Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reflecting and Reporting on the Democratic Party Convention: The Kennedys, the Obamas, Ald. Burke and “moving on.”

Monday night, at the Democratic Party Convention in Denver, it appeared Senator Teddy Kennedy (D-MA) upstaged Michelle Obama a bit. It was not that Michelle was not warmly received at the Pepsi Center [This reporter kept hearing the Billy Goat’s and Second City’s “Pepsi, Pepsi, no Coke.”] Michelle was warmly received, performed and spoke well, and she may have achieved what she set out to do. That is, be irresistibly likeable by the great majority of Americans [If not as much as her husband, at least in his league] and remove that bad taste in America’s mouth from her comment about being proud of America for the first time in her adult life-- as a result of Barack’s run for President.

But, standing on the floor with the Illinois delegation, this reporter felt the tremendous warmth and affection of that crowd that Democrats all over feel for the Kennedys and the last of Joe’s boys to still be driving the Kennedy dream forward. Teddy Kennedy spoke of a “New hope for a just and fair prosperity for the many and not just for the few…and a guarantee for every American…decent quality health care [the cause of his life, Teddy said] “.

There was the obligatory feel good film showing Teddy with his family sailing and engaging in other uplifting activities [You had to wonder: might any MSM journalist feel it appropriate to ask Teddy some time how many sailboats does he own [ala how many houses do the McCains own], how did the Kennedys obtain their great wealth and how did Joe Kennedy’s bootleg whiskey enterprises compare with the way the McCain family obtained their wealth-- the magnitude of which some in the media think should be a source of great concern for McCain’s ability to be a good President.

All people of good will wish Teddy well in dealing with his difficult health issues. However, there is no reason to carry that thought and empathy further and deify Mr. Ted. So, this reporter gently tried that thought out with the first celebrity pol he could get to on the Convention floor (after all, no MSM could be expected to do this—asking questions like this has become the “cause of this reporter’s life,” so to speak):

Jeff Berkowitz: What do you think of the Ted Kennedy speech?

Ald. Burke (D-Finance Committee Chairman, Chicago): It was inspirational to be able to listen to Teddy’s words and see what a remarkable comeback he has made recently in his health.

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you think it will inspire others?

Ald. Burke: How can it not move people to see the great courage our nation has been able to witness in the Kennedy family for all these many years?

Jeff Berkowitz: Looking back, how different would it have been if he had been able to be President?

Ald. Burke: You can’t look back and we shouldn’t dwell on “what ifs or buts.” We should look forward to great victories.

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you think anybody is thinking about Chappaquiddick?

Ald. Burke: I think that that chapter in his life, just like all of us have had chapters in our lives we’d like to move on from, is long gone. His legacy will be— [Ed. Note: Well, that chapter may be gone, but not forgotten and not all of us are ready to “move on from.” After all, how many of us have had “chapters,” that might involve our responsibility for the death of another human being?]

Jeff Berkowitz: But for Chappaquiddick, he would have been President, don’t you think?

Ald. Burke: As I said, you can’t do “what ifs and buts,” you look forward.

Jeff Berkowitz: Are you confident Barack Obama is going to be President of the United States?

Ald. Burke: I think there is almost a sense of inevitability about it. I really do. That’s the sense I get.

Jeff Berkowitz: Does Biden help him?

Ald. Burke: He can’t hurt.

Jeff Berkowitz: How does he argue “change.” 36 years in the Senate [by Biden].

Ald. Burke: But, by the same token, I think there is an added layer of experience and competence.

Jeff Berkowitz: Gravitas?

Ald. Burke: I don’t know if I like the word “gravitas.” Some might say that. [Of course, when Cheney became Bush’s VP nominee in 2000, it was said by many pundits that the “experienced old pro,” from the government and private sector added “gravitas,” to the Bush-Cheney ticket]

Jeff Berkowitz: Jeff Berkowitz: Is Biden Barack Obama’s Dick Cheney?

Ald. Burke: Oh no, I don’t think so. Not at all, that’s-- Dick Cheney has too much of a negative implication. [and Ald. Burke gave his trademark Irish smile as we concluded our little chat that occurred as the Teddy Kennedy floor celebration continued. It was “our moment.”]