Name-recalling in healthcare fight: Wellstone, Kennedy
The healthcare fight has turned into a power struggle over names.
Conservatives have the sirens out warning about the “Wellstone effect” in a jab at trying to knock out any inclination Liberals may have to capitalize on the Kennedy name in pursuing healthcare overhaul, one of Senator Edward Kennedy’s signature issues.
Trouble is that the Wellstone analogy doesn’t automatically jump out for everyone.
It takes a bit of digging into the memory banks (or perhaps Googling) to refresh the brain cells that the reference is to the 2002 memorial service for Democrat Senator Paul Wellstone which was criticized for turning into a political event. Backlash contributed to Democrats losing that Senate seat.
Conservatives may be worrying that the emotional effect from Senator Edward Kennedy’s death may swing the healthcare debate toward the left, especially after Senator Robert Byrd proposed stamping Kennedy’s name on the legislation.
But analysts say while the Kennedy name is powerful, it is unlikely to shift the balance in the healthcare debate.
“I don’t think it will bring any Republicans aboard, they have decided not to legislate, but to oppose and to kill (healthcare reform). And it may stiffen the spine of a few Democrats,” Thomas Mann, senior fellow of governance studies at The Brookings Institution, said.
Photo credit: Reuters/Eric Miller (Memorial service for Wellstone in 2002)