After I finished my lunch today, I still felt a little hungry, so I decided to suppress my remaining appetite and wander over to the Huffington Post to see how the secular canonization of Ted Kennedy was progressing. I did not have to let my eyes travel far to find a good example of how the left confuses a the latter part of a lifetime of good intentions unchecked by prudence, reflection, or restraint with a love of country worthy of honored memory. Ms. Huffington, in true liberal fashion, shows why their perspective is so poorly suited to the exercise of good governance which they all too often claim.
“Something died in America,” said civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis of Robert F. Kennedy’s untimely death. “Something died within all of us.”
Watching the snippets of Ted Kennedy’s speeches playing again and again on cable and online reminds us of something else that has died in America: the national conversation about what the Bible calls “the least among us.”
It’s been missing for a while. Kennedy’s passing reminds us how much we need to revive it — and make it central to the political debate.
The body has only been at room temperature for a day, and Senate so lacks a self-appointed voice to speak for the poor and forge new chains for them disguised as “benefits”. How ever will we survive?
For over four decades, Kennedy, in his words and his actions, forced us to question how we, as a nation, were treating the poor, the forgotten, the working families struggling to make ends meet. He gave voice to the voiceless, refusing to let us forget about their plight.
For over four decades, Kennedy, a man born with a silver spoon and diapers of fine linen thought so much of the poor that instead of using his own money, and the donations of wealthy friends and colleagues, to help the poor make real lasting changes that would help the poor who were interested in improving their lot in life, determined that doing it with taxpayer money, and all the incidental shipping and handling removed by sticky government fingers along the way would be a much better solution. The funny thing is, after 40 years of the Great [Welfare] Society, there doesn’t seem to be any marked and lasting reduction in the poor among us, which would seem to indicate that failure could be added to the tragedy and the treason that is this Kennedy’s legacy. Unless of course the intent was never to reduce the numbers of the poor in this country, but instead to create a subclass that could be kept enslaved and dependent on government. It might surprise you to know that as of this moment, even I don’t want to be quite that cynical with regard to the man’s ultimate intentions, although I do believe he, and his party, benefited from that very effect.
“Programs may sometimes become obsolete,” he said during his stirring speech at the 1980 Democratic convention, “but the ideal of fairness always endures. Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue… The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs.”
Of course, it never hurt at election time that his idea of ‘fairness’, like so many other liberals, encompassed the practice of generosity with other people’s money, and always just enough to make the recipients recpetive to the idea that their predicament had everything to do with the greed of others who were earning their way in the world, and never enough to bring any lasting change. It simply wouldn’t do to honor the Americans who were paying the tab, because their labors would always ensure a degree of autonomy that the perpetually dependent would never have the luxury to entertain.
As our economic crisis — yes, the one that has come to an end for Wall Street but not the rest of America– threatens to turn the American Dream into a living nightmare for millions of our citizens, those human needs are more pressing than ever. And the work of compassion more necessary than ever. There is a newfound urgency to Ted Kennedy’s message.
An economy crisis precipitated by many of the same liberals fanatically in favor of this healthcare bill, many of whom were too busy feeding like pigs at the trough when there was money to be made by the failure to heed the warning signs the indicated big problems at Fannie and Freddie, and that could have been mitigated if their friends at Countrywide and other lenders didn’t stand to provide them with such wonderful favors for aiding and abetting in the biggest financial shame involving members of the government since ABSCAM. These were the same people who then dig deep in our and our childrens’ pockets to bailout Wall Street and the banks, ensuring that the other guilty parties also got taken care of while we got the bill. This compassion that others always seem to be in need of is really costly, and the ones deciding that we have to pay also seem to be insulated from the consequences of this determination.
His best speeches always spoke to our idealism, calling us to tap into the better angels of our nature. The passion that Kennedy brought to the fight for America’s underprivileged reminds me of the story of abolitionist Wendell Phillips, who, after making an impassioned speech condemning slavery, was asked, “Wendell, why are you so on fire?” Phillips looked at his friend and said: “Brother, I’m on fire because I have mountains of ice before me to melt.”
And the gratuitous comparison with someone seeking to make good on the promise of liberty for all Americans, as opposed to someone who deliberately decided to take from some Americans and give to others is actually very offensive, even for a liberal waxing poetic about a fallen hero.
Kennedy was all about melting the icy mountains of indifference. And he set about doing it both with fiery rhetoric and hard-fought legislation.
Well, if the goal was to end indifference, he accomplished it, but fiery rhetoric is actually a tame characterization. This is the man who reacted thusly to the nomination of Robert Bork to the United States Supreme Court and made the man’s last name a verb:
“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, children could not be taught about evolution.”
A slander which succeeded in its intent, and another crime that the good senator was never made to answer for.
Ted Kennedy has been a force behind many of the legislative milestones of the last half century, from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (introduced by his brother, JFK, before he was killed) to the Serve America Act of 2009 that bears his name, and which increases the number of people able to take part in national service programs.
And the national service programs, like the national welfare programs, are predicated on the unspoken assumption that government is the answer to every need and every problem.
And, of course, he has been at the forefront of health care legislation, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers more than seven million children from low-income families.
And, like any career politician, he couldn’t rest until government’s tentacles touched every aspect of the lives of Americans, bringing with them the joys of yet more taxes, bureaucracies to feed on them, and unfunded mandates, which were useful to make states willing partners in this gross intrusion in our lives, as they could be bribed with funds from other programs to make up for the shortfalls created by such mandates.
Kennedy has been fighting to guarantee every American access to affordable, quality health care for forty years. Writing about that battle this summer, he called it the “cause of my life.” “It has never been merely a question of policy,” he said, “it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society.”
What is the justification in declaring “just” the decades-long practice of creating entitlement programs that will only grow over time, exhibiting a voracious appetite and slowly killing the American character as their rolls swell?
It remains to be seen whether the praise being lavished on Kennedy from both sides of the aisle will, as some hope, make the passage of real health care reform more likely or if it will merely lead to bestowing on him the dubious honor of having a gutted-in-the-name-of-bipartisanship bill named after him.
Demonstrating that there is no emotional ploy to cynical for Democrats to employ when there is an obscene expansion of federal power and tax revenues at stake. Constitution Be Damned! Do It For Teddy!!!
“The dream shall never die,” Kennedy famously said in 1980. But the ranks of the poor have grown to over 38 million. And downward mobility — the antithesis of the American Dream — has become reality for hundreds of thousands of middle class families. We need to make sure that the focus on them, revived via the retrospectives on Ted Kennedy’s work and words, doesn’t fade away as soon as the tributes are over.
Unfortunately, the policy of taking from the rich to give to the “poor” never quite works out right. You see, there never are enough of the rich to begin with, so the middle class ends up getting the reach-around to make up for the short fall, and then when the rich get tired of being compelled to “give generously” by the government, then they leave, causing even more of the burden to fall to…you guessed it. The middle class. I didn’t really want to take a leak on the guy’s grave. He had baggage in life that his behavior indicated he never got rid of, which might imply that his death didn’t end such troubles. But if the liberals are going to enshrine him as a secular saint, and use the memory they want to keep of him in order to usurp yet more authority that they are not entitled to, then they should be prepared to go toe-to-toe with those of us who see no reason to “let government help us even MORE” when their help has accomplished so little already with the power and money they were given to do it. For them, MORE is never enough; for us, it is well past time to say NO.
RIP, Teddy. You really were a poor factual choice for this generation’s bloody shirt.