Wow, It Turns Out We do Have A Hereditary Aristocracy in this Country

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.


  1. Bob Smith:

    It will be interesting to see if either the MA legislature or governor will be breaking the law regarding Kennedy's replacement. Current MA law requires something like 145 days between the departure of the incumbent and the special election for their replacement. I would interpret that as implying that the seat must remain vacant for the quiet period, but they're talking about appointing an interim replacement to fill the gap before the election. If election is the specified manner for choosing the replacement, and I am quite certain that current law doesn't permit an interim appointment, how can an appointment be legal?

    I would argue that the MA law stripping its governor of the right to appoint legislators is outright illegal, because the Constitution explicitly vests this power in the governor: "When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies".

  2. DrTorch:

    Good post.

  3. Chris:

    “If he does that,” the incredulous monarch said, “he will be the greatest man in the world.”

    He definitely was a great, great man, despite what all the revisionist "historians" would like you to believe. We need more George Washingtons and less Kennedys, Byrds and Helms.

  4. Tim:


    The second paragraph of the 17th amendment comes into play here:
    "When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct."

    Ted asked the legislature to strip that power from the governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts during Kerry's presidential campaign for fear that Mitt Romney would appoint a Republican.

    Interesting side note that Romney is a scion of another political family.

  5. morganovich:

    which part of "above the law" did you not understand?

    the "above" or the "law"?

  6. silvermine:

    Well, I think the democrats have shown over and over that they would rather be Caesar than Cincinnatus.

    (And I have no idea who the republicans are represented by. I can only assume the ancient roman equivalent was so wishy washy no one remembers him.)

  7. ZZMike:

    Here's what they do. Put a little brass tag with Kennedy's name on it on the armrest of his Senate seat.

    Then get back to business.

    I notice that that lead paragraph is from a Boston newspaper.

  8. Peter:

    Your post might even have a double entendre' in it. They are also considering nominating Michael "The Duke" Dukakis to the senate seat. You can bet his vote will be to let the guantanimo prisoners out on furlows.

  9. Tim:


    The smart ass in me wants to say the "the".....

    But it is clearly constitutional for the legislature to strip the governor of the authority to make temporary appointments. That the Kennedys see the government as their plaything isn't above the law. I don't know what it is exactly; but....

    Of course, if it were me, I'd repeal the whole 17th amendment and go back to the various state governments selecting senators.

  10. Tom:

    The Republicans would be Sulla. Same lust for power, just different backers.

  11. K:

    I don't see a conflict between the US Constitution and the law in Massachusetts. Maybe I miss the point.

    A way for the Massachusetts Democrats to finesse this problem is to send an appointee to Washington with a simple joint resolution.

    The resolution would contain a couple of crap sentences about the great urgency of having representation, yada, yada, yada. Then resolve that appointee X will represent the state until the next regular election. By voice vote of course.

    Then they can argue they didn't change the law. They merely acted in an emergency.

    Harry Reid will dutifully seat any Democrat they send. The Senate judges of the qualifications of its members. Article 1 Section 5. I don't think the courts can intervene.

    And if anyone should manage to make a court case the matter can stall there for years.

  12. Evil Red Scandi:

    Apparently people outside of Massachusetts are befuddled by the inability of the citizens of that state to consider a replacement for Ted Kennedy that's not related to him (the closer, the better).

    It's simple. They're progressives. They don't want to be responsible for their jobs, their housing, their health care, their insurance, what they buy, what they eat, etc.

    Why on Earth would they want to be responsible for picking a Senator?

    What I can't understand is why conservatives and libertarians would have a problem with this. What could be better for us than another eternally scandalized, useless, brain-damaged drunk across the isle? It's all win-win from where I'm sitting.