Ted Kennedy: I didn’t mean to slight Hillary or Bill

Via AP:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Edward Kennedy says his endorsement of Barack Obama for president wasn’t intended as a repudiation of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign or of her husband, the former president.

“I have great respect for President Clinton and respect for Senator Clinton,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show as he made a round of appearances on morning network news programs.

Kennedy said he’ll support the New York senator if she is the eventual Democratic presidential nominee. “It’s enormously important that we elect a Democrat and change the direction of the nation. Should Barack Obama not get the nomination, I’ll support her,” or John Edwards or whoever wins the nomination, Kennedy said on CBS’ “The Early Show.”

He described the Clintons as friends. “I’ve known them a long time. I’ve worked very closely with the Clintons.” But, he added, “We need new energy. We need someone who can bring people together. People are basically saying that they want to new day and a new generation.”

After the rumors started swirling this weekend about Ted Kennedy’s possible endorsement of the O-man, I tried to wrap my brain around why Obama would want the endorsement of a man who makes Bill and Hillary Clinton’s smear politics look like child’s play, a man who is one of the most divisive figures in the Democratic party. These are textbook examples of exactly the types of things Obama has claimed he – and the American people – want to get away from.

After seeing yesterday’s pictures of the endorsement, and thinking more about it, I understood why: the “passing of the torch” symbolism I wrote about yesterday, coupled with the fact that Ted Kennedy is an unabashed liberal whom the hardcore left absolutely loves. Even though Obama (with loving help from the MSM) has tried to transform himself into a moderate who will “unite” both parties, a Kennedy endorsement strongly implies to hints of the liberalism which lurks beneath the facade, and promises concerned lefty fence-sitters not to worry. While Obama is not ashamed to be a liberal, either, in order to get elected, he’ll sugar-coat his liberalism with vague talk of “change” and “unity” while hoping people won’t read the fine print, and/or dig closely into his solidly liberal record.

On top of all this, Hillary Clinton rec’d her own set of Kennedy endorsements (h/t: Memeorandum) yesterday, which got lost in all the fanfare over the senior Senator from MA and his fawning over Obama:

Kennedys for Clinton
She stands for Democrats and for the nation, these family members say.

By Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy
January 29, 2008

This is a wonderful year for Democrats. Our party is blessed with the most impressive array of primary candidates in modern history. All would make superb presidents.

By now you may have read or heard that our cousin, Caroline Kennedy, and our uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, have come out in favor of Sen. Barack Obama. We, however, are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because we believe that she is the strongest candidate for our party and our country.

While talk of unity and compromise are inspiring to a nation wary of divisiveness, America stands at a historic crossroads where real issues divide our political landscapes. Democrats believe that America should not be torturing people, eavesdropping on our citizens or imprisoning them without habeas corpus or other constitutional rights. We should not be an imperial power. We need healthcare for all and a clean, safe environment.

The loftiest poetry will not solve these issues. We need a president willing to engage in a fistfight to safeguard and restore our national virtues.

We have worked with Hillary Clinton for 15 years (and in Kathleen’s case, 25 years) and witnessed the power and depth of her convictions firsthand. We’ve seen her formidable work ethic, courage in the face of adversity and her dignity and clear head in crisis. We’ve also seen her two-fisted willingness to enter the brawl when America’s principles are challenged. Her measured rhetoric, political savvy and pragmatism shield the heart of our nation’s most determined and most democratic warrior.

She has been an uncompromising and loyal ally for each of us in our battles to protect the environment and to promote human rights around the world and juvenile justice in America. Hillary is a problem-solver, listening to people and then achieving solutions by changing attitudes.

The article goes on to remind us of the ‘liberal creds’ of the authors:

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental advocate and Kerry Kennedy is a human rights activist.

While Hillary was grateful for these Kennedy endorsements, I’m also reasonably sure she’s still steaming over the loss of the granddaddy of modern day liberalism’s failure to see things her (and her hubby’s) way. She and Bubba aren’t ready to let go of the reins just yet.

How will all this play out? I think Super Tuesday will be a big indicator of just how big Ted Kennedy’s influence is – or isn’t, especially in solidly blue states like CA, where Hillary has been ahead of Obama for months.

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