Bruce Reed, former top domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton and new CEO of the new Democratic Leadership Council, writes at Slate that the GOP could use a Ted Kennedy of its own--a principled lion who likes to work with the other side to, above all, get things done. It's a question for all levels of the GOP: can the staffers, pundits, activists and regular voters "lionize," as Reed puts it, a legislator who works with Democrats? It's probably unfair to ask this of Republicans, exclusively: President Obama campaigned on coalition-building postpartisanship as a governing strategy, and Democrats are still working to get a handful of Republicans on board with a mutually agreeable health care bill.
But there's an impulse among liberals to say: forget the Republicans--we've got 60 votes. Don't bother to work with the other side--they didn't work with us. And Kennedy was an institution; if the Senate has become more partisan and toxic in recent times as Reed suggests, Kennedy built his bipartisan name before that happened. So Republicans may not be able to elevate a lawmaker known for bipartisanship, but in an age of Democratic supermajority, now that Kennedy is gone, can Democrats?