Tag Archives: ted kennedy

John Kerry to State

I know that many progressives are disappointed in President Obama for nominating Senator John Kerry for Secretary of State. Kerry is fine. There is nothing wrong with John Kerry. He is a solid progressive. There were better choices, but probably no one who has done more for Obama. It was Kerry who picked Obama for the 2004 convention floor speech.

One of the great theories that has been floating around Washington is that the GOP decided to attack Susan Rice when she was thought to be the leading candidate for Secretary of State. They attacked Ambassador Rice so that Obama would then nominate John Kerry. They reason that they wanted Kerry was so that Scott Brown could run in the special election for Kerry’s seat. Scott Brown, as you’ll recall, ran for Ted Kennedy’s old seat and won, but he had a little problem winning re-election because of Elizabeth Warren. Look, all of this maybe true. I just don’t think that Scott Brown is the man that he was 24 months ago. I don’t think that progressives will look at him as a decent alternative to a real progressive. I’m thinking Caroline Kennedy is looking better and better.

Can Chris Dodd step to the plate and fix Wall Street before leaving the Senate?

From TP:

One question bouncing around news outlets today is what Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) retirement means for the regulatory reform effort. Does it make him more or less likely to compromise on key parts of the bill, including the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA)?

It’s hard to discern whether Dodd’s retirement will lead him to give in on a host of issues (as one “gleeful” financial services lobbyist told Politico it would) or compel him to put “it all on the line to get what he wants, bipartisanship be damned.”

But one thing is for certain: Dodd’s retirement means that the regulatory reform effort needs to wrap up this year, as Dodd’s likliest successor as chairman is Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), a very bank-friendly Democrat who would almost certainly produce a worse product. And this point hasn’t escaped Republicans, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out:

At the same time, [Dodd’s] decision gives Republicans the incentive to draw out the process until after next year’s elections when a more business-friendly Democrat could ascend to the banking panel’s chairmanship. Next in line on the committee is Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.), generally seen as more receptive to industry concerns.

According to Roll Call, “Senate Democrats said that no palace intrigue is expected to take place with the Banking panel” and that Johnson will take the gavel. So Republicans and the financial industry have ample motivation to gum up the works until Dodd is all the way out.

This same concern arose when it looked like Dodd might take the helm of the Senate HELP committee following the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Back then, Tim Fernholz wrote that “it would be bad news for regulatory reform if Johnson took over the [banking] committee; he’s received nearly a million dollars from the financial industry in the last 20 years.”

Johnson was the only Senate Democrat to vote against a credit card reform bill last year, and the banking industry has focused on him as one of the Democrats most likely to torpedo the CFPA. “No one is pro-industry today but he’s been historically very receptive,” said a top financial services lobbyist of Johnson. “He’s been sensitive to the impact of legislation on the financial service industry given the large number of jobs he represents.”

Even if Dodd gets a regulatory reform bill passed, as the investment research firm Concept Capital pointed out, Johnson’s chairmanship would likely result in other efforts to rein in banks going by the wayside. “His elevation to chairman should put to restworries over interchange and interest rate caps,” the firm wrote.

There is one note of good news amidst all this, however: Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will be running for Dodd’s seat, and he has been a strong advocate for consumer financial protection.

Obama pays tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy

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From WH:

We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers’ rights or civil rights. And yet, as has been noted, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did. While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that’s not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw Ted Kennedy. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and platform and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect — a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.

And that’s how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, yes, but also by seeking compromise and common cause — not through deal-making and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humor. There was the time he courted Orrin Hatch for support of the Children’s Health Insurance Program by having his chief of staff serenade the senator with a song Orrin had written himself; the time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague; the famous story of how he won the support of a Texas committee chairman on an immigration bill. Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manila envelope, and showed only the chairman that it was filled with the Texan’s favorite cigars. When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the chairman. (Laughter.) When they weren’t, he’d pull it back. (Laughter.) Before long, the deal was done. (Laughter.)

It was only a few years ago, on St. Patrick’s Day, when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support of a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for vote. I gave my pledge, but I expressed skepticism that it would pass. But when the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes that it needed, and then some. I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked how had he done it. He just patted me on the back and said, “Luck of the Irish.” (Laughter.)

Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy’s legislative success; he knew that. A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time. Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, “What did Webster do?” (more… )