Why Teddy Matters

Marc Ambinder lays out his view of why he thinks Ted Kennedy’s endorsement will matter. I won’t go meta. I’ll say it should matter. Note that I’m not a Camelot nostalgic. Indeed, I’ve written before on the blog of my distaste for JFK hagiography, and I laughed out loud at this.

That said, Ted Kennedy is just a great liberal leader. He’s the guy you wish every senator with a safe seat would be. A guy who doesn’t just vote the right way, but who’s willing to give voice to unseasonable opinions. After Iraq’s elections in 2005, the right-wing was crowing. Many Democrats were ducking and covering. Hillary Clinton was repeating George W. Bush’s lines. Ted Kennedy was delivering this speech:

We must learn from our mistakes. We must recognize what a large and growing number of Iraqis now believe. The war in Iraq has become a war against the American occupation. We have reached the point that a prolonged American military presence in Iraq is no longer productive for either Iraq or the United States. The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution. We need a serious course correction, and we need it now. We must make it for the American soldiers who are paying with their lives.We must make it for the American people who cannot afford to spend our resources and national prestige protracting the war in the wrong way. We must make it for the sake of the Iraqi people who yearn for a country that is not a permanent battlefield and for a future free from permanent occupation. The elections in Iraq this weekend provide an opportunity for a fresh and honest approach.

The man’s not above criticism by any means. But I do think the theory that Hillary Clinton is the real candidate of commitment to progressive politics is put seriously to the test by Kennedy’s judgment. His own commitment is, I think, above reproach. And he’s been in a position to see Bill and Hillary Clinton and their gaggle of hangers-on for twenty years now all from a veteran perspective. Maybe he’s just been blinded by the right-wing smear machine a something?