- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

When David Gergen asked Massachusetts Republican and Senate candidate Scott Brown if he was willing to be the person to sit in the late Edward M. Kennedy’s seat in the Senate and block the Senate health care bill for the next 15 years, it must have taken a herculean effort for Mr. Gergen to suppress a wince at the irony in his query.

Dismissing that it is a colossally unfair and loaded question (which Mr. Brown answered well), Kennedy is, in fact, the reason Mr. Brown has an opportunity to sit in “Teddy Kennedy’s seat” at all.

In 2004, it was Kennedy who engineered a change to Massachusetts election law that called for a special election to fill Senate vacancies. He did this to ensure that then-Gov. Mitt Romney would be unable to appoint a Republican senator in the event the state’s other senator, John Kerry, was elected president. Of course, this was moot, as Mr. Kerry lost his presidential bid, but the law remains on the books. Now it appears that the special election is causing some discomfort for those who would like to see Kennedy’s dream of health care entitlements for all become reality.

Being from Illinois, I believe it is never a bad idea to have an election to replace a gubernatorial nomination (see Rod Blagojevich), and in this case, it may finally inject the electorate’s view of so-called health care reform into the legislative process. Mr. Brown has an outside chance of becoming the next senator from Massachusetts. If he wins, as Mr. Gergen seems to suggest he should and dares not be a posthumous proxy for Kennedy, a more delicious irony will arise. Kennedy’s goal of expanding health care has a better chance of success if the Senate is forced to scrap this disastrous bill and start over, this time with the Republicans at the table.

JOHN L. ROE

Chicago

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