The announcement of Sen. Ted Kennedy's death came at 2 a.m. Eastern on Aug. 26 and a little over 15 hours later, two prominent liberal voices were scheming as to how the president and other Democratic leaders could use his passing to advance a political agenda.
Huffington Post editor Arianna Huffington appeared on MSNBC host Ed Schultz's Aug. 26 program and was asked by Schultz if it somehow could be used to push "real reform" for health care.
"The passing of Ted Kennedy - could this be a rallying cry for progressives to carry this fight through and to see real reform and health care in this country?" Schultz said. "Because, of course, I think everybody on the left knows that this was his passion, this was his cause."
Huffington agreed, but she didn't stop at health care. She had a litany of issues that she said his death should be used to promote the "progressive" brand of solutions for.
"The causes that he fought for, the causes that he made his own, including health care, including fighting against the war in Iraq, including fighting against apartheid in South Africa, including the civil rights legislation - all that really is what America is about," Huffington said. "And so, whenever we just say this is the left, and Ted Kennedy represents the left, we are marginalizing it. And what we need to do now more than ever is to come together to address these huge problems we are facing with health care, with foreclosures, with job losses - to really put the American people at the center of the debate again the way he did again and again."
And Schultz also asked the Huffington Post founder if she thought Kennedy's passing could be used to "rally" and "motivate" Americans to "fight" for their ideological position on hot-button issues.
"Absolutely, I really do. And I also think that the White House and many in the Senate may actually learn that, as Ted Kennedy said in 1980, warning the Democratic Party that if they abandon their core values, they are going to lose," Huffington explained. "Well, once again here, Democrats are in danger of abandoning their core values, watering down what they stand for, and losing. So that's really a great teachable moment for the Democratic Party."
According to Huffington, Ted Kennedy passed his brother's torch, that of former President John F. Kennedy, to President Barack Obama and that was a signal for the current president to speak out on the health care issue, which she actually said would make America "a more perfect union."
"Well, in a sense, Ed, you know, Sen. Kennedy passed the torch, the JFK torch, the Kennedy torch, on to Obama during the primaries," Huffington said. "So now Obama needs to rise to that occasion and actually speak passionately about health care as a moral imperative, the way Ted Kennedy has been speaking about it for 40 years. This is not just about cost cutting, important as cost cutting is. This is really about the next step in America's journey towards becoming a more perfect union."
Interestingly, President John F. Kennedy was a tax-cutter, as Business & Media Institute adviser Dan Mitchell pointed out for the Heritage Foundation in 2003, which is not part of the Kennedy "torch" that Huffington and Schultz acknowledged.
"President Hoover dramatically increased tax rates in the 1930s and President Roosevelt compounded the damage by pushing marginal tax rates to more than 90 percent," Mitchell wrote. "Recognizing that high tax rates were hindering the economy, President Kennedy proposed across-the-board tax rate reductions that reduced the top tax rate from more than 90 percent down to 70 percent. What happened? Tax revenues climbed from $94 billion in 1961 to $153 billion in 1968, an increase of 62 percent (33 percent after adjusting for inflation)."