Limbaugh and the Kennedy 'Memorial' Health Bill

Rush Limbaugh suggested on Friday that Sen. Ted Kennedy, who underwent brain surgery in June and has a long history of working on health care policy, will be dead by the time President Obama's current health reform initiative passes Congress. From Limbaugh's show (link to transcript here), speaking on Obama's push to reform health care: "So he's [Obama has] moved on to health care. This is highly visible, it's news leading, gets a great focus, plus it has the great liberal lion Teddy Kennedy pushing it.  Before it's all over it will be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill."


Hear audio of Limbaugh's comment here.

Kennedy has long been a target of conservative criticism, and his name, at times, has been used as a rallying cry by conservatives who have referenced him as an emblem of liberalism (East Coast liberalism in particular). The tone and gist of Rush's comment, some time ago, wouldn't have sounded out of place, save the word "memorial," which is the crux of this and many other articles Friday night.

But since his health problems began last year (he was diagnosed with brain cancer in May, underwent surgery in June, suffered a seizure in September and another on Inauguration Day at a post-ceremony luncheon), those references have basically ceased. Attitudes toward Kennedy from his conservative colleagues in the Senate, especially, have been congenial and supportive. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), one of the nation's most conservative senators and a member of Kennedy's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, welcomed Kennedy when the Massachusetts senator returned to the Capitol in January to chair a committee hearing, adding, "I can't wait 'til that thundering voice comes at me on the Senate floor."


So partisan rhetoric has largely been absent from references to Kennedy since May. Not so from Rush.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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