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Ted Kennedy: Second Thoughts


We opposed Edward M. Kennedy's candidacy for the Senate two years ago. On the day after his landslide victory, the CRIMSON wrote: "With regret, we review the Massachusetts campaign and find no reason to believe Ted Kennedy will outgrow his restrictive opportunism... We would like, of course, to be proven wrong here."

In his first two years in the Senate, Kennedy has indicated that he may prove us wrong.

We believed he would hunt headlines in an effort to become a national political figure immediately, exercising in national politics the opportunism he displayed at the state level. Instead he has been a conscientious freshman Senator. He worked on two important committees, developing specialties within them where he exercised some influence. He chaired a subcommittee which drew up a package of bills designed to help the aged. He worked on the urban mass transportation bill and helped co-ordinate Massachusetts' transit program with the government's. He helped collect support for cloture and the civil rights bill and devoted his only major Senate speech to it, just before a plane crash hospitalized him this summer. His voting record has been a strong one, particularly since his brother was assassinated.

He did not neglect his state in an effort to attract a national following. We think he is not to be condemned for his aggressive efforts to attract industry and government proects, such as the NASA space center, to Massachusetts.

The state Republican party has erased any doubts that Senator Kennedy should be re-elected by nominating as his opponent a genuine nonentity. Howard Whitmore has only several terms as mayor Newton and a conservative philosophy to qualify him for national office. It hardly seems possible, but in 1964, Ted is the superior candidate on grounds of experience.

It appears that the Senator will be re-elected by a margin unprecedented even in a state prone to landslides. With this assurance of support, we hope he will go on to resolve the rest of our doubts about his capabilities.

Both in Massachusetts and in Washington, a creative, popular, progressive legislator will be able to do a great deal in the next six years. We hope Kennedy will take an active interest in improving the political atmosphere of his home state. His strong endorsement of Governor Peabody in this summer's primary indicated that he is willing to work to improve his state party. Certainly there is much that the federal government can do through the pressure of patronage to improve the quality of government in Massachusetts, if it chooses to make the effort. Senator Kennedy could persuade the President that now, when the Republican Party has discredited itself in New England by the nomination of Barry Goldwater, is the time for the Democrats to clean their own house.

Kennedy also has the opportunity to create an outstanding record on national affairs. His seats on the Judiciary Committee and on the Labor and Public Welfare Committee are ideal places in which to frame important legislation. The Labor Committee passes on the education and welfare measures that could help revitalize the entire Eastern seabord. The Judiciary Committee, in precarious balance between liberals and conservatives, may finally be ready to emerge from under the weight of its chairman and put forward some constructive proposals in the field of civil rights.

This is a great deal to ask of one man. Senator Kennedy, however, has attracted a staff infinitely superior to most of those in Washington, and this should be his greatest asset during his next term. It is a standard criticism of Lyndon Johnson that he showed no imagination of his own though he succeeded in putting President Kennedy's program through Congress. Senator Kennedy and his associates will have the opportunity to help develop a new Democratic program during the next four years and perhaps more.

Unless he moves on to higher office Ted Kennedy is likely to be in the Senate an unusually long time. No legislator of his philosophy and of his resources will have as clear an opportunity to make a great record. Approving the foundations he has laid in his first two years and hoping that he will begin to build on them in his next six, the CRIMSON endorses Ted Kennedy for re-election.

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