Thursday, September 10, 2009

All Politics is Personal

The death of Ted Kennedy filled television, I think even Fox News did a eulogy. Most of it was the same, no matter what channel you happened to have on the screen. The recent publication of his memoir, True Compass, only brings a lot of it back again.

Out of it all, there were only two comments that stuck with me. One came from John Kerry and the other from Joe Biden. Kerry continued to return to his paraphrase of Tip O'Neill's dictum that "All Politics is Local." Kerry said that he learned from Kennedy that "All politics is personal."

Biden gave a great example of what that really meant. Talking to GMA on the morning after Kennedy's death, Biden recounted this story.
On the day Barack Obama and Joe Biden were inaugurated as president and vice president, Sen. Ted Kennedy had a seizure that nearly took his life.

The next day Biden received a call from Kennedy, who joked about the seizure and then asked in a very serious tone how Biden's granddaughter was doing.

"What do you mean, Teddy?" Biden said.

"I'm afraid I frightened her. Is she OK?" he said.
Biden's granddaughter, Naomi, then 15 years old, had been sitting at Kennedy's table during the inauguration luncheon where he had the seizure. That is the essence of personal politics. Really caring about the people that you deal with. I don't see that often enough in the Green Party, especially in California. What I do see in personal attacks, innuendo, hurt feelings, retribution, grudges that have gone on far too long. None of these are Green and, as personal politics, none of them are effective. Maybe that is the way things are in other parties. I think all of the conflagration that surrounded Howard Dean and the Dems. Greens need to be better than that to be successful.

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