WWTD—What Would Teddy Do?
While this question is unlikely to spawn any adolescent evangelical fashion trends, it does have some cache these days. In the wake of the passing of the Senior Senator from Massachusetts many of his former colleagues in our nation’s legislature are reflecting on his legacy, his tenacity, and his lifelong commitment to healthcare for all Americans. The healthcare reform debate has stalled on the predictable shoals of partisanship and the relatively new phenomenon of vitriolic town hall meetings. And it was amidst these events that Senator Edward Kennedy died, was eulogized, and is remembered. How best, both his Democratic colleagues and Republican friends/rivals are asking, ought we to memorialize him? How can we honor his memory as we work to reform the manner in which we pay for health care? How would he have proceeded, were he still with us? What would Teddy do?
Frankly, it’s surprising to see so many legislators and commentators from both ends of the political spectrum agree that the WWTD question is relevant. It’s surprising to hear so many of Kennedy’s political adversaries speak his name in almost reverential tones. It’s surprising to hear the Blue Dogs and GOP stalwarts agree to follow a trail that the deceased “Liberal Lion” might have blazed. But it isn’t surprising to see that they answer that key question—What would Teddy Do?—in very different ways. As Christians know all too well, even when there is a consensus of reverence for the past words and deeds of a great person, there is little chance of that consensus translating readily into a plan for future action. WWTD? WWJD? So often we just do not and cannot know.