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'5' And Counting

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat, is collecting a series of legal bills months after it was disclosed he was "Senate Candidate No. 5" in the arrest documents filed against former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

His campaign paid a lawyer $15,000 in the first quarter of this year, according to documents recently filed with the Federal Election Commission. That comes after a $100,000 payment to the same Chicago lawyer, James Montgomery, in December.

That month, Mr. Jackson outed himself as Candidate 5. According to the arrest documents, an emissary for Candidate 5 promised Mr. Blagojevich that the governor would receive up to $1 million in campaign cash if he appointed Mr. Jackson to the Senate seat vacated by President Obama. More recently, it came out that that figure could have been $5 million.

Mr. Jackson has denied any role in offering campaign cash in exchange for being named to the seat, which is now held by Sen. Roland W. Burris.


Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, will be the 2009 recipient of the Cancer Compassion Award, which is presented annually by the George Washington University Medical Center.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who also is chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, reinvigorated the war on cancer just last month by co-sponsoring with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, the 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act, which seeks to better coordinate policy and science in aggressively fighting cancer.

Mr. Kennedy's award will be presented April 25 at the 6th Annual sixth annual GW Cancer Gala at the Ritz-Carlton Washington. This year's gala is chaired by GWU President Steven Knapp and Sen. Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican.


In his soon-to-be-released book, "The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled," Washington Post news editor Vincent Bzdek likens Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to George Bailey, the selfless fictional character portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in the 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life."

Under the weight of his obligation to his family heritage . . . George stays home to do his duty rather than follow his muse and travel the world," observes Mr. Bzdek. "Ted Kennedy has been the same kind of politician when compared to his larger-than-life brothers: life size."

The author holds up Mr. Kennedy as "the patron saint of the unsung, the guy who stuck with his duty as he perceived it despite the high price he and those around him paid emotionally. As Bobby Kennedy once pointed out, "Ted could have sat at the pool his whole life sipping umbrella drinks."

"Certainly Kennedy has had his drunken, stupid moments, just as George Bailey did," Mr. Bzdek continues. "And he will forever be responsible for the loss of Mary Jo Kopechne's life. But in spite of everything, Kennedy kept showing up. As a result, he has tacked a new message of inspiration onto the Kennedy legacy: A person can transcend his own limitations and live down his mistakes with an unceasing spirit of optimism and determination."

Like in the end of "It's a Wonderful Life," when supporters of the down-and-out George rush in on Christmas Eve with an outpouring of support for the town's best friend, "Washington saw the same kind of outpouring in Kennedy's house -- the Senate -- when his brain tumor was announced in the spring of 2008.

The author recalls Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, hunched over in his wheelchair, openly weeping on the Senate floor; hundreds of phone calls, 2,500 e-mails, and 19 bouquets arrived to the senator's office. King Abdullah II of Jordan sent an orchid, while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, actors Glenn Close and Martin Sheen, rock musician Don Henley, former Vice President Al Gore and former first lady Nancy Reagan sent personal get-well notes.

"In the chamber of the Senate," he writes, 'Work simply stopped. 'All of the oxygen went out of the room,' said Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat."

As Mr. Bzdek concludes: "Greatness doesn't always come wrapped in a pretty package."

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