Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is Senator Clinton The New Ted Kennedy?

(image via politico)

Senator Ted Kennedy ran for the Presidency and, politically wounded from Chappaquiddick (among other reasons), was deemed, nationally, as unelectable. And so ended the dreams of a Kennedy Restoration in the White House. But his years in the Senate, his ability to cross the aisle to craft bipartisan legislation and his commitment to the issues unencumbered by a Senatorial ambition for the top office in the land has earned him the title "Lion of the Senate." It is a sobriquet, considering the Senator from Massachusetts' present health, that could go in the near future to Senator Hillary Clinton.

Her magnificent campaign has garnered her a respect that goes far beyond her on-paper status as the Junior Senator from the great state of New York. Though in terms of Senate superiority she is low on the ladder, Clinton's showings across the country -- as a fighter, as an extraordinarily able debater -- make her, if Ted Kennedy is so inclined, the perfect heir to the mantle of Senate Lion. From Politico:

"Clinton has had some time to ponder the pain of defeat — and how gracious to be in facing it — but the senator was all smiles as she returned to her day job Tuesday. She received a standing ovation from her Democratic colleagues, a paparazzi-style greeting from the press and a rousing welcome back speech from her New York colleague, Sen. Charles Schumer.

"But the first day back is inevitably followed by the second, and with the red carpet rolled up and the ping-pong table stowed away, Clinton must now confront whatever lies ahead.

"The bad news: She’s still the junior senator from New York, lacking any leadership title or chairmanship.

"The good news: Clinton’s Senate colleagues say that her political capital remains high enough that she can drive the conversation in any direction she chooses — Iraq funding, health care, energy policy — and elevate issues to help Sen. Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as a whole.

"'She’s into the housing debate, Medicare, [Iraq funding] supplemental,' said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). 'She brings value to all these issues.'"

In addition to her constituency in New York, Hillary now has "Hillary Democrats." And if the standing ovation she received on her return to the Senate is any indication, her status in the Senate has increased significantly, to say the least. Actually, the triumphant return to the floor of the US Senate begs the question: Did she lose? Her future in the Senate is so bright, she's got to wear shades.

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