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Why a Dead Kennedy is Worth More Than A Living Schwarzenegger

Like many Americans, I mourn the passing of Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy. Like many Americans, I celebrate his life, mostly because I knew -- I ALWAYS knew -- what he stood for – working people, children, education, the disabled – and he never wavered in his commitment to these people and causes, even if he couldn’t get everything he wanted in the legislation he sponsored on their behalf. He deserves to be remembered as the “Lion of the Senate.” My hope is that he is welcomed into heaven by his family, that they are all young and healthy again, playing touch football and just being the Kennedys. I hope his brothers John and Robert welcome him with open arms, saying, “Well done, Ted. You carried on for us. Well done.”

Unlike Ted Kennedy or the Kennedys in general, I can’t even begin to tell you what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stands for, because it appears to change depending on the political winds. Despite his body-building moniker, “The Austrian Oak,” Governor Schwarzenegger, unlike Senator Kennedy, doesn’t appear to be very oak-like when faced with the winds of opposition, perhaps because, unlike an oak, he isn’t rooted in any particular belief system or values. He professes a love of California, but what exactly does that mean? Senator Kennedy loved Massachusetts, but he appeared to love his causes and his country as much. What cause does Governor Schwarzenegger love other than the limelight and being married to a Kennedy? Memo to the Governor: A sense of purpose does not occur by osmosis or marriage.

Does Governor Schwarzenegger wake up each morning knowing what he’s fighting for? Does he have a vision for California that exceeds his next political ambition or his term in office? Does he know what he wants to be remembered as fighting for? Is there any particular group – the working class, educators, children, the disabled, any group at all? – that can say, “Governor Schwarzenegger stands for us, and we can count on him to do so no matter what?”

Somehow, I don’t think so.

Whom, exactly, does Governor Schwarzenegger serve?

I never had to ask that question with Senator Kennedy. Because his agenda was clearly defined, it is more likely that others will come behind him and carry the torch, just as he did for his late brothers, to honor him, just as he honored his brothers.

That is why a dead Kennedy is worth more than a living Schwarzenegger.

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