Thursday, August 27, 2009
Ted Kennedy: The Hollow Champion
While Teddy Kennedy's disasters were vivid, his legislative triumphs, draped in this week's obituaries with respectful homage, were far less colourful. And they were actually devastating for the very constituencies – working people, organised labour –whose champion he claimed to be.
Though the obituarists have glowingly related Kennedy's 46-year stint in the US Senate and, as 'the last liberal', his mastery of the legislative process, they miss the fact that it was out of Kennedy's Senate office that came two momentous bits of legislation that signalled the onset of the neo-liberal era: deregulation of trucking and aviation. They were a disaster for organised labour and the working conditions and pay of people in those industries.
(Kennedy).. helped push through NAFTA, the "free trade" pact that was another body blow to American labour.
....because his mishaps were so dramatic, no one remembers quite how noxious his political triumphs were for those who now mourn him as their lost leader.
You can read the rest of Alexander Cockburn's brilliant piece on the late Teddy Kennedy- and why he was no champion of the working man- here.
UPDATE: Today's Morning Star editorial discusses Kennedy's mixed record on foreign policy issues:
A knee-jerk cold warrior, he initially backed the Vietnam war, supported the 2001 Afghanistan invasion and talked up the threat from Iran in 2002. Of his stance on Israel, we need only quote thuggish far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who called him "a great friend to Israel" who "stood by Israel's side in its most trying times."
But he recanted on Vietnam to become a fierce critic of the war, opposed the Iraq invasion and was honoured by Chile last year as one of the few prominent US politicians who stood firm against Reagan's murderous interventions in Latin America.