Missing Ted Kennedy

For those of us who like Barack Obama on some level think single-payer health care would be best but impractical, then hoped for a system with a public option, but who are still enthusiastic about health reform that doesn’t include it, I think we’ve really reached a moment when it would be good to have Ted Kennedy around.

I’m confident that were he still alive, he’d be saying what Sherrod Brown and Jay Rockefeller are saying — namely that when a deal like this is on the table, you say yes, pretend to like Joe Lieberman, get the thing done, do some good for the American people, and move on to other priorities. But he’s not alive. And I can’t prove that’s what he’d say. So we’re left instead with other folks like Brown and Rockefeller or just don’t have the same high profile or credibility. Needed to help sell people on this arrangement.

Once upon a time, Barack Obama himself could have played that role. But as Paul Krugman says I think Obama burned most of the credibility he would have needed through his very gentle handling of the big finance players. So you get what we have here this week.