updated 8/27/2009 11:36:37 AM ET 2009-08-27T15:36:37

Guests: Chris Matthews, David Gregory, Tom Brokaw, Bill Bradley, Michael Beschloss, Arianna Huffington, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Jonathan Alter

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  A great American, Ted Kennedy.  The lion is gone but the fight lives on.

This is THE ED SHOW remembering Senator Ted Kennedy.

Tonight, I‘m going to take the liberty to speak for millions of liberals across America.

It‘s been a sad day in America.  We lost our man.

Senator Ted Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer overnight at the age of 77.  Every time he was on my radio show I referred to him as “The Gladiator.”  He loved that.

He was the gladiator for the people.  A fighter, a believer.  He fought for labor, for workers‘ rights, civil rights, human rights, and social justice.

Kennedy was the gold standard when it came to fighting for the working folk of America, and he has left a huge footprint on this country.  And he was a champion of the cause, an unselfish man who gave so much to the United States of America.  But I will remember him as a fighter. 

Now, there‘s a lot of talk today about his ability to cross the aisle, his bipartisanship, his work, his friendships.  But he never compromised his principles.  He fought for them passionately. 

If Ted Kennedy was on your side, he would be in the trenches with you in the 11th hour.  You could count on Ted Kennedy. 


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  We still cannot get a $2.15 over two years.  Over two years. 

What is the price, we ask the other side?  What is the price that you want from these working men and women?  What cost? 

How much more do we have to give to the private sector and to business?  How many billion dollars more are you asking, are you requiring? 

When does the greed stop, we ask the other side?  What is it about working men and women that you find so offensive that you won‘t permit even a vote, denying the Senate of the United States the opportunity to express ourselves? 

We don‘t want to hear any more from that side for the rest of this century about permitting and not permitting votes in here, when you‘re denying the most simple concept, an increase in the minimum wage.  We don‘t want to hear any more about that.  This is filibuster by delay and amendments. 

I‘ve been around here long enough to know it when I see it and smell it.  And that‘s what it looks like.  That‘s what it is.  Make no mistake about it. 


SCHULTZ:  That‘s how I, and I think millions of Americans, will remember the great man from Massachusetts. 

We‘re devoting the entire hour tonight to the Kennedy legacy, including the battle we are facing right now for health care reform in this country.  The cause of his life, is what he called it.

David Gregory, Arianna Huffington, Bill Bradley and many more will be joining me tonight in the next hour.  And I‘ll have some more to say about my friendship and relationship with Senator Kennedy, and how I knew him, and how he fought for progressive voices in this country. 

Tonight we go to Senator Bradley. 

Great to have you with us tonight, sir. 

BILL BRADLEY (D), FMR. U.S. SENATOR:  Good to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  He was a very courageous man, and through his career cast a lot of votes that were unpopular at the time.  One of them was the war vote.  He was one of 23 senators that said no to the war in Iraq. 

Did it always just kind of work out that way?  Did he like being the dissenting voice?  Did he see that that was his role? 

BRADLEY:  No.  I think that he was that rare politician that didn‘t see principle and pragmatism as a conflict.  And he knew that he wanted to be true to himself.  And therefore, when he was out on the floor making a speech like you just heard, that was him being true to himself. 

SCHULTZ:  He was a fighter, wasn‘t he?  I spoke with a number of labor leaders today, and they said he was the best friend labor ever had in this country. 

What about that? 

BRADLEY:  Well, so often in politics, you have a record, and then on occasion you diverge on that record for any number of reasons.  But he was someone you could count on if you were organized labor, or if you were minorities, or if you were a working person. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Bradley, tell us, what was he like behind closed doors when it was that 11th hour and there were millions of Americans who were counting on Ted Kennedy to carry the torch?  What was that innate quality that he possessed that got him what he wanted when so many around him were opposing him? 

BRADLEY:  I think it was a ferocious conviction to principle and to how he saw the world, and what he thought the world should be, and how he could make it a better place.  And, of course, there was this other part of him. 

You would hear him give a speech like that on the floor, and you would like over at the Republicans and some of them would be shaking their heads, or whatever.  Two minutes later, he would be over there slapping their back, because he knew at the end of the day, he was a principled leader, but he was also a legislator, and he had to get a compromise in order to move our collective humanity one or two inches forward. 

SCHULTZ:  He seemed to be a person of the people who didn‘t do anything he didn‘t believe in.  I mean, he just wasn‘t going to do it to be doing it as a senator.  He did it because he believed in it. 

BRADLEY:  Yes.  I can‘t remember one vote where he compromised his principles.  I also think one of his most admirable qualities was I don‘t think he held a grudge.  I don‘t think he held a grudge against anybody. 

Therefore, you‘d go out in a speech like that you heard, and there would be conflict and there‘d really be—the next day is a new day and you‘d start over.  It‘s because in the Senate, coalitions are built every day, and new kinds of coalitions, and he was going to go where he could get the votes. 

SCHULTZ:  Interesting you say that, because today, Vice President Joe Biden said one thing that Ted Kennedy was not, and that was petty.  He was never small.  He always saw the big picture, and people around him, he lifted them. 

Is that accurate? 

BRADLEY:  I think that‘s very true.  It‘s not only because of his principled position, but it was also because of his personality.  I think he loved life. 

SCHULTZ:  He did love life.  He occupied the room, didn‘t he?  I mean, when he came in, he owned the room. 

And the question now is—that‘s such a tremendous void for the Democrats—who do you see picking up that torch? 

BRADLEY:  Well, you know, it‘s not only a matter of your liberal orthodoxy, or your principles, but it‘s also a function of longevity.  You know, ,in the first term or two, he didn‘t have nearly the impact he had after his third or fourth or fifth term.  And I think that it takes time for good wine to mature.  It takes time for power in the Senate to mature. 

So, I don‘t see anyone right now that has the combination of that principle and longevity.

SCHULTZ:  Bill Bradley, thanks so much for coming in tonight.

BRADLEY:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Appreciate you being here. 

And we should mention, he hosts “American Voices,” a weekly show on Sirius and XM Radio. 

Just moments ago, a man who has known Senator Kennedy for a long time from Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry, spoke in Hyannis Port.  Here‘s what he said about Senator Kennedy. 


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  That‘s what we‘re going to do in the next few days, is celebrate his life.  It‘s a remarkable life, an extraordinary journey of an entire family.  But obviously, of Teddy personally.

Look, a lot of people don‘t realize it, but in the last months, he got a lot done.  He did an amazing amount in terms of equal pay, or higher education, or mental health parity, the nominations that went through his hearings, the strategy that was laid out for the health care bill that did pass his committee.  All of these things weren‘t accidental.  They were Ted Kennedy‘s strategy, his design, his purposeful effort to continue to serve. 

And from the moment he got sick, he was not worried about himself.  He was worried about, how do I continue to do this job and represent the people of Massachusetts? 


SCHULTZ:  That was Senator John Kerry just moments ago. 

Joining me now from Hyannis Port NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss. 

Michael, we knew this was going to happen, we knew Ted Kennedy was going to leave us.  But the impact when it happens has been so profound on so many people.

How will he be remembered six months, a year, five years from now? 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Well, you know, you‘re right, Ed.  You know, you can always imagine what something like this will be like, but you never know what it will be until you have the experience. 

And I think a couple of things.

You know, in terms of Washington, you know, I live there.  It‘s about as toxic an atmosphere as there has ever been in the last 200 years. 

I hope that one thing that particularly members of Congress do is look back at Kennedy and say, this is someone from the previous generation.  He could duke it out with people on the other side, conservative Republicans, all day long.  It didn‘t mean that anyone had to change their views, but at the end of the day, there was some amity and they could have a drink together. 

That‘s what they lost in the newer generation.  I think it‘s something that would be a good thing if the Senate and House brought back. 

SCHULTZ:  What moment in his career separated him from his brothers?  His brothers were so famous, and then Ted Kennedy was there in the family, a hard worker.  And his work ethic, he was just absolutely a tireless worker.  He worked countless hours on issues.  In fact, I think he invented multitasking. 

But what moment in his career separated him? 

BESCHLOSS:  Well, two things. 

One is that Jack and Bobby Kennedy never really took the Senate seriously.  JFK once said when he was president, “I felt like a worm when I was in the Senate.”  He didn‘t feel that that was something you really should aim for in political life.  And Bobby Kennedy, from the moment he came in 1965, was essentially running for president either in 1968 or ‘72. 

Ted Kennedy, after he lost in 1980 to Jimmy Carter, said, I‘m going to make my life in the Senate.  But the more important thing, Ed, is that John Kennedy was basically a moderate conservative when he came to the House in ‘47. 

Robert Kennedy, as you know, had worked for Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.  Ted Kennedy, from the beginning, was a classic Democratic liberal.  He once said in 1979, “I define liberalism in this country,” and he really did for a half-century. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, he did. 

The work ethic—do you think he worked so hard because the country had taken three of his brothers before him? 

BESCHLOSS:  I think that‘s part of it, but also, I think that was just him.  You know, I would talk to him from time to time, and I would sometimes ask him about his brothers, or about foreign policy of a few decades earlier.  He‘d reply politely, but he wasn‘t really engaged.

But if you asked him, for instance, how did the Voting Rights Act get through Congress in 1965?  He‘d have total recall.  He could tell you every twist and turn, everything that had been done to get, for instance, moderate Republicans off the fence.  That‘s what really engaged him, both because he wanted to change American life, but also because he loved the gamesmanship.

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Michael Beschloss.  Appreciate your time tonight on THE ED SHOW.

BESCHLOSS:  A pleasure, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Joining me now is “HARDBALL” host Chris Matthews, who has done yeoman‘s work today and has a great documentary coming up tonight on MSNBC, “The Kennedy Brothers.”


SCHULTZ:  This is a big day in history.  I mean, this is a day where we look back and we reflect.  This country was lucky to have Ted Kennedy.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think all the brothers were important.  And I think they all fit together. 

And I agree with everything Michael said about his liberalism.  I think he was a liberal, and perhaps we‘ll get back to that word again.  I think it means something. 

It means belief in government and what it can do.  It believes that the market isn‘t going to solve all our problems, that the public has to make certain decisions about the kind of society it wants to be, and has to act on them.  They can‘t just wait for the golden hand or the magic hand or the hidden hand of the marketplace to solve all our problems.

I think Ted Kennedy was a liberal. 

SCHULTZ:  Why is it that today‘s culture of the Senate doesn‘t seem to have where Ted Kennedy came from, that ability to get after it and then go shake your hand and pat you on the back?  I mean, it was a rare quality. 

MATTHEWS:  Too many lunches where the party votes together.  Not enough individual leadership by chairman of the committees.  Ted Kennedy‘s classic. 

Now, he had a relationship with Orrin Hatch.  The future is going to be made by somebody who‘s going to cut a deal.  Somebody is going to find a way to cut this diamond on health care and get it done over the next several years.  It‘s probably not going to happen all at once. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Dorgan told me today, one thing about Ted, he knew the rules.  There‘s a lot of rules in the Senate.


SCHULTZ:  He knew the Senate inside out. 

How much did that help him? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, in his debate with Mitt Romney, which I was very proud of—I loved that debate, when Romney really gave him a close call a couple of years ago.  And he didn‘t know something about a matter of legislation, and Ted called him on it. 

He said, you know, knowing the details is what being a legislature is all about.  You have to know the details.  And I think his ability to get in there—he could sit here with you—and you know the issue of health care—and he would figure out a way to work you on that issue.

He would find a way to move you, Ed Schultz.  He was very smart about the issues, and he would figure you out.  He would figure out what you cared about in the bill, and then move you in a way that got you where he wanted you. 

And I‘m not sure everything is doable.  Health care is a tough one. 

SCHULTZ:  It is a tough one. 

Let‘s talk about the war quickly, because he was one of 23 votes against the war.  And he said on...

MATTHEWS:  Well, he was right on that one, wasn‘t he? 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s right.  But it was a courageous vote, and he also said it was cooked up in Texas on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert.

I mean, he always seemed to lead the charge. 

MATTHEWS:  He could see that what we were doing in Iraq is what we had done before, the post-colonial notion that you could go in to third-world countries and kick ass, you could rule other people because you decide to and you have more guns than they do.  Churchill once said there‘s a big decision between initial success and ultimate success.  And Ted Kennedy said that‘s bad policy. 

Hillary didn‘t see that.  John Kerry didn‘t see that.  Joe Biden didn‘t see that.  Chris Dodd—look at all the people who voted for that war.  Ted Kennedy didn‘t vote for that war. 

SCHULTZ:  Your documentary tonight, tell us about it. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s going to stun a lot of people, because even people my age or your age are thinking, I think I remember.  But the power of this brotherhood, these four guys, starting with Joseph Kennedy, Jr., they all wanted to be president at one point, and yet they passed the torch one to another. 

There was an evolution in ideology.  They did get more liberal. 

Teddy‘s closer to you than Jack was.  Teddy is a liberal.  He died a liberal. 

Jack was evolving as sort of a moderate conservative, as Beschloss pointed out.  And Bobby was somewhere in the middle. 

But I‘ll tell you what comes across in this is they‘re human beings.  And the way they work politics you‘re going to love—how they won elections using public relations, using the media, using television, using polling, using movies. 

They used to run newsreels of Jack Kennedy back in ‘46, back in the old Cambridge race.  Imagine having a father in Hollywood—Son, the newsreels will be at the Cambridge theater—the Varsity Theatre this weekend.  So, you go to the theater and people are watching newsreels of you running for Congress, meanwhile blacking out the opponent from the race. 

Joe Kennedy had that power.  He blacked Mike Neville‘s campaign so only his son‘s campaign got press attention.  Power politics. 

SCHULTZ:  Political gem.

Chris Matthews, great to have you here.

MATTHEWS:  When you watch tonight, you‘re going to love it.  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  The “HARDBALL” documentary “The Kennedy Brothers” will premier tonight, 9:00 Eastern Time, right here on MSNBC. 

Coming up, more on the life and the legacy of Ted Kennedy.  David Gregory of NBC‘s “Meet the Press” joins us next, right here on THE ED SHOW.



JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:    He was never defeatist.  He never was petty.  Never was petty.  He was never small. 

And in the process of his doing, he made everybody he worked with bigger, both his adversaries, as well as...


SCHULTZ:  That was Vice President Joe Biden today making what I think is a very profound point. 

Ted Kennedy was such a force of passion and principle, that he made every cause and every person in the debate bigger. 

Joining me now is David Gregory, moderator of NBC‘s “Meet the Press.”

David, great to have you on tonight.  Thanks for your time. 


SCHULTZ:  Before you were doing “Meet the Press,” you were a White House correspondent.  How did the White House view Ted Kennedy?  Did they view him as the lion?  Did they view him as the guy that they just eventually had to deal with in the Senate? 

GREGORY:  Absolutely.  And it was really interesting, covering the Bush presidency, because Bush‘s signature issue was education.  That‘s what he came into the White House pursuing. 

And when he convened a group of experts on it down in Austin, he excluded Senator Kennedy.  Realizing that that was not a good move when he got into office, he quickly courted Senator Kennedy, invited the senator and some other Kennedys to the premier of a film about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and made it very clear that he was going to use the political schools that he, Bush, had and try to match those up against what Kennedy had. 

He knew that he needed Kennedy as a vital voice, as a potent ally to get this through.  They even campaigned together for education reform up in Boston. 

I remember covering that trip thinking, I don‘t think we‘re going to see George Bush up in Boston a lot.  That‘s not really Bush country.  But they did it there because it was a relationship that they knew that they needed to forge to get it done. 

And from Kennedy‘s point of view, look, he came to bitterly oppose George W. Bush on the war in Iraq and other matters, but this was an area where he could do business.  And that‘s what he was about, which is, how does he get his legislation moved forward, his agenda moved forward?  He does it by working with the other side, and he really found a way to do that over the years. 

SCHULTZ:  David, to put his longevity in perspective, it was March, 1962.  That was the first appearance of Ted Kennedy on your show, “Meet the Press.”  And, of course, Barack Obama was less than a year old at the time. 

Tell our audience tonight, David, from a media perspective, what kind of interview was Ted Kennedy?  I always thought he was a great interview because he always gave you something.  I mean, you could always get something out of Ted Kennedy. 

GREGORY:  Well, I mean, it‘s interesting.  The one example where that was not the case was when he was interviewed by Roger Mudd, of course, famously, infamously for him, and asked, “Why do you want to be president?”  And he really couldn‘t answer very effectively. 

But he was effective on “Meet the Press,” and the history is really something to marvel at.  And you can go on our Web site, mtp.msnbc.com, to go through some of that, and we‘ll have more on the program on Sunday. 

You know, before his first appearance, he drops by the White House and sees his brother, President Kennedy, and says, well, you know, “I‘m going to be on ‘Meet the Press‘ tomorrow.”  And the president said, “Have a seat.”

And Ted Sorensen was there and a few other aides.  And they started peppering him on the kinds of questions they knew would come up on “Meet the Press,” and Ted was not ready and he had to go back and study. 

So, he came to really obviously respect “Meet the Press,” as his brother did.  President Kennedy called it the 51st state.  So, it was something that was deeply engrained into the Kennedys.  And if you read his biographies, you see many references to his appearances on “Meet the Press,” understanding the importance of the platform. 

SCHULTZ:  And finally, David, inside the beltway, when everybody comes back, Ted Kennedy being gone, his voice not being there, how do you think this is going to affect the health care debate in this country?  Hopefully, we‘ll be in the home stretch in September. 

What affect will this have? 

GREGORY:  Well, I think, Ed you have to recognize that the effect has already been felt, and that is that he‘s been on the sidelines, he‘s been out of the debate.  And it‘s hurt. 

He has not been in there forging away for this reform to pass, ultimately.  So, he has been sidelined. 

I think the White House at this point hopes that there could be something of an emotional lift.  One adviser said to me perhaps some of the frenzy will die down out of respect for Ted Kennedy‘s passion for this particular issue.  But others say, look, this is a coldhearted town and it‘s going to go back to the business of fighting over health care again.  And unfortunately, Senator Kennedy was not able to be the kind of factor that he wanted to be in this fight. 

SCHULTZ:  David Gregory, we‘ll see you Sunday on “Meet the Press.” 

Thanks so much.

GREGORY:  Thanks, Ed.  You bet.

SCHULTZ:  He was never afraid to stand firm on the line to remind Democrats of what the party stood for and what it meant to be liberal. 

Up next, The Huffington Post‘s Arianna Huffington as THE ED SHOW remembers Senator Ted Kennedy. 


SCHULTZ:  Well, you‘d never know it.  Ted Kennedy called universal health care the cause of his life.  And there is no question in my mind that if we had Kennedy‘s voice in the current health care debate today, the reformers would be winning this fight. 

Joining me now is Arianna Huffington of “The Huffington Post.”

Arianna, great to have you on tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  The passing of Ted Kennedy, could this be a rallying cry for progressives to carry this fight through and to see real reform and health care in this country?  Because, of course, I think everybody on the left knows that this was his passion, this was his cause. 

HUFFINGTON:  Yes, Ed, except that I would not call this as being on the left only, because as I‘m listening to Kennedy‘s speeches as MSNBC and other outlets are repeating them, we‘re reminded that this is really America.  This is not the base.  This is not the left.  This is not just progressives. 

The causes that he fought for, the causes that he made his own, including health care, including fighting against the war in Iraq, including fighting against apartheid in South Africa, including the civil rights legislation, all that really is what America is about.  And so, whenever we just say this is the left, and Ted Kennedy represents the left, we are marginalizing it.  And what we need to do now more than ever is to come together to address these huge problems we are facing with health care, with foreclosures, with job losses, to really put the American people at the center of the debate again the way he did again and again. 

SCHULTZ:  But do you think this will be a critical point where it will rally and will motivate a lot of Americans to see this fight through? 

HUFFINGTON:  Absolutely, I really do.  I also think that the White House and many in the Senate may actually learn that, ask Ted Kennedy said in 1980, warning the Democratic party that if they abandon their core values, they are going to lose.  Well, once again here, Democrats are in danger of abandoning their core values, watering down what they stand for, and losing.  So that‘s really a great teachable moment for the Democratic party. 

SCHULTZ:  Arianna, you have written a very aggressive piece on your blog, on the “Huffington Post,” about what President Obama needs to do.  With Ted Kennedy gone and out of the debate, tell us what you think has to happen right now from the presidential standpoint. 

HUFFINGTON:  Well, in a sense, Ed, Senator Kennedy passed the torch, the JFK torch, the Kennedy torch, on to Obama during the primaries.  So now Obama needs to rise to that occasion and actually speak passionately about health care as a moral imperative, the way Ted Kennedy has been speaking about it for 40 years. 

This is not just about cost cutting, important as cost cutting is.  This is really about the next step in America‘s journey towards becoming a more perfect union. 

SCHULTZ:  And do you think it was Ted Kennedy who put Barack Obama over the top?  His endorsement, was it that big? 

HUFFINGTON:  I think it was huge, because Ted Kennedy really went against the Democratic establishment.  He broke ranks, and he was willing to say Obama is the future, and that‘s what the country needs.  And at that particular moment in the campaign meant a lot.  And it‘s as though he knew he had to do that for the sake of where the country was going. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  Arianna Huffington, “Huffington Post,” thank you so much for joining us on THE ED SHOW tonight. 

HUFFINGTON:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Stay with us.  Senator Jay Rockefeller said today that the case of justice has lost its bravest and boldest champion.  He will join me to reflect on the life of Ted Kennedy in just a moment. 

But first, Senator Chris Dodd, who took over for Ted Kennedy on the Senate Health Committee, had emotional words for his best friend today. 


SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT:  The country lost a great advocate.  There are millions of people who counted on this guy every day to stand up for them.  And for decades to come, history will talk about his legislative accomplishments, and the difference he made to public policy. 

For me, I lost my best friend in the Senate, just a great friend. 




E. KENNEDY:  This is the cause of my life: new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American, north, south, east, west, young, old, will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right, and not a privilege. 

We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama.  Yes, we can.  And finally, yes, we will. 


SCHULTZ:  Yes, we will.  Is that where the Senate is tonight?  We have lost our guy, Ted Kennedy, who was a champion on the health care issue for decades.  He was a fighter and he will be missed as the fight goes on. 

Joining me now by phone tonight is West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller.  Senator, great to have you with us tonight on this busy evening. 

Senator, can you tell us how you feel?  I know you worked closely with Senator Kennedy.  How does this news hit you tonight? 

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA:  It‘s been a bad night and a hard day.  I first met Ted Kennedy right after he had been in an airplane crash and broken his back in 12 places up in Hyannisport.  The family invited me up there, and I got to know him then. 

And then I got to know him on health care issues through working with things that people have forgotten about now, like the Pepper Commission, and then, of course, the whole Clinton effort.  He was fighting hard, so was I. 

And he was fighting hard on this present health care effort virtually until he died.  His imprint is everywhere. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Rockefeller, will your colleagues in the Senate be more determined than ever?  Will this be a major motivating factor to see this health care reform through, knowing that your brother in the Senate, Senator Ted Kennedy, wanted it so bad? 

ROCKEFELLER:  I hope it will.  And the reason is I think there‘s a real chance that we understand maybe better now what we are not, because we understand what he was, and that is he never quit.  He would never give up.  He was a fighter, but everybody was a good person.  He could cross the aisles, as everybody has been saying for the last 18 hours. 

And every day was new.  There was always promise in America.  There was always promise that good would come.  That was always his assumption.  He brought it to health care.  He brought it to every single thing he did. 

It was never what‘s wrong with America.  It‘s what can we do to make America better.  That‘s a tremendous difference in attitude.  It‘s what made him the happy fighter, who loved life, like Bill Bradley said.  He just loved life.  He loved the fight.  And he cared passionately about people.  That‘s what motivated him totally. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you going to get something out of the Finance Committee that‘s going to fit reform?  You‘re on the Finance Committee.  This is now the centerpiece of a lot of the conversation that‘s going on right now.

ROCKEFELLER:  And some of the most unhappy conversation.  It‘s the conversation which I think makes a lot of people feel badly about the Senate, because of this sort of group of six which is trying to decide what‘s going to happen. 

A lot of it comes down to the public option, Ed, which you and I have talked about.  I still believe in that so strongly.  I‘ve never understand why the press doesn‘t push more fully into what the alternative is, which is something called a co-op.  The only stuff I‘ve read on that, from Paul Krugman and others, is pretty devastating. 

But yes, I think he motivates all of us, because all of a sudden he‘s gone and there was never the thought that he would be gone.  He would always be coming back.  Now he‘s gone.  Now we realize we have to rise up.  I pray we realize we have to rise up to do what he would have wanted. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Rockefeller, I appreciate your time on THE ED SHOW.

Thank you so much.  And keep up the fight, my friend. 

ROCKEFELLER:  Yes, sir. 

SCHULTZ:  Stay with us.  Ted Kennedy was a visionary when it came to health care.  He was passionate about reform all the way back in the ‘60s and the ‘70s.  We‘ll talk about how we can keep up the fight in just a minute right here on THE ED SHOW, on MSNBC.   


E. KENNEDY:  Talking about the cost of this program, 60 billion dollars over five years.  That‘s what we‘re spending in five months in Iraq.  Five months in Iraq.  What would the American people rather have?  Coverage for their children or a continued conflict in Iraq, where we‘re losing the blood of our young men and women? 

This is the issue.  Let‘s not complicate it. 




OBAMA:  He became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.  His extraordinary life on this Earth has come to an end.  The extraordinary good that he did lives on. 


SCHULTZ:  That was President Obama at Martha‘s Vineyard today.  The president will speak Friday at Ted Kennedy‘s funeral, which will be held in Boston. 

Let me bring in now Jonathan Alter, senior editor for “Newsweek” and MSNBC analyst, and John Harwood with us tonight, CNBC chief Washington correspondent, and a political writer for the “New York Times.” 

Jonathan, I know that you‘ve interviewed Ted Kennedy many times.  What were the heavy lifts over the last 47 years that Ted Kennedy would identify with?  What did he consider the big accomplishments? 

JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”:  He did so much on health and education.  But when I asked him a few years ago, what were the biggest accomplishments, not for him, but for the Senate in all the time he was there, he pointed to the Civil Rites Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, where he introduced an amendment that eliminated the Poll Tax.  That was what they used to discriminate against blacks in the south.  Ted Kennedy got that abolished, an accomplishment at the beginning of his career. 

And the third one was the same year, the Immigration Act of 1965.  Ted Kennedy changed the face of this country.  He was the floor manager for that bill.  He got that through.  Before that, if you were not European, you did not get in as an immigrant.  Think how much has changed since then.  So he pointed to those things.

Then there were a whole variety of health care bills that he was responsible for.  He compromised intensely on that.  We talked a lot about how politics is the art of the possible.  People have to keep this in mind as we move into this health care debate. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  John Harwood, I spoke to a number of union leaders today, John Sweeney, Leo Gerard, Mr. McEntee as well, over at AFSME.  Their voices were cracking.  Labor lost their best friend in the last 24 hours.  One thing about Ted Kennedy, if he was on your side, he was on your side.  How does labor replace that?  How do the working folks of America replace that kind of support if they can? 

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC ANCHOR:  It‘s going to be difficult because Ted Kennedy continued to work for causes championed by labor long after many Democrats were turning towards the political center.  Think of all the work he did, for example, on raising the minimum wage.  There was a time when some Democrats thought, to be modern and competitive with Republican, they needed to move past issues like the minimum wage and let the market work its magic. 

I think back on health care, where, you know—Jonathan was just talking about voting rights and civil rights, which were huge accomplishments.  Ted Kennedy voted for Medicare in the 1960s.  He kept pushing for universal coverage. didn‘t get it.  But he worked with Orrin Hatch on the Children‘s Health Insurance Program.  He worked with Nancy Bassebaum, both Republicans, on making health care more affordable for people who lost their jobs. 

But I‘ve got to say, Ed, that I think Democrats and Barack Obama are closer to achieving the goal that you shared with Ted Kennedy than maybe you do and many other people do, because I think they‘ve got the votes in the House.  I think they‘re likely to have the votes in the Senate.  And the outlook is not, in my opinion, as pessimistic as many people are painting it right now. 

SCHULTZ:  John Harwood, Jonathan Alter, thanks for joining us tonight. 

Thanks for your insight on all of this. 

Stay with us.  We‘ll have more on Ted Kennedy‘s life and legacy with NBC‘s Tom Brokaw right after this.   


E. KENNEDY:  For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on; the cause endures; the hope still lives; and the dream shall never die. 



E. KENNEDY:  This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans.  So with Barack Obama, and for you, and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. 

The work begins anew.  The hope rises again.  And the dream lives on. 


SCHULTZ:  The legacy of Ted Kennedy may extend all the way to the White House.  He lost his campaign for president in 1980.  Twenty eight years later, he passed the torch to Barack Obama.  He endorsed then candidate Obama at a critical time in the primary campaign.  He was the clear progressive choice. 

You get the sense Kennedy felt President Obama would carry on his work.  Joining me now is NBC‘s Tom Brokaw.  Mr. Brokaw, great to have you on tonight. 

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS:  My pleasure. 

SCHULTZ:  Your thoughts when you heard the passing of Ted Kennedy.  This man has such a major impact on what this country has been through and had his hands on so many things legislatively.  Can you put it in perspective for us tonight? 

BROKAW:  Well, in my case, obviously, I have lived my entire adult life with Ted Kennedy.  I was a young man first starting in this business when his brother, John F. Kennedy, was elected president.  And I thought I identified most of all with young Edward Kennedy.  He was closer to my age, obviously. 

Over the years, I got to know him through good times and bad.  I think the back of his life was a life of redemption, politically and personally.  So he‘s able to go out with the kind of tribute he‘s receiving here today. 

What ought not to be lost was his raucous sense of good humor.  Even through the darkest times, he had this ability to laugh at himself and to walk into a room and make everyone feel good about themselves, even his political opponents, before too long. 

SCHULTZ:  Tom, you said—used an interesting word, redemption.  Do you think that that played to his work ethic?  Do you think that‘s one of the reasons why he was such a tireless worker, that that had something to do with it, that he was on a mission to prove, that he was on a mission to carry on the legacy of his brothers, whose lives were cut short? 

BROKAW:  I do.  I think it would have been easy enough for him to go off into some kind of soft retirement after he lost to President Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980.  But he went back to the Senate and began to rebuild his career and rebuild his life. 

You have to give great credit to his wife Vicki as well.  They married in 1992.  I think it‘s the happiest I‘ve ever seen him.  Since the time that they were married. I think she was an important influence on him. 

And what was always striking about Ted Kennedy, when people would question me, as I would move around the country, and wonder about him, often in very harsh terms—I would say, look, here‘s a guy of great privilege, great wealth.  He could have just retired to Hyannisport, or any place in the world, for that matter.

But for all the privilege that he had, he really did identify with the underclass and with the working class.  And he never gave up the fight for them.  And I think it is a lesson for people who are coming into public life now, Democrat or Republican, about his ability to go to the center of the aisle in the Senate and reach across and have good friends.  Not just Orrin Hatch but others as well, and share a story with them. 

SCHULTZ:  And finally, Tom, this has been thrown around a lot, the liberal lion of the Senate.  There may be some folks watching tonight that aren‘t quite sure.  What does that mean?  What does that mean to you? 

BROKAW:  Well, he certainly was a liberal.  He was a liberal, through and through, in his entire career, unapologetic about it.  Defended his liberal philosophy.  He was, as Jonathan Alter pointed out earlier, in one of the fights that a lot of people forget about, one of the strong advocates for Medicare, which was described as not just a socialization of American health care at that time, but really the communism of American health care. 

So he was unapologetic about it.  Then the lion part is that he was in the Senate for so long, and his roar could always be heard.  But he was a friendly lion more than he was a voracious lion.

SCHULTZ:  Tom Brokaw, thanks so much for joining us on THE ED SHOW tonight.  Thank you. 

BROKAW:  OK, Ed.  My pleasure.

SCHULTZ:  Finally tonight, on my radio show, often when I interviewed him, I called him a gladiator.  And I can say as a progressive radio and television broadcaster, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of having the gladiator, Ted Kennedy, on my side. 

The conservative voices on the airwaves in America often drowned out the progressive format, especially in the radio business.  My wife and I had a chance to meet Senator Kennedy back in 2000.  We became great friends.  And a number of times every year he would always connect with us. 

He was an encouraging voice and friend.  He wanted progressive talk to work.  He wanted balance.  He wanted debate.  He wanted advocacy.  But most of all, he wanted the American people to hear the truth about the critical issues of our time. 

We often hear Senator Ted Kennedy described as the liberal lion of the Senate.  The lion, in a fight, never gives up. 

Liberals, this is our calling to see this fight for health care for every American to a successful finish.  A Ted Kennedy health bill is just that. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  Thanks for joining us tonight. 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next. 


E. KENNEDY:  -- have been with me in the happiest days and the hardest days.  Together, we have known success and seen set backs, victory and defeat.  But we have never lost our belief that we are called to a better country and a newer world.

Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you. 



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