Michael Eric Dyson on CBS: Ted Kennedy Was The ‘Wind’ Beneath Obama’s Wings

On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer got reaction to Ted Kennedy’s death from left-wing Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, who touted the Senator’s importance in the 2008 campaign: "Of course Barack Obama had the wings of hope and the winds of possibility behind him, but Ted Kennedy was an awful powerful gust of wind that gave him a necessary lift."

Dyson, who was not identified as liberal, went on to describe Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama as coronation: "This was a man of American royalty bestowing upon Mr. Obama, if you will, the mantle of that kind of liberal leadership...I think that Senator Kennedy identified in Barack Obama the same hopefulness that he had seen glowing in the face of his brother John and radiating from the heart of his brother Robert."

Dyson continued to glorify Kennedy and Obama quasi-religous terms:

I think that he saw in Barack Obama the passing of the baton. He saw something new, some kinetic spirit, some amazing charisma that was able to catalyze the ambition of millions of people. And when he spotted it, he knew the real thing. He knew that Barack Obama was the real deal. And so, throwing his weight behind Obama was a way of continuing his – Ted Kennedy’s – legacy and also latching on to the legacy of an extraordinary phenom.

Minutes after speaking with Dyson, Schieffer himself declared that Kennedy "was the classic American hero."

Here is a full transcript of the exchange with Dyson:

10:50AM

BOB SCHIEFFER: Michael Eric Dyson, you wrote a lot about Barack Obama. You probably knew Obama better than you knew Ted Kennedy.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this question. Do you think Barack Obama would have been elected had not Ted Kennedy endorsed him?

DYSON: No, I don’t think so.

SCHIEFFER: Really?

DYSON: I mean, obviously – obviously he had a lot of momentum behind him. So I don’t want to say that he couldn’t have been elected without Ted Kennedy, but Ted Kennedy’s endorsement made it a lot easier. Of course Barack Obama had the wings of hope and the winds of possibility behind him, but Ted Kennedy was an awful powerful gust of wind that gave him a necessary lift. This was a man of American royalty bestowing upon Mr. Obama, if you will, the mantle of that kind of liberal leadership as Senator Hatch just talked about. And the courage to stick to your convictions, not to be uncompromising and unyielding, but to understand the difference between compromising for tactic and strategy and compromising the fundamental principle. And I think that his endorsement made America look seriously at this young man and those who were sitting on the fence to become much more committed to him and those who were already encouraged by Mr. Obama’s rise to go even further.

SCHIEFFER: There’s no question that Senator Obama appreciated that. And understood what it meant. Did he ever say to you, or did those around him, ever say to you why they thought, in the end, that Senator Kennedy decided to endorse Obama? This was a major thing and he was taking on a big part of the Democratic Party when he did.

DYSON: It was, I mean, obviously, with Caroline Kennedy’s endorsement the day before in the New York Times, in the op-ed, and Senator Kennedy the next day. But I think that Senator Kennedy identified in Barack Obama the same hopefulness that he had seen glowing in the face of his brother John and radiating from the heart of his brother Robert. I think that there was a kind of trilogy, if you will. Kennedy himself didn’t make it to the presidency. His two – though he ran. But I think that he saw in Barack Obama the passing of the baton. He saw something new, some kinetic spirit, some amazing charisma that was able to catalyze the ambition of millions of people. And when he spotted it, he knew the real thing. He knew that Barack Obama was the real deal. And so, throwing his weight behind Obama was a way of continuing his – Ted Kennedy’s – legacy and also latching on to the legacy of an extraordinary phenom.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC