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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Senator Kirk

Does your last name need to begin with a K to be senator from Massachusetts?

The presence of all those Kennedys up on the rostrum was the ultimate punctuation mark on how the fix was in to name Paul Kirk interim senator to fill the seat of the late Ted Kennedy until January's special election.

Michael Dukakis never stood a chance.

A family with enough clout and good will to slip a $20 million earmark for the Ted Kennedy Institute into a defense bill is going to get its way more often than not.

Deval Patrick was in a lose-lose situation in making the pick. The Kennedys would have been annoyed if they did not get their way -- the same way supporters of Michael Dukakis are today.

And despite the threat by some Dukakis backers of sitting on the sideline next year, Patrick was already looking at taunts from Christy Mihos about using Dukakis as a weapon against Patrick in his own re-election bid.

Now Patrick has to face the issue of Kirk's corporate board appointments and appearing as if he was simply a marionette being controlled by Vickie Kennedy and her late husband's sons.

All of this to fill a job for about 120 days.

No question the seat needed to be filled. And in Kirk, the executor of Kennedy's estate, Massachusetts has a man who knows Washington and can follow the Kennedy legacy.

A political fixer with the demeanor more like Spock than the other well known Kirk (James Tiberius), he may be able to help work the magic that Kennedy often brought to legislative negotiations. But I must admit that as a former Democratic National Committee Chair operating in this current foul political climate I have my doubts he will be seen as a unifier like Kennedy.

The bigger conciliation effort will likely be the one to assuage Dukakis followers that they should not take out their unhappiness on Patrick.

And what of the Duke? As always, the voice of reason. Hiding his disappointment, he told the Globe:
“If it had to be somebody else, believe me, this was the guy. He will hit the ground running, probably even faster than I would, because he was down in Washington. . . . He’s going to be fine.’’
Kirk should weather the sturm und drang from Republicans trying to delay the appointment and while he is not as pure as the driven snow compared to Dukakis when it comes to corporate activity, he should weather that too. It is, after all, a Washington fact of life.

The bigger challenge to his mediation skills will come in January, when he returns home, and begins to repair the rift between Patrick and Dukakis loyalists.

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Anonymous leslie brown said...

I hope he can be as honest and loyal to the American people as our previous Senator, Kennedy!!!

September 25, 2009 3:08 PM  

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