Thursday, August 27, 2009

Something I didn't know about Teddy Kennedy

I haven't commented previously on Senator Kennedy's passing, mostly because I had disagreed with so much of what he stood for and didn't want to take the opportunity of the man's passing to bash his record. There is a time for that, but not this week. On the other hand, I don't see why we should pass a mammoth, poorly thought out program that he supported simply because the man died. Every one of us would have to live with the results of these health care plans for decades. It's too important to pass out of sentiment.

I feel for his many friends and family. Despite being born into a privileged life, he also endured more family tragedies than most of us can imagine enduring seeing three brothers and a sister die well before their time.

Michael Barone has a nice reflection
on the Senator's political career.

Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine takes a look at Senator Kennedy's legislative career. While the signature legislation that is getting all the talk in the obituaries reflect Kennedy's worldview that the federal government was the proper instrument to improve every aspect of our lives through top-down management plans, here is one aspect of that record I hadn't known before.
There is, buried deep within Kennedy's legislative legacy, a different set of policies worth exhuming and examining, precisely because they were truly a break with the normal way of doing business in Washington. During the 1970s, Kennedy was instrumental in deregulating the interstate trucking industry and airline ticket prices, two innovations that have vastly improved the quality of life in America even as—or more precisely, because—they pushed power out of D.C. and into the pocketbooks of everyday Americans. We are incalculably richer and better off because something like actual prices replaced regulatory fiat in trucking and flying. Because they do not fit the Ted Kennedy narrative preferred by his admirers and detractors alike, these accomplishments rarely get mentioned in stories about the late senator. But they are exactly the sort of legislation that we should be celebrating in his honor, and using as a model in today's debates about health care, education, and virtually every aspect of government action.
That's the senator I'd prefer to commemorate, but I know that that is not the one we'll be hearing about for the next few days.

UPDATE: Susan Estrich, who worked for the Senator does a good job of expressing what was admirable about Teddy Kennedy and should be a lesson to anyone seeking to make a mark in politics. He persevered. Through the tragedies, the jokes, the ups and downs of political fortunes, he kept at it. There's a lesson for everyone there.