After death, Kennedy’s words still ring in healthcare debate

September 10, 2009

Two weeks after his death, Senator Edward Kennedy’s words on healthcare rang out before a joint session of Congress when President Barack Obama quoted from a letter that he received from the liberal Democrat posthumously. USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMA

Obama in seeking to turn public opinion his way in a primetime speech to Congress referred to Kennedy’s letter before an audience that included the late senator’s widow, Vicki, and two sons. The White House released it publicly after the president’s address.

The letter was written in May shortly after Kennedy was told that the brain cancer he was battling was terminal. The senator called healthcare reform “the cause of my life” and said he was optimistic that it would be achieved. USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMA

“When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society,” Kennedy wrote to Obama.

The senator also made a comparison to when his brother, John F. Kennedy, was president.

“I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world,” Kennedy wrote. “It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Obama at start of healthcare speech); Reuters/Larry Downing (Vicki Kennedy and Michelle Obama at president’s healthcare speech to Congress)


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After hearing the speech last night, I feel a great sense of relief about the heathcare reform issue, now finally knowing without a doubt that it has no chance of passing. We have headed off the socialist movement for just a little while longer.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

These trying times will certainly challenge the political maturity of the American people.

Posted by oscar canosa | Report as abusive

Frank, do you know anyone on Medicare or Medicaid? Do you pay taxes, use the power grid, watch television over public airwaves or drive on interstate highways? Well guess what bud………. socialism in action.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Eric h the prospect of a form of socialist state was always the reality,many people anticipate this prospect,I sold all my portfolio in 2007 when the market 12500,i followed Soros in investing in currency when the dollar goes down which is the trend i make money. but also a trend that i am hearing in conversations with people that i know that they are tempted to break with life long practices and possibly utilize the entitlement mentality that is now going to increase. Example a friend of mine she hates her job, she is 57 and knows that in the past if she packed in her job she would not find another one at her age and she needs the job for her health insurance.But what she is now saying is that she has the resorces to manage out of work and if she can get free health care because is unemployed for the 8 remaining years till she is 65,so this is going happen Eric h it could chance the dynamic of the country.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

[…] Kennedy’s legacy is more likely to be used to Democrats to rally their troops as Obama did September 9th.  Kennedy’s legacy regarding the passage of reformed health care, then, may not be as a segueway […]

Posted by How Ted Kennedy’s Passing Influences ‘Obamacare’ « The Situationist | Report as abusive