Ted Kennedy and Mixed Government

I didn’t plan on writing anything today, but sometimes one just finds something worth sharing – especially when one reads Daniel Hannan’s blog.

In all the commotion following the death of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the gravity of which incidentally was a welcome relief after the Michael Jackson hype shortly before, most of the attention focused on Kennedy the man.  Most writings near-deified the man, which is understandable in obituaries; a few uncharitably (if truthfully) decried his shortcomings.  But I just noticed a far more thoughtful piece, by a foreigner no less, which used the situation to speak more broadly about the American federal legislature.

A highlight:

Last month, I spoke to perhaps the most exalted audience I shall ever address: a closed meeting of the 40 Republican Senators. What struck me most about them was their unstuffy but palpable sense of the dignity of their office. There was no feeling, as there would be among British MPs, that some were more equal than others. There were no backbenchers yearning to be frontbenchers. John McCain sat among his peers, not as a de facto GOP leader, but as a man who had been given the incalculable honour of representing Arizona in the supreme council of his nation.

It’s an excellent commentary on the Senate, and its anti-populist role in America’s system of mixed government, and given our recent conversations on the subject is worth reading in its entirety.  It can be found here.

1 Comment

  • September 8, 2009

    Bryan Wandel

    Sorry for the delay here, but after reading all the viscious comments on Hannan’s article, I need to throw up my props somewhere. If anyone reads the article and still doubts the conservative and dignified stature of the American Senate, check out:
    1. Henry Adams’s description of the antebellum Senate he visited as a boy, in The Education of Henry Adams.
    2. Profiles in Courage
    3. The first 100 pages or so of Robert Caro’s 2nd installment of LBJ biography, Master of the Senate – a high history of the upper house.