August 27th, 2009
01:18 PM ET
5 years ago

Can anyone match Kennedy's clout?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Filling Edward "Ted" Kennedy's shoes in the Senate will be nearly impossible as Congress tackles health care reform legislation - an issue close to Kennedy's heart.

Kennedy, who passed away Tuesday, was a fixture in the Senate for nearly 50 years. Deemed the "Lion of the Senate," his larger-than-life presence not only resonated in the halls of Congress and in Massachusetts, but around the world.

That clout and popularity extended across party lines during negotiations on major issues. A self-described liberal, he was known for having a knack for bridging the divide between left and right.

"He was a rare politician who knew when to cut a deal. He knew when to compromise. He knew how to work with George Bush," said Gloria Borger, CNN senior political analyst.

"He understood the power of personal relationships," she said.

But deals are few in the 111th Congress, which has seen strict party-line votes this year on major domestic legislation, including the economic stimulus plan and the 2010 budget.

With Kennedy's death, a power vacuum has developed in the Senate.

"I think one of the things that the Senate now lacks is just that power ... somebody that people would coalesce around," said Candy Crowley, CNN senior political correspondent. "I just don't see anyone there right now that can step up to that plate."

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Filed under: Popular Posts • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Mississippi Mike

    He was the "Lion of the Left," not of the entire Senate. Most of America despised the drunk booze hound whose entire career was built on the fact that he is related to JFK. He had a lot of powerful allies but the idea of senators like him are what fuel so many campaigns to "change the way Washington does business" or elect someone who hasn't been corrupted by the DC establishment. He was the embodiment of the corrupt DC establishment.

    August 27, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. jrzshor

    hopefully NOT.

    a well functioning democracy does not need and can never afford to have"employees" staying on until they die.

    August 27, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. Tom in Delaware

    The whole reason he endorsed Obama for President was so he could regain the coveted title of "Most Liberal Senator".

    August 27, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  4. Jane/Seattle

    Anyone who chooses to make the choice to lead can achieve even more. All that is required is impeccable Integrity. This we have too little of in this world. I am not a big fan of idealizing and idolizing mere men. Praise them and let it go. They may live in memories, but we have too much to do to always be obsessed with personalities. Folks in this world are suffering. Let us fix that and honor Mr. Kennedy by achieving it for him. Peace

    August 27, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    A power vacuum in the Senate is a wonderful thing–the less power being exerted in the Senate is just that much more power available to the people.

    August 27, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Randolph Carter

    In a word: no. Nobody can replace Teddy. Our legislators are, with few exceptions, bought and paid for by corporate interests. None of them can be counted on to stand up for poor folks. The final healthcare reform bill will be an expensive giveaway to insurance and pharmaceutical companies and will contain no meaningful reform. It'll be funny to watch the town hallers and birthers and other misinformed citizens and corporate tools screaming bloody murder in 10 years when they can no longer afford healthcare and medicare is broke. Personally, I've got adequate insurance and after 18 years of working like crazy, my wife and I are finally somewhat financially secure. I am willing to pay more taxes to help the less fortunate get healthcare. Have a nice day!

    August 27, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. addon

    In a word "Nope".......Most of our Senators are affluent americans. Few americans who are extremely wealthy look to support groups of the poor, uneducated and downtrodden americans. Without money, power and prestige, there is typically no voice. Until someone comes along (like our current President) it will be business as usual and the lobbyists with the biggest purse strings will get the best representation.

    Just look at the healthcare debate. How often do we hear from people who can't afford to see a doctor? Well...you see my point.

    For the People, by the People ! What a nice phrase

    August 27, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. A.B.

    Despite the fact that no one can fill the shoes of Senator Edward M. Kennedy in terms of welding political clout in Washington, The healthcare legislation will become law on President Obama's watch. The spirit of Ted Kennedy lives on and will help to influence Congressional and public support of this important legislative initiative.

    August 27, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. Bridgette

    No. I think they need term limits. That's why you can't get health care reform in there. You have all those old men in their fighting over stuff that happened 30 yars ago. It's time for term limits and get some fresh meat in there. If the highest office in the land have term limits then they all should.

    August 27, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. gary

    harry reid can at least till 2010 when nevada voters boot him from the senate

    August 27, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Dave

    Only Senator who has a chance is Senator McCain as evidenced by his work on Immigration reform and other so called Democratic issues, and MANY of them with Senator Kennedy as they co-sponsered much legislation. That's about it and what a sad situation our country is in when you look at it this way.

    August 27, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. I hope so

    I hope so one digs in and gets the work done, our country needs it, and if the GOP has anything to say about it, all we spend on is giving our friends money and wars

    I'm glad we have our current pres

    August 27, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. a progressive liberal and proud of it

    They do have "term limits" folks. It's called elections! If you don't like what your representatives are doing, vote them out!

    August 27, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    ACORN and the unions and George Soros already have more clout in the democratic party and are ruining this country in a way Teddy would have loved.

    August 27, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. Patrick - Indianapolis

    Remember folks, demonizing your opposition does nothing to promote your agenda. It only serves to make you look foolish. The only people who are attracted to negative campaigning are the ignorant and uneducated. Sadly enough, there are so many people that fit into this category. What has this nation come to?

    August 27, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. MonRob

    The little bit I felt for The Kennedy's died when they endorsed Obama.

    Anyone with their weight, should have waited for the primaries to end before endorsing either one. I am glad Caroline made such a mess trying to get Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. And before you all attack, I voted for Obama, but the endorsement could have waited, as Vice President Gore did. That's class!

    August 27, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  17. shucks

    And you wonder why at a time of mourning for many who admired Senator Kennedy and the work he has done for the poor and less fortunate, that the republicans would give it a break for just one day. But they can't. They are so driven by hate and anger that they cannot see any good in anyone who has served the nation with the intentions of the poor and underserved. Their anger is going to continue to be their downfall. Anger breeds contempt. In this case contempt for the whole republican party. There is not one real christian in the whole republican party. That is unless you apply their own definition of christian which is do as I do, act as I act, believe as I believe, hate who I hate, and decieve at every opportunity.

    August 27, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. nathan smith ga

    it is sad that some folks cannot be respectful when someone dies. i will miss the lion may God bless the Kennedy family.

    August 27, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. Cee

    Only if ONE has MONEY and wants to ! A silver spoon will fill you up every time. Funny how that works!

    It's either that or you take advantage of the favors you do in politics.
    That's why there is such GREED in the Dirty Political Business. Lotta "back" washing going on!

    August 27, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |