U.S. conservative talk radio: little fondness for Kennedy legacy
Ted Kennedy’s polarizing political legacy was on full display on Wednesday as some U.S. conservatives showed little restraint in their hostility for the veteran liberal senator who died late on Tuesday.
Conservative talk radio hosts blasted away at the policies of Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party and a standard bearer of liberal causes who died at age 77 after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.
Nationally syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh said the political left was “exploiting his death and his legacy” to advance President Barack Obama’s agenda for healthcare reform, which was also one of Kennedy’s signature issues.
“The greatest tribute would be that every American would get the same healthcare option that Ted Kennedy got. Ted Kennedy did not have to face death panels,” Limbaugh told his listeners, referring to persistent but incorrect rumours that, under the reforms now being debated, “death panels” would have a say in whether ailing senior citizens would get life-saving care.
Others took issue with a range of liberal causes linked to Kennedy, saying his policies had sullied his legacy in the conservative heartland.
“The entire Kennedy family was right on civil rights in the 1960s but ever since that it’s been about the perpetuation of the racism that is affirmative action,” said Mark Davis, a conservative talk radio host in Dallas.
“The Democratic Party has even gotten to the point now where they’re even wrong on civil rights so this is a tough legacy to muddle through.”
One woman called into his show asking if it was appropriate for Kennedy to have a “huge, Catholic mass” for his funeral because of his support for abortion rights.
In its article about Kennedy’s death, the Vatican newspaper praised him for his battles in favor of immigrant rights, gun control and higher minimum wages, but regretted his “unfortunate” support of abortion.
Other U.S. conservative responses took a distinctly different tone.
Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, said: “…by the end of his life he had become irreplaceable in the institution he loved and in the affections of its members. He grew up in the long shadow of his brothers, but found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Micah Walter (Radio show host Rush Limbaugh)