STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator Kerry, there already is a big debate over what would Teddy do. I mean, I think a lot of liberals and progressives saying he would fight for this public health insurance option and, you know, if that -- if you didn’t have that, it wasn’t worth doing.
Others look at it, and I think you may be one of them who say, no, the lesson of Senator is that he got what he could get, the perfect couldn’t be the enemy of the good.
KERRY: Well, Ted would put facts on the table and he would put the reality of life for a lot of Americans on the table. And the reality of life is that we have over 87 million Americans every year during some portion of the year who don’t have insurance. And almost 50 million who all of the time don’t have insurance.
It costs them and costs America an enormous amount of money. We are not managing an efficient health care system. And so we are delivering worse health care for more money than many other nations in the world.
Now Orrin knows that. We know we can do a better job of providing health care to Americans. And what Teddy would do is he would fight for that public option, because he believes -- believed that the public option, as I do, is an effective -- the best way possible to be able to reduce the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he could count votes as well...
KERRY: Now let me just finish...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and the votes don’t seem to be there.
KERRY: Let me just finish. Let me finish. He would fight for it, and he would do everything in his power to get it, just like he did for the minimum wage or like he did for children’s health care, et cetera. But if he didn’t see the ability to be able to get it done, he would not throw the baby out with the bathwater. He would not say no to anything because we have to reduce the cost. We have to make these changes. And he would find the best way forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he wouldn’t agree with those like Howard Dean who say it’s not worth doing if you don’t have the public health insurance option?
KERRY: I think there is an enormous amount, George -- oh, here is what Teddy would do. He would say, I’m going to fight the fight, and if and when we get to the point that we can’t get there, we’ll see whether or not we can do enough to make good happen out of this.
And you can’t make that measurement today. We have to go down that road.
Here is my thing, if I could have my druthers then no Democrat would try to speak for Senator Edward M. "Teddy" Kennedy. They would respectfully decline to put words in his mouth and instead turn the conversation towards one of his life's ambitions of health care reform in general and then affirm their committment to making it happen.
However if a Democrat IS going to speak for the "Liberal Lion of the Senate" then at least they should come off sounding...well, liberal. I can tell you what I don't think Ted Kennedy ever would have done, and that's concede anything including whether or not he would compromise on a bill, to the press or in public. He made deals not in front of a camera or a microphone when he made them. He did it away from the prying eyes of the public.
Now even if Democrats see a need to compromise on a public option, which is not something I will support and in fact will motivate me to help insure this is Majority Leader Harry Reid's last term in the Senate, you don't concede that on a Sunday show so that it can now be used as a negotiating tool by ever Republican in the country. I will almost guarantee you that right now the RNC is working on talking points which will incorporate Kerry's stance that Teddy Kennedy wouldn't have "thrown the baby out with the bath water" so they can bash the left and claim if there is an obstacle to health care reform its us and not the wingnuts.
You gotta believe that Kerry knows this and yet so as to not look like a flaming liberal himself he just can't bring himself to actually stand strong on what is really already a major compromise for liberals and progressives. There is a reason that the 2004 election was close enough that it came down to one state even though Geroge Bush had already revealed himself to be close to a functioning moron by that time. And there is also a reason why Kerry never even attempted to fight for that state.
One thing is apparent, if there is to be another "Liberal Lion" in the Senate it won't be the new senior Senator from Massachusetts.