Well it was a beautifully done funeral for Ted Kennedy. A time for remembrances, some laughs and some tears. I shed a tear when Teddy Junior spoke of his struggle to get up the driveway in the winter with his artificial leg and his father's encouragement. Of course, I'm pretty emotional about father-son relationships, as they resonate with so much with me.
Unlike some critics, I thought President Obama's eulogy was just right. Some commentators and columnists felt he should have turned it into a Health Care Reform call to arms. Give me a break! Bad taste, and totally counter to the bipartisan theme that had been an integral undercurrent of the ceremonies.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has set Jan. 19th at the date of the special election to fill Sen. Kennedy's seat, with the primaries on Dec. 8th. The Legislature will no doubt accede to the late Senator's request for an interim appointment. [Interestingly, back in 2004 the Democrat-controlled Legislature took the power away from the Governor's office to deny Gov. Mitt Romney the opportunity to fill it, if John Kerry had won the Presidency.] What goes around comes around, right?
If Joe Kennedy announces, he'll be tough to beat. However, he didn't prove to be a particularly effective Congressman, but he may have matured and will no doubt have a different perspective on the opportunity that the Senate would present him to continue his uncle's legacy. Although, based on what I saw, Teddy Jr. would be a better candidate. I'm just sayin'.....
Canadian Election Countdown
I hate it when I'm right (and so un-used to it..) but as I predicted in my June blog, Canada is heading for a federal election that nobody (except certain politicians) really want. Michael Ignatieff set the groundwork in June by drawing another line in the sand for a no-confidence motion at the end of September. Politically, he can't draw another line later on without looking Stephane Dion-ish. His credibility would suffer irreparable harm.
Look for Prime Minister Harper to introduce a Ways and Means motion that may well be defeated once the House reconvenes in mid-September. In that way he will try to control the election call.
But is this a good idea for the Liberals?
In my view, no it isn't. The Harper government wants the campaign to be about economic issues - not social issues or the environment. When people are worried about their jobs, they tend to look to a leader who appears strong and fairly tough. With the Liberals call for billions more on Employment Insurance and more program spending, it will be hard to make the case credibly that he would manage the deficit better. Besides the political zeitgeist in Canada and the United States has shifted in the past few months from "who can spend more, fast enough, to kick-start the economy?" to "who has the plan to get us out of this debt we're piling up?"
That may explain why Mr. Ignatieff has pulled the plug on one of his own demands, to work on reforming the Employment Insurance program. The less association with that, the better. He needs to find a platform and a message that resonates with the voter. It's definitely possible, but he has a very short time for Canadians to get to know him while at the same time setting out his platform.
Until next time....