Assigned Reading: Mass. Mulls How to Choose Kennedy Successor
(FROM: Associated Press/MSNBC)
While the Associated Press certainly included many relevant facts in its report today about the Senate vacancy left by Ted Kennedy upon his death, discussing both the possible replacements for the senator and the possibility that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will be called upon to make an appointment should Kennedy’s request that the law be changed be granted, the AP disregarded the fact that Kennedy himself had petitioned the state legislature to change the law in 2004.
Back then, John Kerry looked ready to prevail over George W. Bush for the presidency, and with Republican Mitt Romney in the Massachusetts State House, Kennedy didn’t want the succession rule in place at the time–gubernatorial appointment of replacements–to control. So, he petitioned the state legislature to change the procedure from gubernatorial appointment to a special election after five months.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, it was only less than a week ago that the ailing Kennedy asked the state legislature to change the law he had asked to be changed years before under different political circumstances. And he did it for purely political reasons — one, Deval Patrick is a liberal Democrat and would appoint a liberal Democrat (if not himself) to replace Kennedy; and two, unless they use reconciliation to pass health care reform, the Democrats could use the filibuster-proof majority that a second Democrat senator from Massachusetts brings them.
Is this a terrible thing? Not really. It’s maddeningly hypocritical to be sure, but Kennedy was a politician and Democrat at that. Regardless, however, the right information as to how, when and why the law was changed in Massachusetts should be included in any and all coverage of the future of Kennedy’s Senate seat.