Kennedy On NCLB…AFTie John On God Only Knows What…

I keep hearing how Senator Kennedy doesn’t really like No Child Left Behind or was hoodwinked or whatever…and then he keeps saying things like this in the WaPo…

Basically today’s must-read op-ed reinforces the notion that the fulcrum for a deal here is money and if Bush wants to keep No Child from being watered down then he needs to pony up the dollars.

AFTie John tries to put the best face on it, and sure Kennedy thinks the Republican bill to gut No Child is ridiculous, it is, but when AFTie John writes…

…what struck me is that much, though not all, of the op-ed echoes the rhetoric of Bush administration officials.

…your jaw sort of drops. Struck you? Yeah. On the substance Kennedy is closer to where Bush is on this issue than to where your organization is. Wake up. Democrats would be paying a huge political price for this mess but for Bush’s overall disaster after disaster run, which has relegated education and the political wedge it could be to deep second tier.

Don’t forget, for instance, that when Connecticut sued the feds over No Child, the NAACP sided with the feds. Bush could have made a lot of political headway through education but he blew it and now the question is whether he can even save his bill from a two-pronged attack from special interests who hate the law’s teeth and right-wingers who don’t like much of anything federal.

Update: A plugged in R writes: I think you missed the bigger political implications of Kennedy’s op-ed yesterday. He is still to this day anathema to the core of the Republican party. By so publicly associating himself with NCLB and condescendingly attacking the GOP congressman who put forward last week’s plan, he LOST twice as many votes as he gained. His ego got ahead of his political sense—yes, he reminded everyone that he played a major role in this groundbreaking legislation, but he also just made it infinitely harder to get it reauthorized.

Fair point, but I’m not so sure at all. First, wasn’t Kennedy using the Republican revolt as an opportunity to speak to Democrats and get a marker down on No Child? Second, sure the Republican base doesn’t like Kennedy but isn’t the calculus that the hard-core conservatives are gone on this anyway so it’s all about the center holding and Kennedy can help a lot with that? And, as much as Kennedy is loathed by some Republicans he’s adored by many Democrats so I’d say having him in the fight is a net plus overall given the No Child dynamics.

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