The reality is that as smart – and committed – as the Democratic contenders for U.S. Senate are, no flesh-and-blood human being can duplicate the four decades of experience the late Sen. Ted Kennedy brought to the job.
And while this newspaper often clashed with the senior senator on issues, what we admired most about him was his steadfastness to the causes in which he believed and his unparalleled devotion to this state, its people and the institutions which make it so special.
Those should be benchmarks by which voters choose his successor. And by that standard it’s U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano who stands out as the best qualified of the Democratic candidates to fill that seat at a critical juncture in this nation’s history.
As Capuano is fond of pointing out himself, he is ready to do the job, because he has done the job. These aren’t theoretical issues to Capuano. He has already voted on the health care bill in the House. He has made clear his opposition to increasing military troop strength in Afghanistan, even if it means opposing a president of his own party.
“We have accomplished our mission in Afghanistan,” he said during a debate yesterday co-sponsored by the Boston Herald and Suffolk University. The mission was to rid Afghanistan of al-Qaeda, he added, and not to “protect a corrupt regime.”
And in 2002 he was one of only 19 House members voting to reinstitute a pay-as-you-go system aimed at cutting deficit spending, something he insisted, “was not a new issue to me.”
As congressman from the 8th District Capuano has among his “constituents” 34 colleges and universities and the lion’s share of the state’s health care facilities. Not surprisingly the 8th District gets more National Institutes of Health grants than just about any other district in the nation. And while Capuano has not tended to their needs single-handedly (Kennedy and Sen. John Kerry were always leaders on such things), he can claim some of the credit.
Capuano has also demonstrated throughout his decade of service in the House that he – and his staff – can deal with the nitty-gritty of constituent services the way Kennedy and his office were so good at.
But what we like best about Capuano is what others find so off-putting – his fire, his passion, his take-no-prisoners way of dealing with issues. It’s, well, Kennedyesque.
The Herald is pleased to endorse Michael Capuano for the Democratic Senate nomination.