Paul Jacob

The cortège goes on and on. As I write these words, mourners still proceed by the casket of Sen. Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy (D-Mass). Organizers have all but thrown out the schedule. Ceremonies drag on longer than planned.

And I’m thinking, alas, that we’re burying a man who — while alive — served as a great advertisement for term limits.

Thus he did a great public service, in his own way. Far more salutary than, say, serving as a living, walking advertisement for better guard rails on bridges and waterside roadways.

Sorry about that last comment. There’s little reason to speak ill of the dead. But then, all this adoration and sorrow shown for the man bespeaks of modern celebrity worship that I have trouble applauding. It also indicates some deep commitment to the kind of politics that Ted Kennedy practiced — massive redistribution and the progressive centralization of power masking interest-group appeasement with fancy words and flowery ideology.

Is it possible, too, that we witness just a touch of media folks’ true affiliations?

The big truth, though, is that Kennedy’s politics are just what you’d expect from someone who lasted so long in politics. His ideas dovetailed with the accumulation of power, and its maintenance. The longer one stays in office, the more one learns how to gather votes for programs that force government’s intrusive hand further into everyday life.

There’s something in unlimited terms and the status of “politician-for-life” that goes hand in hand with a big-government agenda. And it is that agenda, and its tragic consequences (which we are witnessing, now, with increasing ferocity, each twist of history’s knife), that speak so eloquently of the need to restrict such accumulations of power.

How many terms did he serve in the Senate? How many times have you heard how many terms? The answer to the first question is: Nine. That works out to 46 years and 242 days. He didn’t serve as long as Robert Byrd (51 years and counting), but he did squeeze in more uninterrupted time than Strom Thurmond. Great company.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.