Kennedy Criticizes Watt, Calls For 'New Answers'
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass.) yesterday attacked the Reagan administration's environmental policies and called for the resignation of Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt.
Speaking at a public meeting of the Sierra Club in Faneuil Hall, Kennedy denounced Watt as "an embarassment to the nation and an enemy of the environment" in a speech that called upon liberals to oppose the Republican party with "new answers, new beliefs and new arrangments."
"If we are to succeed, it will not be by relying upon the old slogans or familiar attitudes of the past," Kennedy told an enthusiastic audience of about 350 people.
He specifically encouraged the audience to oppose Watt's program of exploiting public lands and preserves for economic development, part of what has been called the "sagebrush rebellion."
Citing environmental issues as examples of the President's "unfair and unwise policies," Kennedy made several references to the Republicans' success in 1980 and urged Democrats to begin preparing for upcoming elections in 1982 and 1984.
The senator's only reference to his own political fortunes was a rueful observation that the last time he spoke in Faneuil Hall he announced his illfated candidacy for the 1980 presidential nomination.
But many of his listeners, including Sierra Club members, seemed more interested in Kennedy the politician than Kennedy the environmentalist.
At least 30 Harvard students attended the meeting and Jess A. Velona '83, president of the Harvard-Radcliffe Democratic Club, acknowledged that the senator "is clearly trying to define where he stands for the future."
Velona and several friends arrived with a large placard declaring, "Dump on Watt, Not on our Public Lands," and after some negotiation with Kennedy aides, they were able to place it directly in front in front of the speaker's podium.
The Democratic Club is collecting signatures for a nation-wide Sierra Club petition asking for Watt's removal. Velona said the Harvard group already has more than 500 names to contribute and would collect at least 1000.
Hilary Kinal '82, founder and president emeritus of the Harvard-Radcliffe Club, also attended, "purely out of sociological-political interest. I want to find out the extent of [Kennedy's] appeal."
A devoted Watt fan--"my personal hero in the administration"--Kinal said he preferred California Gov. Edmund G. Brown's brand of liberalism to Kennedy's.
"Brown enjoys himself; Kennedy doesn't," Kinal said. "Brown runs for president, but he wants to go to Africa with Linda Ronstadt, so he does. He's a political poet for the age."
Others took the event a bit more seriously, though even strong Kennedy supporters were hesitant in offering their candidate for the 1984 presidential election.
Fred Kennedy--no relation--said. "He'll have to come back, because there's really no one else strong enough on the left." But when asked to propose a campaign strategy, the senator's fan conceded that he did not know "quite how one man will turn around the country unless Reagan's policies fail altogether."
Before he considers the presidency, Kennedy will face what some predict will be his toughest reelection fight for the Senate in 1982