I fear Senator Robert Byrd's wishes won't be fulfilled, not if they're relying on Republicans to stop playing politics with this reform:
"In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American."
Here's Kit Bond, on MSNBC today: "I believe that Ted Kennedy, if he were there, would signal time-out and let's go back and work together."
We saw this effort building in the last few weeks: if only Ted Kennedy were still in the debate, then we'd have a Democrat we could work with. Here's John McCain, from Sunday's "This Week":
Without him, McCain added, the health care debate had stagnated far more than had he been in the chamber.
"He had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations," McCain said. "So it's huge that he's absent, not only because of my personal affection for him, but because I think the health care reform might be in a very different place today."
They're going to use this argument to further delay the bill, to chunk it up, to try to pass "incremental" reform, to gut it of anything meaningful. If there's any doubt that this is what the Republicans are about, check out Sen. Mike Enzi, Baucus debacle member and "bipartisan negotiator," speaking at a town meeting in Wyoming:
"If I hadn't been involved in this process as long as I have and to the depth as I have, you would already have national health care," he said.
"Someone has to be at the table asking questions," Enzi said, showing a flash of passion.
He later quoted a favorite saying: "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu."
"It's not where I get them to compromise, it's what I get them to leave out," Enzi said.
This was before Sen. Kennedy's passing, but it's still the Republican playbook. Delay it, gut it. Now they'll try to use the death of Sen. Kennedy to realize the goal. The bipartisan Senate that Kennedy achieved so many of goals in, the bipartisan Senate that Robert Byrd used to know is long dead. Republicans have no interest in governing, nor do they have the ability to do so. They can only throw bombs and obstruct.
Kennedy's legacy is too important to be sullied by their politicization of his death and by their obstruction. Democrats, and any Republican in the Senate who might still have a shred of decency, owe it to his legacy, not to mention the American people, to see his goal of universal healthcare realized.