Jay Rockefeller Is the New Teddy

Senator inherits Kennedy's cause of health care reform
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2009 1:10 PM CDT
Senate Finance Committee member Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Jay Rockefeller shares little of the temperament of the late Ted Kennedy, but what they do share is essential. “Massive wealth and a virtual lock on his Senate seat frees a man to do what he believes in,” writes Margaret Carlson. And for both men—the West Virginia Democrat now more than ever—that means a dedication to health care reform. In his own teary, stubborn way, Rockefeller has assumed Teddy’s “health care mantle.” And like him, he is "unafraid to be liberal."

Rockefeller is in an unfamiliar situation, Carlson writes on the Daily Beast, “operating under the klieg lights” and telling the nation and his recalcitrant colleagues why he cares. Since his first days as a volunteer in depressed West Virginia 45 years ago, “I have seen the situation grow worse—not better,” he says. He is so invested in a public option that he told the president he was “noncommittal” on voting for a bill that doesn’t include it, and is fighting for it until the last committee meeting. “Kennedy believed in miracles,” Carlson writes. “Rockefeller does, too.”