"Despite His Successes, Kennedy Left Unfinished Business in the Senate," reporter John Broder's laudatory Friday tribute to Sen. Kennedy's liberal legislative record, at least mentions what his colleague Sheryl Gay Stolberg forgot: Kennedy's attack on Robert Bork. But that was about it for balance.
Upon his death, Senator Edward M. Kennedy was heralded as one of the greatest legislators of all time. But while his record includes historic legislation of sweeping consequence that places him among the Senate's most successful leaders, it also includes some unfinished business and some laws whose impact remains to fully measured.
In his nearly 47 years of service, Mr. Kennedy introduced 2,500 bills and saw more than 550 of them enacted into law, according to records compiled by his office.
Yet despite his legislative skill, his instinctual feel for politics and alliances built across party lines over decades, he was unable to achieve some of the changes he saw as his life's work. And in one area - judicial nominations - some critics believe Mr. Kennedy forever changed the rules of the game for the worse with his harsh and single-minded opposition to Robert H. Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987.
Broder praised Kennedy's work expanding government health care programs and education:
Mr. Kennedy himself acknowledged flaws in the (No Child Left Behind) law and complained that the bill had been badly underfinanced and that the program as designed by Bush administration officials encouraged teachers to design their classes solely around standardized tests. He also said the bill fell short of its goals of reducing class size and improving teacher training. Aides said that, had he lived, Mr. Kennedy would have worked to improve the law and see that it was fully financed.
"Fully financed" seems to be liberal media code for spending as much as an ultraliberal wants.
Broder also took a paranoid liberal look at the status of illegal immigrants, lumping in cable TV "ranting" to an alleged upsurge in "hate crimes" against illegals after the failure of Kennedy's immigration reform:
But he failed in his most ambitious effort to remake the nation's immigration system and provide legal status to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States today. In 2006, he co-sponsored a measure with Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, that would have strengthened border security while establishing a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal migrants.
The bill died in the House and the debate polarized an already divided Congress and nation. The climate for illegal immigrants in the United States has worsened since then, with an increase in hate crimes, activity by anti-immigrant groups and ranting on cable television and the Internet, according to Angela Kelley, an immigration expert at the liberal Center for American Progress.