Should we just change the name now from "Senate seat" to Duke of Massachusetts now?
With Massachusetts having paid its final respects to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the politics of succession begins in earnest this week - candidates will emerge, a race will take shape, and the Kennedy clan will have to reveal whether it wants to keep the seat in the family....
"Joe Kennedy, as emotionally drained as he must be, cannot help but be moved by the outpouring of affection and respect that has come from people all over the country in the last several days,'' said Dan Payne, a longtime Democratic media consultant. "I'm not saying he is going to run, but he wouldn't be human and he wouldn't be a Kennedy if he didn't give serious thought to running for the so-called Kennedy seat.''
I am somehow reminded of this story about George Washington, who turned down power after his army had beaten the British in the Revolutionary War. All of Europe expected him to claim power. Instead:
Give the last word to Washington's great adversary, King George III. The king asked his American painter, Benjamin West, what Washington would do after winning independence. West replied, "They say he will return to his farm."
"If he does that," the incredulous monarch said, "he will be the greatest man in the world."
That is what was considered greatness in that age - the willingness NOT to pursue power, even when by military success or family name such power could easily be had. Unfortunately we celebrate just the opposite today, singing eulogies for a man and a family that do nothing but seek power.