As the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
is dedicated Monday, all eyes are on Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who one writer says is "already" the new Ted Kennedy.
In an opinion piece for Politico,
Boston-area writer Tom Keane explains that while the two senators' entrances into the Senate were very different, with Kennedy winning with barely a fight largely because of the popularity of his brother, John F. Kennedy, who was in the White House at the time, and Warren taking on then-Sen. Scott Brown to make it to Washington, she already resembles the "Lion of the Senate."
According to to Keane, a former Boston city councilor, when Brown "had improbably won" following Kennedy's death he "had interrupted the narrative: One liberal should have led to the next.
"Warren’s win fixed it . . . she was the rightful heir to Kennedy’s seat and the rightful heir, as well, to lead the Democratic Party’s progressive wing," he added.
Just as Kennedy became "the liberal's liberal," her rhetoric has become the "articulation of progressive values."
Both Kennedy and Warren have "seized on a central issue," Keane writes. "For Kennedy, it was healthcare," which he called "the cause of my life." Warren has her attention on the financial struggles of the middle and lower classes.
"Her family was nearly ruined by debt," according to the Boston area writer, which has led her to conclude that the the "game is rigged . . . in favor of those who have money and who have power."
And it is with that passion that she pushed for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau following the economic crisis in 2008, Keane explained.
However, there are differences in their approach. Kennedy had a stunning "record of accomplishment," having introduced "more than 2,500 pieces of legislation introduced and over 300 passed into law."
Even though Warren has merely been in office for two years, her legislative record is "thin, at best," he contends.
While Kennedy "cajoled, flattered, bargained and harangued with whomever necessary to get" his measures passed, Warren has "appeared to brook no compromise" and in that vein "seems anything but Kennedyesque."
However, Keane contends that "the image of Kennedy as the well-regarded inside player reaching across the aisle is a bit of myth-making."
Kennedy, he writes, became "the ardent voice of the opposition" during the Reagan years and "singlehandedly stopped the nomination of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court," which "was a sharp departure from traditional Senate rules of decorum."
And in that vein, "much of what Kennedy did sounds quite Warrenesque."
According to Keane, Kennedy showed that "the Senate could . . . be a bully pulpit, a platform for grand ideas and a place to be the opposition.
"That, it seems, is what Warren is doing."
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