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According to Fox News, the thing that made Ted Kennedy special was that he was always willing to make deals with Republicans, and that he'd sell those deals to his fellow progressives.

Kennedy, they say, was always in pursuit of a half-a-loaf. And the best example? His support for President Bush's medicare prescription drug benefit.

But there's a problem with Fox's claim: it's not true. Although Kennedy did reach a deal with Bush on prescription drugs, Bush screwed Kennedy and reneged on the deal at the last second, leaving Kennedy fuming.

Far from supporting Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan, Kennedy was one of its most outspoken critics. And it's all on video tape.

:::

In mid-2003, before the Bush Administration stabbed him in the back, Kennedy did support reaching a deal on prescription drug coverage, making the case for compromise by hearkening back to an opportunity to achieve universal health care coverage during Nixon's presidency.

Health care has been a Kennedy passion for nearly four decades, and he has seen opportunities come and go. He recalls that when President Richard Nixon offered a universal health care plan in the early 1970s, Democrats opposed it, figuring they could get a better bill later. It was a mistake, he says. "In retrospect, I'd grab that," he said of the Nixon plan. Democrats, he argues, should pass a compromise Medicare bill now and then push to fill the plan's gaps. "If Democrats have any oomph," he says, "they're going to be fighting to strengthen this program."

(Source: E.J. Dionne, Ted and Hillary's Health Care Split, in Washington Post, June 24, 2003, via Nexis)

Within months of Kennedy's words in support of compromise, the Bush administration had screwed him over, reneging on their deal with him. Although he started out in favor of compromise, he ended up as the leader of the opposition to the deal. 44 Senators, most of them Democrats, voted against the legislation. Kennedy even tried -- in vain -- to stop the bill from coming to a vote by opposing the cloture motion.

In late 2004, a year and a half after trying to reach a deal with Bush, Kennedy softened his tone on the Nixon deal, saying "I'll have to go back and look at whether we should have jumped on that. Did we make a mistake waiting?"

So in 2003, while selling a deal on prescription drugs that went south, Kennedy did say "in retrospect, I'd grab that." In 2004, after Bush betrayed him on the deal, Kennedy was not quite as certain.

According to commentators like Steven Pearlstein, this episode shows that Kennedy's "greatest regret" was not getting a deal done with Richard Nixon. According to Pearlstein, the lesson to be learned here is that Democrats must abandon key legislative goals to win Republican support.

But that's the wrong lesson. If there's a lesson here, it's that you can count on Republicans to lie. They'll lie going in, and they'll lie going out. You cannot trust them worth a damn, and anyone who does is a shill -- or worse, a fool.

(For more on this topic, see "What Teddy would do", published Sunday.)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:59 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  44 senators? (11+ / 0-)

    Forty four senators voted against the Prescription Drug Bill? Why, I thought you needed 75-80 votes to pass legislation.

  •  Yah and... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat208, Ken in MN, Puddytat

    ..it's Fox.  They lie.  It's like having a story that "water is wet".

    You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

    by DawnG on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:02:17 PM PDT

  •  For God's sake Harry, MAKE THEM FILIBUSTER (14+ / 0-)

    DAMN- HARRY REID- MAKE THE REPUBLICANS ACTUALLY FILIBUSTER THIS THING.  If they want to stand in the way, make them stand there for weeks talking nonsense, and just dare any Dems to join them.  Its one thing to not vote for cloture, its another to run a filibuster for weeks.  

  •  Republicans practice liepartisanship (13+ / 0-)

    I think Obama knows this, and is giving them enough rope to hang themselves. I certainly hope that is the case.

    The difference this time is that the POTUS is the Democrat, and the Senators are Republicans. We have the whip hand, if we'll just use the whip.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference.

    by blue aardvark on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:03:26 PM PDT

    •  Agreed, but the suspense (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, Mr MadAsHell, blue aardvark

      is killing me.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:16:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama doesn't seem to like (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sapper, polar bear

      to force things through.  That is my biggest problem with his presidency.

      He needs to get out in front, denounce for-profit heathcare (& explain how it is killing us), and speak -- as only he can -- to us common citizens.

      If he stays silent & hopes for the bipartisanship that nobody in the GOP will give him, then he is doomed.

      And so are we.

      But he is magnetic: he has the charisma to get this country behind him.  If only he would use it now, as effectively as he used it during his campaign.

      GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

      by Youffraita on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:22:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some time in Mid September (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita

      I think Obama will flesh out what he supports and what he doesn't support. I think. I say mid-September because the Senate and House will be back to bickering and dickering about the various bills that will one day come to his desk.

      I'm too powerless to worry about this.

      "Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal

      by sapper on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:22:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good job on fleshing this out, Jed! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, rja

    I'm betting it ends up on Keith or Rachel tonight.

    "Those who love the law or sausage should not see either being made."

    by smileycreek on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:05:45 PM PDT

  •  Nixon was by comparison to the current GOP... (6+ / 0-)

    ...a liberal.

    He was also something of an intellectual too.

    the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

    by Salo on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:06:00 PM PDT

    •  I've always pointed this out to people (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, Youffraita, Puddytat

      who make Nixon out to be the example of everything that  is wrong with Republicans.

      Quite the opposite: despite a givenness to GOP style "us vs. them" rhetoric and an embrace of the political trickery Rove was able to better get away with, Nixon was everything today's GOP isn't: smart, capable of reason, and pragmatically supportive of certain progressive ideals (such as Universal Health Care) that teabaggers gasp about today.

      Nixon isn't the worst of the GOP - he's the BEST they've given us since Ike!

      Sarah Palin is attacking the Death Star Panel from her Rebel Snow Machine.

      by Bobs Telecaster on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:14:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. As a republican, he was liberal ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bobs Telecaster

        But as a paranoid, power-hungry, cynical bastard, he was spot on.

        "Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal

        by sapper on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:20:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you look at what Nixon (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sapper

          supported, he is far to the left of the Blue Dog Democrats.

          I am throwing up as I type this...I hated Nixon.

          But in retrospect, he wasn't that bad compared to the GOPers who succeeded him.  It reminds me of a campaign in Louisiana where the bumper stickers read Vote For The Crook.  B/c the guy running against the crook was David Duke.

          GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

          by Youffraita on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:31:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nixon's politics never bothered me.q (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Youffraita

            He signed the Endangered Species Act. He (ultimately) got us out of Vietnam. He went to China. He brought a heating-up Cold War into detente.

            His cynicism and his outright thirst for total power over his opponents did bother me quite a lot.

            If he wasn't such a paranoid MoFo, we'd have erected a statue of him somewhere around Dupont Circle, or his alma mater, Duke University, and his Library in Yorba Linda, CA, would've been a stronghold of a responsible, truly compassionate conservatism.

            But man, he was mean, mean-spirited and evil dark by all accounts.

            "Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal

            by sapper on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:46:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  OMG (0+ / 0-)

        I've always given props to Nixon for (mostly) good foreign policy despite the war.

        But...gag, spit, repeat...I have to agree:

        The obvious crook...the guy nobody would buy a used car from...is the best, intellectually, policy-wise, and in every other way...that the GOP has fielded since 1968.

        How pathetic is that?

        GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

        by Youffraita on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:27:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why do all of FOX talking heads (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filby, Puddytat

    look like undertakers or church deacons who look u over to make sure you won't steal from the collection plate?

  •  The lesson perhaps... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DJ Adequate, lgmcp

    ...is that the GOP will have to do the compromising in 2009-2010 if they want half a loaf.

    the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

    by Salo on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:07:13 PM PDT

  •  Or worse... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, polar bear, Puddytat

    But that's the wrong lesson. If there's a lesson here, it's that you can count on Republicans to lie. They'll lie going in, and they'll lie going out. You cannot trust them worth a damn, and anyone who does is a shill -- or worse, a fool.

    Because what will the cost of these lies be if we get a bill passed without a public option?

    More bankruptcies? More needless deaths and suffering?

    Being a fool or a shill seems tame, almost desireable, in comparison.

    It's borders on criminal to be allowed to so distort the truth so as to make it unrecognizable to the end user, especially when that end user will be the one to ultimately suffer the consequences.

  •  Well its a different situation now (0+ / 0-)
    what Kennedy objected to was not the Senate version of the Medicare Prescription drugs plan, but the conference report - remember that both House and Senate were controlled by the GOP - while the Senate had the more moderate plan, the House had the more right wing plan, and that's what prevailed. So in effect, Kennedy was voting against the conference report where he got screwed by the conference cmte.

    Now, if you make a compromise (in the Senate) it will obviously make it through the conference cmte, since if you are compromising in the Senate, the whole idea would be to get the moderate Dems and some GOP to vote for it - so it's almost sure that the bill that comes out of the conference cmte would have the same compromises intact.

    No Way, No How, No McCain

    by nerdngeek on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:07:36 PM PDT

  •  Aha! The next "stage of grief." (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skid, lgmcp, rja

    The GOP is starting to move from Kubler-Ross's  "denial" and "anger" to "bargaining."

    I've been seeing it in emails and Facebook posts by GOP family members and friends, just starting in the past week. Short version: "Let's just compromise and get things done for the American people!"

    Can we please just skip this part and quickly move them on to "depression" and "acceptance"?

    "If you don't stick to your values when they're tested, they're not values. They're... hobbies." -- Jon Stewart, Jan. 22, 2009

    by pat208 on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:11:24 PM PDT

  •  I just don't see any democrat who will fight (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lisastar, Puddytat

    For what he believes in like Kennedy did. From the white-house to congress, we've been sold down a river.

    •  I don't know about that - the Progressive Caucus, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polar bear

      Weiner, and many others in the House have certainly been making the right noises of late, as have Dodd, Rockefeller and Cantwell in the Senate.  We just need to make sure we keep up the pressure.

  •  I could not POSSIBLY agree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skid, oxfdblue, Puddytat

    more:

    But that's the wrong lesson. If there's a lesson here, it's that you can count on Republicans to lie. They'll lie going in, and they'll lie going out. You cannot trust them worth a damn, and anyone who does is a shill -- or worse, a fool.

    GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

    by Youffraita on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:12:16 PM PDT

  •  GOoPers have no problem misrepresenting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skid

    things said by people who are alive and available to refute them (i.e. President Obama), much less people who are recently deceased.

    People who knew Ted Kennedy the best, such as his nieces & nephews and closest colleagues in the Senate, need to push back against this in a big way and tell America how Kennedy would really be dealing with this issue.  The life and health of millions of Americans are riding on the outcome of this fight.  Right-wingers have the knack of controlling every media narrative; are we really going to let them control this particular narrative.

    Barack Obama in the Oval Office: There's a black man who knows his place.

    by Greasy Grant on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:14:10 PM PDT

  •  Leave it to democrats (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DJ Adequate, Skid, Krush, Timothy J, polar bear

    to let republicans put words in the mouth of the Liberal Lion of the Senate. It's not mainstream media doing this, it's republicans with microphones, and we're letting them. Just standing by and watching Ted Kennedy's comprehensive affordible health care for all become fake co-ops and giveaways to the insurance industry.

    And people around here didn't want to "get political" during the funeral service, in which Ted Kennedy's grandchildren lined up to voice Ted's liberal, uncompromising concerns. In which Ted even got Pope Benedict XVI to bless Ted for his work in affordable, comprehensive healthcare for all.

    But we're too worried about being political during a politician's funeral. Letting it be a time for the family steeped in politics to grieve and celebrate a person known to many as the consummate senatorial politician of his time -- or any time -- in American history.

    We let this happen: When we don't define what it is to be a Liberal, a Liberal with a capital "L", other people will gladly define it for us.

    "Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal

    by sapper on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:14:25 PM PDT

    •  i, for one, was not worried about it and would (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sapper

      have enjoyed it if the family chose to make health care an issue during the memorial.  But i thought it was a choice for the family to make.

      •  I caught hell here for thinking aloud (0+ / 0-)

        that Kennedy's causes would be celebrated. Turns out the family kind of wanted it that way.

        I feel it would have been wonderful to be a Liberal and see other Liberals celebrating Liberalism. I saw a little bit of it. I would like to see more. Forget the term Progressivism. I want to bathe in the word "Liberalism."

        It makes me wonder what's going to be in the memoir. I usually don't buy those things outright, but I may just swipe it and see what he's written.

        "Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal

        by sapper on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 07:56:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Let 'em fetishize Kennedy as a compromiser (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skid

    even if that is largely imaginary.  If they sing the virtues of compromising, eventually they'll have to do a bit of it.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:15:02 PM PDT

  •  Does Fox even mention that Kennedy voted AGAINST (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Krush, trinite, Timothy J, polar bear, Puddytat

    ... the bill?

  •  None of these Kennedy 'quotes' ever seem to be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, samantha in oregon

    discussed in the context in which they were made.

    A meme is a meme, I guess.

  •  GOP Lies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat

    The GOP has been a political party of liars for decades- and they get away with it because few Democrats have taken them to task.

    Having gullible bought and paid for leaders in the Democratic party like Reid, Baucus, Conrad et all does not help either when they continue to cooperate with scum like Grassley and Enzi.

    Where is a FDR, Truman, JFK, or LBJ when you need them? Obama and the current Democrats are timid and are still trying to emulate the republicans.

  •  A fool is not worse than a shill. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dragonfire

    Obama got $42,268,366 from Wall Street, more than any other member of Congress, and $20,064,596 from the Medical-Industrial Complex, also tops.

    by expatjourno on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:23:58 PM PDT

  •  The simple fact is.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trinite

    that Nixon was more liberal than most of the Democrats that followed him when it came to domestic policy.

  •  Well, the chatterers made that old quick (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jerseyite, Jed Lewison

    "Let's pass health care for Teddy Kennedy!" was a nice thought until the right-wingers mangled it and kicked sand in our eyes until we changed the subject.

    What would the majority of voters in 2008 have wanted today if they were still alive today?

  •  ironic that the original drug benefit was removed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timothy J

    under Bush Sr. in 1989.  I guess it wasn't enough of a bonanza to PhRMA (which should probably remove the "R" from that clever acronym, they spend a meager 14% of their revenue on research and development and even that is a misleading number since most of the research centers on getting around the other guy's patent)

  •  Today's GOP has been poisoned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timothy J

    by trashy liars like Murdoch, Palin, and G.W. Bush.

    They find it easy to lie about people who are dead and things that happened in the past, so they tell us now that they want to defend Medicare when they did everything they could to stop it from every happening.  Now they're lying about Ted Kennedy who was buried only last Saturday, and they're trying to turn him into a person he never was.

    How many times did these same people trash the Kennedy family?  It happened to me just last week on this very website when I posted that the Senate misses Ted Kennedy and his strength.  I won't repeat the evil thing that was said nor did I engage them in an argument.  I just gave them a troll rating, something we need to give the entire Republican Party.

    All the kind of good Republicans are gone.  Ted Kennedy's children had it right.  It's very hard to love Republicans, especially today.

  •  Ted Kennedy was the best senator ever! (0+ / 0-)
  •  Not... (0+ / 0-)

    sure why it matters whether declining Nixon's compromise was "a regret" or "the regret" of Ted's life...if the assertion here is that Kennedy was correct to reject the good as an enemy of the perfect (when the alternative would have been a third of a century of national health care, likely upgraded over the years as Democrats controlled Congress for 20 years afterward), then its clear Democrats haven't learned the lesson.

  •  As far as compromises ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... I'm most certainly willing to trade the publc option for reducing the likelihood that families will have to file for bankruptcy because of medical expenses (by increasing the generosity of the minimum benefits package, reducing the percentage of income middle-class families will have to pay for these more generous benefits, and making sure the community rating is no more than 2:1), as I and other liberal sellouts believe that is the bill's central purpose.  I'm not willing to trade preventing more families from filing for bankruptcy because of medical expenses for no middle-class tax increases.  That's just my take.

    jim bow, ASA, MAAA

    by jim bow on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:45:17 PM PDT

    •  We have enough Democrats to pass the bill (0+ / 0-)

      with no compromises.  We just need real Democrats and not the fools who are in there now.  There's no leadership in the Democratic Party, and the Democrats we have now are still living in the past.  

      Someone needs to tell the cowardly Democrats that Reaganomics is dead and that it has been proven to be a failure of immense proportions.

      •  As one of those cowardly Democrats, ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... I'd happily trade more generous subsides and minimum benefit packages -- all which were the original Kennedy/Dodd but not in what passed the HELP Committee -- coupled with higher taxes, for the public option.

        jim bow, ASA, MAAA

        by jim bow on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 02:17:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've been looking for this speech (0+ / 0-)

    It was one of Teddy's finest hours.  He railed at the GOP jerks.   He wanted to fillibuster if he could, but cloture had been involked the day before.

    I remember John Edwards too railed at the lobbyists that day and stood with Teddy, voting against the bill.  As Edwards said at the time, "this is a bad bill."

  •  Got paranoia? (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder who this nebulous 'they' who he (and a lot of righties) is...

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