On the eve of passing a national health-care reform bill, I’ve been thinking about Senator Edward Kennedy. He would no doubt have helped make the argument that when you get this close, there are some things more important than reelection. Speaker Pelosi, who often cites Senator Kennedy’s call for comprehensive health care, made that case recently on ABC’s This Week when she said “Why are we here? We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress. We’re here to do the job for the American people.”
Back in the good old days after the Senate passed its bill and before the Democrats lost their filibuster-resistant majority, negotiators had planned to name the legislation for Ted Kennedy and Michigan Congressman John D. Dingell, Jr., the senior House Democrat who had been advocating universal coverage since he arrived in 1955. That won’t happen; there are just too many other matters to worry about now.
Senator Kennedy’s son, Patrick Kennedy, when asked what his Dad would say: “This was never for him,” he said. “The greatest honor for him would be getting more people covered, any which way or how.”