After a plane crash killed liberal Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife and daughter, and several staff members in 2002, his friends and family held a memorial at the University of Minnesota attended by 15,000 people. The theme was “Stand up, keep fighting” for Wellstone’s beliefs, and the expected Democratic replacement for Wellstone on the November ticket, Walter Mondale, was ardently cheered. Wellstone’s son and other speakers called for victory in that election as a tribute to the fallen Senator.
Outrage from Wellstone’s non-family and non-friends ensued. “His family went and turned his funeral into a goddamned political rally,” cried Cold Fury. Andrew Sullivan echoed a friend who “felt the pure partisanship, the jeering and cheering, the fanaticism almost, just after a family has been killed, was about as unseemly a spectacle as anything one could imagine.”
The Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan topped them all, actually offering a Wellstone memo from the great beyond. “When the rally was over, I grieved,” she had him say. She also had Wellstone castigate his family for “turning everything in your life into politics… There are people with the same sickness on the other side too. But I’m telling you, this polar thinking thing has gotten worse on our side the past few years. It’s becoming the Democratic disease.”
Notwithstanding the absurdity of this pretended solicitude for one of their mortal enemies, the rhubarb was thought to have helped elect Republican Norm Coleman to Wellstone’s seat.
Last week Ted Kennedy, a long-time advocate of health care reform, died of brain cancer, and rightbloggers hauled out the Wellstone memorial template in hopes of again defeating a dead Senator’s cause by using the dead Senator himself.
“Ted Kennedy: Another Wellstone,” said BitsBlog. “Will Kennedy’s Death Bring About a Wellstone Spectacle for Health Care?” asked Wizbang. “Will they be dumb enough to ‘Wellstone’ Ted Kennedy’s memorial?” said Noteworthy. “It’s Already Started,” claimed Pro Ecclesia, “The Party of Wellstone Uses Kennedy’s Death for Political Opportunism.”
Jammie Wearing Fool took what he may imagine is the high road: “While we have no doubt the Democrats will do all they can to exploit [Kennedy’s] death and will probably have a Wellstone memorial on steroids, we’ll stay above that.”
“This Saturday, President Obama will give the eulogy at Ted Kennedy’s funeral,” said Yid With Lid. “It is certain that within the flowery prose, the POTUS will urge the Congress to complete Kennedy’s work, and go out and kill grandma for
the gipper Teddy.”
“Is Ted Kennedy really spending the afterlife wishing we would all accept Obamacare?” asked NewsReal Sunday’s Paul Cooper. “The Bible offers insight to this question.” He then described the torments of Hell.
Legal Insurrection found some writers calling for the pending health care bill to be named after Kennedy, which he said demonstrated that “Democrats are desperate to do anything to overcome public opposition on the merits.”
Just in case there was anything to this notion that Kennedy’s name might help the bill, some rightbloggers worked to blacken the late Senator’s reputation. Some circulated a report that he made jokes about Chappaquiddick; Blackfive jumped on a Kennedy aide’s overstated report that he had “gone to the funeral of every soldier who’s come home from Iraq in a casket” (“Email me if you have seen or not seen Senator Kennedy at a military funeral anywhere“); others revived a story that Kennedy had conspired with the Soviet Union to undermine the Reagan Administration (strongly disputed here); and some attacked surviving Kennedys (“Just like Uncle Ted, Joe Kennedy is a communist enabler too“). But in the main, the talking point was that Democrats would use the death of the murdering, treasonous Kennedy to promote health care reform.
The funeral service came and went with little to which serious objections could be made. President Obama eulogized; various Kennedys spoke; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick read some correspondence between Kennedy and the Vatican (of which Gateway Pundit complained, “Of course, the AP did not release any parts of the Vatican letter that discussed life issues or was critical of Teddy Kennedy”).
Dr. Edward Peters gave his best shot. When Reverend Mark Hession said in his homily “Kennedy tied his faith to justice in the land,” Dr. Peters observed, “good grief, justice? for millions of unborn babies in the land? was that the fruit of Teddy’s faith?” Peters was struck by “how oblivious, I say, all the participants were to Ted Kennedy’s disgraceful and chronic failings to defend the natural right to life.” Peters must not go to many funerals, and those he does attend must be lively affairs.
This left some scraps offered by two young Kennedys in their intercessions at the service: “For what my Grandpa called the cause of his life, as he said so often, ‘In every part of this land, that every American will have decent quality healthcare as a fundamental right, and not a privilege,'” and “For my Grandfather’s brave promise last summer that ‘The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.'”
“Dems Exploit Child at Kennedy Funeral to Pray for Obamacare,” cried Stop the ACLU, and offered their own, more respectful intercession, “Please throw all the Democrat bums out of office in the mid-terms. Lord hear our prayer!”
“I hold no bad feelings towards this little boy,” graciously acknowledged Sister Toldjah, “but I’m angry he was used by his family to promote healthcare reform at a funeral during the ‘prayers of the faithful’ segment. It’s the Absolute Moral Authority Card and the kiddie human shield tactic all rolled into one.” “Words fail,” said Patterico’s Pontifications. ‘Words cannot begin to express my disgust,” said Protein Wisdom. “The Kennedy family could not pass up using the children for political gain,” said Virginia Virtucon. “[The Kennedys] have no morals and common decency as they will even use a church service to advance their cause. Shame on the Kennedy’s for not even respecting a funeral Mass.”
“Like Chappaquiddick, we aren’t supposed to notice,” raged RedState’s Lori Ziganto. “It doesn’t fit the narrative. Or if we do notice, we are supposed to think it is all worth it; that the ends justify the means.” She concluded that “the entire funeral was used as an Obamacare rally” — rather a stretch, but as the Catholics say, act as if ye had faith, and faith will be given to you.
It’s early yet to tell if the children’s prayers will call a Wellstone-style firestorm of indignation upon the Kennedys, the Democrats, health care reform, Obama etc. Early returns suggest not. Legal Insurrection, previously concerned about the Kennedy effect, was content to notice “Kennedy TV Coverage A Ratings Flop” though “CNN and MSNBC have been covering the Ted Kennedy death virtually non-stop… Maybe it’s a sign that the Kennedy name does not mean much outside of the circles who supported Kennedy-care before it was called Kennedy-care.”
American Power saved its outrage for a New York rally in favor of health care reform. “Almost no one attending the rally has made their own signs,” they said. “That’s the Dems for you: Shameless exploitation and staged rallies to generate media support.”
But as we said, it’s early yet, and there’ll be plenty of mailings, blog posts, and town brawls with which rightbloggers may inveigh us to please think of the children, and defeat Obamacare out of respect for the injured memory of Ted Kennedy.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 31, 2009