Archive for the ‘Ted Kennedy’ Category

Sweet Caroline: Kennedy Floated for New York Senate Seat

December 8, 2008

I’ve been intrigued by the possibility that New York Governor David Patterson might name Caroline Kennedy to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Having been a longtime Kennedy-watcher with a background covering New York politics, I am very curious about how somebody with a storied political name but little actual experience in elective office might win over voters and keep the seat.

I decided to check in with an old political hand, Dr. David Luchins, for his perspective. Dr. Luchins, who now teaches at New York’s Touro College, served Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan for two decades as a staffer and senior adviser and later went on to advise Clinton in her senate campaign. Luchins was personally privy to the advice Moynihan gave to Clinton prior to her run for elective office, counsel that served her well during her career in New York politics. From Kennedy’s uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, to Moynihan to Clinton, elite outsiders who have held this seat have won over New York voters by diving into the details of policy and its ramifications for New York. Here are his recommendations, which reflect and grow out of what he heard  Senator Moynihan tell Clinton (with some analysis and commentary from me:)

  • Work your tail off upstate. Hillary Clinton, like Moynihan, devoted considerable political energy in upstate New York. This paid huge dividends for Clinton, making her impervious to political challenge (particularly from Republicans) and sharpening her appeal with blue collar voters who loyally stood behind her during the contentious rust belt presidential primaries against Barack Obama. One reason Tim Russert became famous as a political entity was that Moynihan wanted the best man possible upstate. He selected Russert, a Buffalo-native, to run his upstate office and, ultimately his Washington one.
  • Be humble. New Yorkers expect even celebrity candidates, Robert Kennedy, James Buckley, Moynihan and Clinton to be able to talk to them in simple and down-to-earth terms. Moynihan told Clinton in 1999 that her achievements in Arkansas, Washington D.C. and Illinois didn’t mean anything in New York. He reminded her to listen to New Yorkers, particularly upstate. This contributed to the “listening tour” strategy that worked well for her in New York and in the presidential race.
  • Bring home the bacon. Moynihan pressed Washington to pay for the New York State Thruway. Clinton took up the cause of funding for New Yorkers afflicted by 9/11 syndrome. I see Caroline Kennedy coming to this very naturally; after all, it’s exactly what her uncle, Senator Kennedy has been doing for Massachusetts since 1962.
  • Focus on the finances. Moynihan had an advanced degree in international relations and served as ambassador to the United Nations. Yet when he joined the senate he became an expert on finances. Moynihan, in particular, targeted the dynamic whereby wealthy Northeastern states, such as New York (and Massachusetts, by the way) raise far more money for the federal government than they get back. Moynihan put out an eagerly anticipated finance report known as the “fisc;”  the Library of Congress explains the abundance of such documents on its site, saying  “one of the largest groups of material relates to Fisc reports, Moynihan’s annual report on the impact of federal spending and tax collection of the states, particularly as it affected New York.” (This is the subtext to the famous exchange between Hillary Clinton and Russert about Social Security. Russert expected Clinton to carry on Moynihan’s interest in this area, and Clinton was well-prepared for it.) 

Kennedy’s Speech

August 26, 2008

Kennedy gave his best convention speech of the three I’ve attended. In the past, I’ve thought he can be a bit loud. Tonight I thought he was perfect. Energetic and fiery. I loved his reference at the end to “the dream” calling to mind his classic 1980 convention speech.

Kennedy Will Speak

August 25, 2008

In what is sure to be one of the emotional highlights of the convention, Ted Kennedy will speak tomorrow night. I’ve heard this confirmed from multiple sources. Kennedy has been stricken with brain cancer; his appearance will serve as a counterpoint to his famous 1980 convention speech.

Ted Kennedy and His Legacy

May 21, 2008

Everyone in Massachusetts is still digesting the terrible, terrible news about Ted Kennedy.

I wrote a news story about it for The New York Sun.

During my reporting for that story I reached out to Marty Nolan, the Globe’s historic Washington bureau chief. Here’s what he wrote (You may not be able to read Nolan in the Globe, but you can read him at!):

“I first met Ted Kennedy in the lobby of the Parker House in 1962, when he said he was eager not only to run against Eddie McCormack, then the Mass. AG, but eager to debate him fior the U.S. Senate.
The figuring among Bay State pundits was that Kennedy would duck debates because of his thin public record as Suffolk Co. Asst DA and all the favoritism, nepotism charges that would arise. ‘Starting at the top,’ they called it and they were right. He had just turned 30, the Constitutionally eligible age for the Senate on Feb. 22. This means he was born on the 200th anniv. of George Washington’s birthday. When he was born, the 9th of 9, (!), his brother Jack wanted to name his George Washington Kennedy, but papa Joe had other ideas.
Little did any of us know then that he would become the George Washington of the Senate, one of its legendary giants, not only in seniority (3rd all time behind R. Byrd and Strom Thurmond) but in accomplishment.
Just about 50 years ago, JFK was appointed to choose the 5 all-time best senatorswhose portraits would be painted in oval panels in the Sen. Reception room. Webster, Clay, et al. are there, but they’re gonna need a 6th one.
Byrd, who defeated him for Majority Whip in 1970, said in 199 “In My judgment, Sen. Kennedy probably has his name on more legislation that has become law, than probably any other senator.” By that, Byrd added, not “legislation the Administration wants, but legislation that originates in the committee on which a senator sits, legislation which he nurtures and develops and promotes, I don’t think there are many senators, if any, as his peer.”
And he is a heckuva guy, who loves politics and loves life. He is thoroughly bipartisan, even in this poisonous time. He has ideological opponents in the Senate, but no enemies.”

Ted Kennedy Hospitalization: NECN Coverage

May 17, 2008

Watch me here on NECN with Jim Braude and R.D. Sahl. I’ll add more as NECN makes it available.

Kennedy Statement

May 17, 2008

Here’s the statement of Kennedy’s office on his hospitalization via

“It appears that Senator Kennedy experienced a seizure this morning. He is undergoing a battery of tests at Massachusetts General Hospital to determine the cause of the seizure. Senator Kennedy is resting comfortably, and it is unlikely we will know anything more for the next 48 hours.”’s prayers go out to the senator as he recovers.

David Nyhan on Ted Kennedy

May 17, 2008

The last great piece of David Nyhan’s life was his story on Ted Kennedy just prior to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Read it here.

Nyhan had a great anecdote in Kennedy’s role in getting Boston the 2004 Democratic National Convention: “When he returns to the old executive mansion nowadays, he mostly stays downstairs. Except for the Clinton interregnum, it’s always been business: negotiations, state dinners, bill signings. Now he’s on the verge of having one of his own back upstairs in the living quarters, over the store at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. But Kerry’s not the only local politician who has benefited from Kennedy’s considerable political bulk. Menino spent four years pursuing this month’s Democratic National Convention. He got it down to the two-yard line, then called for Kennedy to push the ball over the goal line. Kennedy dialed up Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Party chairman, with this message: Tell me if Boston has a real chance to snag this, or is it a bag job for New York?

Kennedy was assured it wasn’t in the satchel for New York, that Boston was alive, but the key issue was money and the $50-odd million needed from Massachusetts Democrats. Kennedy joined Menino working the phones, collaring wealthy donors, encouraging wary business types, smoothing out the wrinkles in the city’s pitch. Save for his buddy Menino, no one did more to land the city’s first convention. Whether Kennedy is also the kingmaker, we won’t know until November. But along with Menino, he is co-maker of the throne.”

Nyhan died in 2005 and we miss him. I’ll do my best to help fill the void on NECN at 4 p.m. as part of breaking news coverage.

Ted Kennedy Rallies Troops for Obama in Boston

February 5, 2008

Ted Kennedy just finished revving up the crowd at the World Trade Center. He bellowed in the style of old-time politics. “The good news tonight is that one year from now we won’t have George Bush as president,” he said as he began. “If you care about Massachusetts. If you care about America, you’re going to vote for Barack Obama,” he concluded to thunderous applause.