Last of the clan 肯尼迪家族的最后一人 Aug 26th 2009 From Economist.com
Edward Kennedy, a liberal champion, has died. Who could fill the gap he has left?
BRAIN cancer, diagnosed last May, killed Edward Kennedy on Tuesday August 25th. America's liberal lion, famous in later years for his girth, his flushed face and his mane of white hair, had been ill and largely out of Senate action for months. But when he did appear, he was unafraid of linking what he called the biggest political issue of his life to his own circumstances. “Over the last year, I’ve seen our health-care system up close. I've benefited from the best of medicine, but I've also witnessed the frustration and outrage of patients and doctors alike as they face the challenges of a system that shortchanges millions of Americans,” he wrote in the Boston Globe. He was as keen as ever to join the fight for reform, but had to leave it to the man he so helpfully endorsed when he was just a hopeful senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.
Mr Kennedy's status stemmed mostly from being part of the Kennedy clan: the apparently charmed brothers, Robert, Edward and John. His brand of liberal politics was much closer to Robert's keen idealism (cruelly curtailed in 1968 as he campaigned for the Democratic nomination) than to JFK's more pragmatic style. Edward was sworn in as a senator in 1962 and, by comparison with his brothers, seemed colourless. But after Bobby's assassination, now the lone Kennedy remaining, his standing was such that the polls suggested the Democratic Party would win the election against Richard Nixon if he was included on the ticket. That was before an accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969, the death of the passenger in his car, Mary Jo Kopechne, and his own failure to explain what had happened, drew attention to his inability to cope in a crisis.
肯尼迪先生的地位大部分源于其显赫的家族：风流倜傥的三兄弟——罗伯特，爱德华，与约翰·肯尼迪。相较于约翰·肯尼迪务实的风格，爱德华代表的自由党派主义，与其兄罗伯特的激进的理想主义更为契合（1968年，罗伯特在民主党总统竞选提名途中被残忍刺杀）。爱德华1962年宣布就职参议员，相比光彩不及两位兄长。但罗伯特死后，作为肯尼迪家族的最后一个儿子，民意调查显示如果爱德华提名竞选，他很有可能战胜尼克松赢得大选。此后发生于1969年的Chappaquiddick岛事件——一位名叫Mary Jo Kopechne的女士死在爱德华的私人专车上，而他又无法对此作出解释，暴露了其无法应对突发事件的弱点。
That incident took some recovering from, both personally and politically. But Mr Kennedy became a vocal opponent of the war in Vietnam, and a champion of the poor. (He described his vote against authorising the Iraq war as “the best vote I have ever cast” in the Senate.) He was also arguably the last in a long line of “fighting liberal” urban politicians from the mid-20th century such as Estes Kefauver, Adlai Stevenson, Edmund Muskie, George McGovern and Paul Wellstone: men who refused to compromise or triangulate in the Clinton style, and who made no apology for their beliefs.
这次事件对爱德华，无论从政界或个人名誉上，都有着很大影响。但很快他加入到声援反对越战，以及帮助穷人的队伍中（他将自己在伊拉克战争问题上投下的反对一票称为自己参议生涯中最明智的一票）。他也是具有争议的上个世纪中期拒绝妥协与克林顿执政风格，并对自己的政治理念不做任何辩解的城市“自由主义斗士”政治家队伍中的一员——其他成员包括Estes Kefauver, Adlai Stevenson, Edmund Muskie, George McGovern和Paul Wellstone。
Mr Kennedy's own run for the White House came in 1980. The liberal fighter stormed all the way to the floor of the Democratic convention that year to try to wrest the nomination from Jimmy Carter, a sitting president. Some still think the damage done then proved fatal to Mr Carter in the general election in November, which was won by Ronald Reagan. But Mr Kennedy did great damage to his own campaign when he gave a television interview after the Iranian revolution in which he tore into the deposed Shah of Iran for stealing “umpteen billion dollars”. The revolutionaries hailed him as their champion. A New York tabloid ran the headline “Teddy is the Toast of Tehran”. Uncompromising liberalism of that sort may never be seen again in American politics. In his later career, though, Mr Kennedy forged bipartisan coalitions to push for legislation he supported. He and George Bush became almost friendly during the president's push for education and immigration reform.
A special election in Massachusetts will find a replacement for Mr Kennedy. It seems likely to be won by a Democrat. The state is historically and reliably Democratic, and Mr Kennedy’s many adoring voters can hardly be expected to vote for a Republican in the midst of the health-care and other debates. The seat matters. Until it is filled, the Democrats will lack the crucial 60 senators needed to break a filibuster. As for who will run, that is less certain.
Mr Kennedy wanted his wife, Vicky, to succeed him. But the Kennedy family seems to be something of a spent force. Teddy was the last of the greats. His niece, Caroline Kennedy, failed in her quasi-campaign to be appointed to Hillary Clinton’s vacated Senate seat in New York. No other member of that generation has the stature of the idolised brothers.
Outside the clan, a leading candidate would be Barney Frank, also from Massachusets, a less glamorous, slightly more bruising version of Mr Kennedy in the House. (He recently energised sullen Democrats by asking a questioner who compared Mr Obama to Hitler “On what planet do you spend most of your time?”) Mr Frank is also the first openly gay member of Congress. No other figure is a household name. Late in his illness, Mr Kennedy requested a change in the law so that the (Democratic) governor, Deval Patrick, could quickly name his replacement. But even that change would have to wait until the Massachusetts legislature comes back in the second week of September.
In the meantime, not only is Massachusetts short of one senator; the Democratic Party in Congress is without a liberal anchor. The leaders in both houses of Congress, Nancy Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate, are unpopular and widely criticised. But Mr Kennedy, despite his pugnacious liberal reputation, wrote many bills with Republican colleagues, too. No member of the party’s left has that ability to bang out a deal across the aisle. Mr Kennedy, both adored and loathed as a personality, was a prolific legislator. His will be a hard act to follow.