Sunday, January 16, 2005

Kennedy's journey back to the future

Kennedy's journey back to the future
By Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe Columnist
January 16, 2005
FOR HIS annual message to the Democratic Party, Senator Edward M. Kennedy last week drew on three minds influenced by his party's modern architect, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Kennedy built this year's oration -- always studied with care in the political world because for an old, washed-up guy Kennedy has this enduring ability to see ahead -- on a journey back to the future. The New Deal, which grew out of earlier notions of a social contract between society and those who are willing to a work in a market economy, was above all a combination of efforts to promote opportunity and provide security. You want values? Try these: fairness, tolerance, mutual respect -- for everybody. Kennedy chose not to include moving to the center or triangulation among polarized opinions. That doesn't make him more or less liberal than other Democrats; it should just remind those interested in public life that values are deep in a progressive person's soul.
For major examples this year, Kennedy delved into a security theme (healthcare) and an opportunity theme (higher education) -- each rooted in those values and that dream.
Healthcare was the one that got away from Roosevelt. Harry Truman revived it, John Kennedy put it on the national agenda in 1960, and Lyndon Johnson presided over the creation of Medicare and Medicaid 40 years ago....