Nature of Legislatures-Edward Brooke and Ted Kennedy

Edward W. Brooke was a Republican Senator from Massachusetts, spanning 1967 to 1979.  He was one of three new Republican Senators elected in 1966.   Brooke won re-election in 1972. This was despite George McGovern carrying Massachusetts, the only state going Democratic in that year’s presidential race.  In his 2008 book,  Bridging the Divide,  Senator Brooke commented on Senator Edward Kennedy.  This is  an appraisal  both of Kennedy’s years in the Senate and a  flaw in our system.

Unless a Senator first becomes Vice President,  it is almost impossible to be a great or even a good Senator and get your party’s Presidential Nomination.  This holds equally for Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, and Conservatives.  Examples-Republicans such as George Norris, Robert A. Taft or Arthur Vandenburg or Democrats such as Phillip Hart, Paul Douglas, or Wayne Morse.  Lyndon Johnson became President  and Hubert Humphrey was the Democratic Nominee in 1968.  Both of these Senate Giants spent, or should I say wasted, some time in the Vice Presidency.

Good Senators craft legislation; take stands on all key issues; apply the constitution fairly and consistently; work with the opposition party; and address  beliefs to groups that disagree, and are often hostile to, his (her) principles.  No one can really do this and run for President concurrently.  It is dangerous in politics to say anything people might remember.  A good Senator will obviously not get support from his opposition.

Nevertheless, supporters of the Senator pose an even bigger.  In politics, compromise is essential and many people often feel the Senator yielded too much on a successful yet watered down effort.  The general public and politicians are aware of the pitfalls of Senatorial excellence.  Here is the biggest of many examples:  In 1952 Barry Goldwater, running for his first Senate term, endorsed General Eisenhower over Senator Robert A. Taft.  Goldwater’s ideas for far closer to Taft’s than Eisenhower.  Like Goldwater, Taft was a Western Conservative at odds with the Eastern Liberal Republican Establishment.  This group endorsed Eisenhower over Taft.  The Easterners had also opposed Senator Taft in the three previous elections supporting Wendell Willkey in 1940 and Thomas Dewey in 44 and 48.  Barry Goldwater simply knew that Taft’s record, though brilliant, had points that would turn off major segments of the electorate.  By the way the hazy dividing  line, between Western and Eastern Republicans, was Pittsburgh.

Since the Civil War, there have to me been only two exceptions to this rule.  As stated George McGovern  got the Democratic Nomination in 1972.  Robert Dole did like with the Republicans in 1996.

Below is Senator Brooke’s statement on his colleague for 12 years.   I capitalized the central issue.
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“For a long time during and after my Senate years, I have been asked my relationship with the other Massachusetts Senator, Ted Kennedy. For a time Ted’s office was next to mine in the Old Senate Office Building, now the Russell Building, but he never visited nor did I ever visit him.  As one might imagine, it was never easy to share power with a Kennedy.  Our staffs rarely interfaced on Senate matters or socially.  Also there was a generation gap; when I first took the Senate office, he was 35 and I was 48.  He was fiercely partisan. I was not.  Some of my best friends were Democrats.  With the exception of the enjoyable luncheon that he and Joan gave for Remigia{ Brooke’s wife} and me prior to my swearing in ceremony, I do not recall that we have ever broken bread together since.   Though there was far more civility in the 1960s and 1970 than there appears to be now, the Senate is strictly divided only party lines.  I suspect that there is bound to be “sibling rivalry” between same state Senators, particularly when they are of different parties, but it is also true when true are of the same party.  Though we co-sponsored many legislative bills and often voted together, we rarely collaborated.
 
In my early years in the Senate at looked at Ted as inarticulate and lacking in confidence.  But he has grown in stature and performance during his more than 40 years service.  He is now an accomplished able, articulate member of the United States Senate and the unrivaled champion of social causes.  ONCE HE ASSURED HIMSELF THAT THE PRESIDENCY WAS NOT GOING TO BE AVAILABLE TO HIM, HE SEEMED DETERMINED  TO BE THE BEST SENATOR HE COULD BE.  And he has.

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