Posted on August 26, 2009

AP Obama Kennedy

Perhaps more so in death than in life, the impact that the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D – MA) will exert on the  upcoming Senate debate over health care “insurance” reform will be powerful. Democrats will be inspired by the memory of a man who has fought for universal health care for decades.

To ensure that there would be no gap in the ability of Massachusetts to bring influence to bear on the negotiations over the House and Senate bills,  Kennedy had appealed to the Governor of Massachusetts to lay aside state law and  to  temporarily fill Kennedy’s Senate seat should it  become vacant.  Under a 2004 Massachusetts law, a special election must be held 145 to 160 days after a Senate seat becomes vacant. The winner of the election would serve the remainder of a senator’s unexpired term.  Republicans will now have a time period with no one in the seat to press for their alterations to the health care legislation.

Regardless of these developments, when Congress reconvenes in September, the first thing that Republicans will have to determine is who will be their lead spokesperson during the tough days of health care debate.  In recent days, Senator McCain has resurfaced as an effective countermeasure to Senate Democrats and their loud and clear message on health care  reform.  While the former Presidential candidate is a revered and trusted orator, his participation might evoke the image of Republicans as the failed party in the last election. Perhaps one of the rising stars would be both more appropriate and more effective.

In a changed landscape for the health care debate, Republicans will have the more difficult task of forging ahead with conviction, to be mindful of honoring Senator Kennedy’s memory, and to face down the Democrats with their new found vigor and resolve – possibly with blue dog Democrats back in the fold.

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Posted in: OPINION