Senator Kennedy is having the peculiar satisfaction of reading his own obituaries. Indeed, he can watch them on TV or click them on the Web. I imagine him wondering how he can maximize the benefit. Imagine if he feels fit enough to make a "farewell" speech to the Denver convention. Who knows? His showing up now might be enough to suppress any attempt by the Clintonites to stage a floor fight over the forbidden delegates or any other pretext; Kennedy could shame them into submission. Would treatments make this more difficult to do? I can also imagine him weighing the pros and cons at this point. Perhaps I don't do him justice, but I came neither to praise or bury him today.
I find myself annoyed by the flood of reporting on Kennedy's illness, not because I dislike the senator, but because it's just another demonstration of the tabloid tendencies of all the news media now. It's just too easy to file a "Brave Last Days" story and break out the retrospective footage and the remembrances of talking heads. It's always easier to look backward than to look with clear eyes at the present. It's easier to dwell on the human interest of the suffering senator than to consider the larger, sometimes impersonal trends that actually mean more to ordinary people, whether they realize it or not. It's easier to wallow in celebrity and call it history than to examine where real history is being made. There is simply no way in which the mere illness of a senator, even one with Kennedy's seniority, is the lead story on an evening newscast or even a front page story in tomorrow's paper. Even here, this is only the "top" story, physically speaking, because I'm writing it after the Kentucky piece. But my subject isn't Kennedy, anyway, but the coverage of Kennedy. I may have words on the man himself when the right time comes, but for now, let him rest in peace -- er, I mean comfortably.