Tales from the Trail

from Summit Notebook:

Dodd Rejects Carter Criticism of Ted Kennedy

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd on Monday came to the defense of his old buddy, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, against new criticism by former President Jimmy Carter.

doddDodd rejected Carter's charge that Americans could have begun enjoying the benefits of sweeping healthcare long ago if Kennedy hadn't stopped a plan by Carter in 1979.

Speaking at the Reuters Summit, Dodd declared, "All I can say is that no one cared more about the issue" of healthcare than Kennedy, a fellow Democrat.

Dodd said Kennedy admitted to missed opportunities in his long crusade to provide healthcare to all Americans, but didn't see his failure to back Carter's unsuccessful bid as among them.

"I will take the Kennedy side of that debate," Dodd said in standing up for the liberal icon who died last year of brain cancer.  "I think he did the best he could in '79."

Kennedy is watching over healthcare week, Obama says

OBAMA/

The late Senator Ted Kennedy, who was a long-time advocate for U.S. healthcare reform, is watching over Congress this week, President Barack Obama said, as it moves to take the last steps on legislation to  revamp the massive health industry.

“Today, of course, we all feel the heavy absence of one of our greatest Irish-Americans; a man who loved this day so much; a man who I believe is still watching this body closely, particularly this week — and that is our beloved Ted Kennedy,” Obama said.

The president remembered the famed Democratic politician at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Friends of Ireland Luncheon on Capitol Hill that was attended by Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, and son Patrick, a U.S. representative from Rhode Island.

Kirk follows in Kennedy’s footsteps on healthcare, without the roar

If Ted Kennedy were alive, he would have been proud.

He also would have likely been counting votes.

And even raising his thunderous voice.

IRAQ-USA/CONGRESSOn Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Kennedy’s temporary replacement in the U.S. Senate echoed the fallen lawmaker’s call for Democrats and Republicans to work together and finally overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.

In his first Senate speech since being sworn in last month, Paul Kirk said: “Of all the issues on which he led the Senate and our nation, the one Ted Kennedy called the cause of his life was the battle for affordable, quality health care.”

“After decades of falling short of the mark … (it) is at long last within reach,” said Kirk, who was appointed by the Massachusetts governor to fill Kennedy’s seat until a successor can be elected in a special election in January. Kennedy died of brain cancer in August.

Senate names room for fallen Kennedy brothers

The Kennedy family is the only one to send three brothers to the U.S. Senate, and the fallen trio now has one of the most historic rooms on Capitol Hill named in their honor.

Without dissent, the Senate approved a resolution on Monday to rename the Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building “The Kennedy Caucus Room.”

Measuring 74 feet by 54 feet, the Russell Room is one of the oldest and largest Senate assembly rooms outside the U.S. Capitol. Featuring three chandeliers, it has hosted hearings on the sinking of the Titanic cruise ship (1912), the Watergate scandal (1973), and the explosive confirmation hearings for then Supreme Court-nominee Clarence Thomas that involved charges of sexual harassment (1991).

Visitors drawn to new Kennedy gravesite

Hundreds of people  lined up at  Arlington National Cemetery Sunday to visit the grave site of  Edward Kennedy a day after the long-time senator from Massachusetts was laid to rest in a private service.

A simple cross and a memorial tablet mark the gravesite, near those of  the late senator’s brothers,  Senator Robert Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy.  On Sunday, small bouquets of flowers were placed on the ground nearby.

Edward Kennedy died last week, at age 77, after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

The First Draft: Swearing-in is one thing. A White House do is another.

USA-SOTOMAYOR/For those who may have missed it — and don’t laugh, there could be quite a few who did — there’s a new Supreme Court justice in town. After months of speculation, debate, a Capitol Hill grilling and finally a vote to confirm her, Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the first Latina and only the third woman to serve on the U.S. high court.

The problem, for public-awareness purposes, is that it happened on Saturday in an eye-blink ceremony in a conference room at the Supreme Court building. That was a departure from decades of tradition that has dictated a White House oath-taking for new justices, reportedly on President Barack Obama’s say-so.

That doesn’t mean Sotomayor won’t get her time at the White House. That happens this morning in an East Room reception hosted by the president and first lady Michelle Obama.

Just say “Bo” – Obama White House unveils first dog

USA/The Obama White House on Sunday unveiled the first family’s new pet, a 6-month-old male Portuguese Water Dog named Bo.
    
The black-and-white, curly-haired Bo was a gift to Obama daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, from Senator Ted Kennedy and will take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave on Tuesday.
    
President Barack Obama had promised his daughters a new puppy during his campaign for the White House. In January, he told reporters the front-runner breeds were a Portuguese Water Dog and a Labradoodle.
    
The Web site of Dog Breed Info Center describes the Portuguese Water Dog as a hardy, muscular, medium-sized dog that grows to about 20-22 inches (51-56 cm) tall and is “lively but sensible, and loyal.”
    
“Bear in mind that this extremely intelligent dog will take liberties if it feels it is stronger-minded than its owners,” the center said. “This breed may out-think its owner!”
    
Online advertisements by U.S. and Canadian breeders quote prices for Portuguese Water Dogs at between $2000 and $2900.
    
The water-loving breed gets its name from its long history of helping Portuguese fisherman herd and catch fish, retrieve tackle, and carry messages between ships.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Pete Souza-The White House/Handout – Bo, a 6-month-old male Portuguese Water Dog, is seen in this White House photograph released April 12, 2009.