Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why did Ted Kennedy choose Obama over Hillary?

Basically, Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama because 1) Obama truly inspires him, and 2) the Clintons pissed him off.

Let's look at the first reason. Kennedy's speech yesterday displayed that inspiration.
Every time I’ve been asked over the past year who I would support in the Democratic Primary, my answer has always been the same: I’ll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country’s best days are still to come.

I’ve found that candidate. And it looks to me like you have too.
*******
Let there be no doubt: We are all committed to seeing a Democratic President in 2008.

But I believe there is one candidate who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history.

He understands what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “fierce urgency of now.”

He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past. He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view.

He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to “the better angels of our nature.”

I am proud to stand here today and offer my help, my voice, my energy and my commitment to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

Like most of the nation, I was moved four years ago as he told us a profound truth—that we are not, we must not be, just red states and blue states, but one United States. And since that time I have marveled at his grit and his grace as he traveled this country and inspired record turnouts of people of all ages, of all races, of all genders, of all parties and faiths to get “fired up” and “ready to go.”

I’ve seen him connect with people from every walk of life and with Senators on both sides of the aisle. With every person he meets, every crowd he inspires, and everyone he touches, he generates new hope that our greatest days as a nation are still ahead, and this generation of Americans, like others before us, can unite to meet our own rendezvous with destiny.
*******
Now, with Barack Obama, there is a new national leader who has given America a different kind of campaign—a campaign not just about himself, but about all of us. A campaign about the country we will become, if we can rise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another.

I remember another such time, in the 1960s, when I came to the Senate at the age of 30. We had a new president who inspired the nation, especially the young, to seek a new frontier. Those inspired young people marched, sat in at lunch counters, protested the war in Vietnam and served honorably in that war even when they opposed it.

They realized that when they asked what they could do for their country, they could change the world.

It was the young who led the first Earth Day and issued a clarion call to protect the environment; the young who enlisted in the cause of civil rights and equality for women; the young who joined the Peace Corps and showed the world the hopeful face of America.

At the fifth anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps, I asked one of those young Americans why they had volunteered.

And I will never forget the answer: “It was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country.”

This is another such time.

I sense the same kind of yearning today, the same kind of hunger to move on and move America forward. I see it not just in young people, but in all our people.

And in Barack Obama, I see not just the audacity, but the possibility of hope for the America that is yet to be.
*******
There was another time, when another young candidate was running for President and challenging America to cross a New Frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic President, who was widely respected in the party. Harry Truman said we needed “someone with greater experience”—and added: “May I urge you to be patient.” And John Kennedy replied: “The world is changing. The old ways will not do…It is time for a new generation of leadership.”

So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now.
And there was more. If reading the words alone does not convey Kennedy's inspired tone, watch the video.

So much for the first reason. Now let's have some fun.

Earlier this month, several prominent Democrats talked to Bill Clinton and advised him, for the sake of the party and whoever would be the nominee, to tone down his attacks on Obama. According to Newsweek, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, Ted Kennedy was among that group, and his conversation with Bill was heated. And, of course, as everyone except Hillary Kool Aid drinkers knows, Bill in no way toned down his attacks.

And then the Hillary campaign panicked when word starting circulating that Ted Kennedy was considering endorsing Obama. According to the New York Times, "Both the Clintons and their allies had pressed Mr. Kennedy for weeks to remain neutral in the Democratic race[.]" And that effort concluded with a call from Bill his ownself. Those entreaties were rejected in part because of how Hillary and Bill had been campaigning against Obama. Again from the NYT:
Before the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Kennedy had planned to stay out of the race, largely because he had so many friends in the contest, chiefly Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut. He also said he was waiting for one of the candidates to spark a movement.

"I want to see who out there is going to be able to inspire not only our party, but others, because I think we’re going to need the inspiration in order to bring a change in American foreign policy and domestic policy," Mr. Kennedy said last year on ABC News’s "This Week."
Apparently, what Hillary and Bill had been saying convinced Kennedy that Hillary was not the candidate to inspire--which is what I have been saying. According to this NYT article, Kennedy "had grown furious at the tone of the presidential campaign, including the words and actions of former President Bill Clinton[.]" So Hillary's and Bill's negative campaigning played a big role in losing a very big endorsement. Way to go, you schmucks. Yet another brilliant and smooth move.

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