The Spokesman-Review


Smart Bombs: Lionize Kennedy for his hard work

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then whoever coined “liberal lion” for Sen. Edward Kennedy must have a really big head these days. In any event, it’s a poor moniker.

In this age of celebrity fawning, I suppose a grandiose descriptor is to be expected. We’ve recently witnessed the passing of the The Most Trusted Man in America, the King of Pop and America’s Pitchman, who was the sidekick to The King of Late Night. Never fear, we have an endless supply of aggrandizing adjectives.

What stands out to me about Kennedy is not that he was born and bred to be the king of the jungle, it’s that he overcame his privileged standing to become the hardest-working and most effective member of Congress over the past four decades. He could’ve lounged around the congressional veld and emitted the occasional roar, but instead he became the Senate’s strongest workhorse. While his colleagues were braying like jackasses on TV and radio, Kennedy was plowing new ground with one bill after another.

He’ll have the special. I’ve seen plenty of diversionary blame-the-media rants in my day, but the one authored by University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was awfully slick. On Wednesday, he held a press conference to blast the media for reports related to his admitted one-night stand at a restaurant (ordering off the menu) with the wife of his equipment manager (nah, too easy). His complaint? How dare the media do this on the same day that Sen. Kennedy died.

It’s awfully considerate of Pitino to look out for the memory of the senator, rather than himself.

“Enough’s enough, everybody is tired of it,” Pitino said. “We need to get on with the important things in life like the economy and really some crucial things in life like basketball.”

Yeah, crucial stuff, like hoops and getting the economy to box out and rebound.

One small problem. One argument for bringing down health care costs and expanding access is to limit the number of areas that health insurers are mandated to cover.

Idaho has 13 such mandates. Washington has 57. The national average is 42. Meanwhile, 14.6 percent of Idahoans are not insured; it’s 11.6 percent in Washington, according to census data.

To be fair, the state of Washington has stepped in to cover more people and it has more large employers. But the fact that Idaho has so few mandates and so many uninsured people shows that the small-government solution needs work.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at or at (509) 459-5026.

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