The Little Man”. Unfortunately for us, he’ll leave behind arrogant abuses of power, corruption and decay for us to fix.

It might be a good thing for there to be one less senator for awhile. It’ll be one less politician to pick your pocket while shaking your hand. One less politician who conveniently forgets his family while freely dropping his pants for paramours. One less politician looking to have his personal interests and accounts padded with special interest money, sweetheart deals, and exemptions from onerous burdens they strap on you. One less politician to act out of expediency by continuing to raise taxes and increase spending instead of making the hard choices true leaders are supposed to make. One less politician to put power and politics above the people and the Constitution.

Let’s hope the Massachusetts electorate will eventually take the opportunity to fill Kennedy’s seat with someone worthy of the office who’ll listen to and lead the constituents, not abolish their power to satisfy a political lust for hegemonic control.

Crossposted from The Los Angeles Examiner

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