Whatever else there is to say about Ted Kennedy, he was a sharp politician and a family loyalist to the end. He had been working overtime from his deathbed to get the Massachusetts Senate succession law changed, so that a successor could be appointed post haste. The rumor was that he wanted his wife, Victoria, to have his seat. But there are plenty of other Kennedys and ideological soulmates (or sympathizers) with whom he might have been happy. In any case, as even the New York Times was forced to agree yesterday, it would be “unseemly” to again change the relevant law. It was changed previously to prevent then-governor Mitt Romney from getting to appoint a successor at the time that Massachusetts senator John Kerry was running for president. So, the people of Massachusetts will get to vote.
Who better to succeed the greatest Senate advocate for welfare, labor rights, and nationalized health care, than . . . former governor Mitt Romney. As Peter Roff at U.S. News suggests, should Romney run for and win that seat, he would actually be in a position to make a real difference in the health-care debate. Needless to say, proving himself effective in that role — and why wouldn’t he? — would put him in a far better position to run for president in 2012.
It has been a pet peeve of mine for decades that so many potential GOP stars, especially the wealthy ones, run for high office once, don’t win, and then walk away. To be sure, Romney is clearly running again. But what if Jack Kemp or Rudy Giuliani had run for the Senate? For that matter, what if Giuliani now jumps into the New York gubernatorial race? Doing so would show a seriousness of purpose about actually governing. We know what it looks like when people want to be president just because. Romney could be a serious leader of a renewed opposition. Then . . . the sky’s the limit.