Let Warren be Warren

As a rare convocation of America’s political nobility gathers to mark the opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston, there is palpable relief that the “Lion of the Senate” has a worthy heir.

The comparisons between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ted Kennedy have been flying thick and fast. The Washington Times argues that she has eclipsed President Obama, who Kennedy himself anointed as his progressive heir apparent, as the “liberals’ champion.”

The Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi recently asked “Can Warren be the new Ted Kennedy?” She concluded that Warren’s cross-aisle outreach to Republicans has not yet reached Kennedyesque heights. (Who knows if Kennedy, who was used to working old school GOP leaders like his good friend Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, would have gotten through to the hard-headed Tea Party Republicans in the Senate today.)

To prove Vennochi’s point, Warren’s opposition to an Obama administration international trade proposal-and “her blood and teeth left on the floor” persona-has earned her comparisons to another senator-and it is not EMK.

“Elizabeth Warren is the mirror image of Ted Cruz,” a former Democratic Senate staff member told The Hill. “And if we aren’t careful, she’ll drive the Democrats into the same ditch Cruz is trying to drive the Republicans.”

Tom Keane posits in Politico that Warren started out better situated in the Senate than Kennedy. It took him decades to reach the apex of his power. First-termer Warren has already made an outsized mark on the chamber, he says. With Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid exiting the scene, Warren is poised to exert greater influence in the chamber.

That is, if Warren doesn’t get caught up in the progressive Democratic tsunami that wants to sweep her into a primary fight with Hillary Clinton. 

The burden of worthiness to a legacy is a heavy one. Progressives may never be satisfied with Warren as the rightful occupant of the Bay State’s “people’s seat.” Sending Scott Brown scurrying off to New Hampshire was not enough. They are already backing up the moving van to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

That faction may be on to something. In some ways, Warren is better placed than Kennedy was to run for president. A battered incumbent is on his way out. The moderate and conservative wings of the Republican Party are still in family-feud mode. The presumptive Democratic nominee has scandals aplenty to cope with. Plus, she’s tethered to her charismatic, but unpredictable, former-president husband.

It will take bolder moves by the ever-cautious Clinton or a fresher Democratic face jumping into the race to dampen the exhausting speculation about a possible Warren run for the presidency.

In the meantime, the breathless progressive camp may want to consider what happened to Kennedy when he ran for president in 1980. He lost the Democratic nomination to Jimmy Carter. Comparing Warren to the “Lion of the Senate” is far too tempting. The senator can’t be the next Ted Kennedy. But she can be Elizabeth Warren.

–GABRIELLE GURLEY 

 

BEACON HILL

Attorney General Maura Healey takes her seat with Keller@Large to talk about an Olympic vote, her opposition to legalizing pot, and how much a role sexism played in the defeat of her predecessor, Martha Coakley, in last year’s race for governor.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Adrian Walker takes stock of the unravelling of the civic group Future Boston Alliance that has accompanied the financial meltdown of the company started by its sole benefactor, Greg Selkoe.

Lawrence legal bills hit $2.6 million in the fight to recover money from contractors in connection with disputes over two school buildings, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Randolph Town Council voted to seek funds to join Braintree and Holbrook in building a new $43.5 million water treatment plant rather than joining the MWRA, which would end up costing the town and its residents more in the long run.

OLYMPICS

Boston 2024 officials concede they’ve made lots of early missteps and were caught off-guard by the hostile reception they’ve received at public presentations on the Olympics. Scorecards are now needed to keep track of the various efforts opposing a Boston Olympics, as a new group, No Boston 2024, modeling itself on the direct-action tactics of the Occupy protest movement, has joined the fray of opponents. One of its leaders is pledging a much more aggressive posture than the “nicely dressed” folks at No Boston Olympics.

CASINOS

Two former New Bedford city solicitors are claiming the state Gaming Commission is treating the southeast region unfairly in the casino licensing process and could be jeopardizing developers’ chances to lure investors.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Senate Republicans are caught between a rock — confirming Loretta Lynch as attorney general even though she supports President Obama‘s immigration actions — and a hard place — rejecting her and keeping Eric Holder, whom many of them cannot countenance, either.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says legislation will be filed this week to “clarify” a controversial new measure he signed into law last week that could allow business owners to refuse service to gays on religious grounds.

One of Rahm Emanuel’s biggest critics endorses his reelection bid for mayor of Chicago,Governing reports.

ELECTIONS

Young activists are getting lessons in the fine art of “bird dogging” presidential wannabes in New Hampshire.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The rate of cremation is about to pass burials for a variety of reasons and funeral directors say, within the next 15 years, three-quarters of those who die or their families will choose cremation.

EDUCATION

The Globe reports that inadequate instruction for English language learners remains a widespread problem in the Boston Public Schools five years after the district vowed to correct shortcomings identified by federal officials.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse pens an op-ed on the likely state takeover of his city’s schools, saying student achievement in Holyoke is unacceptably low and that everyone must commit to making receivership work, if it comes to that.

Northeastern University is opening a small outpost in Silicon Valley that will offer courses in business and technology-related subjects.

HEALTH CARE

The White House has announced a $1.2 billion, five-year initiative to contain infectious outbreaks of drug-resistant “superbugs” that can be fatal.

A national push is on to give terminally-ill teens a say in end-of-life decisions.

TRANSPORTATION

The state outlines improvements to the congested I-495/Massachusetts Turnpike interchange at costs ranging from $165 million to $285 million, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Commuter rail gets back to full service, the Associated Press reports.

JetBlue experienced a major IT breakdown Monday morning which caused delays, NECN reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Boston police officer John Moynihan, who was shot point-blank in the face during a routine traffic stop in Roxbury on Friday night, is improving following surgery on Sunday, with a grateful Police Commissioner William Evans calling it “remarkable” that his officer appears to be on the road to a full recovery. A Globe editorial praises the outreach and open and lines of communication between police and black community leaders that was on display following Friday’s shooting.

The suspect in Moynihan’s shooting, Angelo West, a 41-year-old black man with an extensive record of violent offenses, was fatally shot by police after he opened fire, say officials. Black leaders praised police for their transparency after law enforcement officials quickly arranged to show them surveillance video that captured the shooting.CommonWealth‘s current winter issue dives deep on the increasing use of surveillance video in crime cases.

The FCC is scrutinizing the financial arrangements between prison systems and phone carriers that are causing the cost of jail phone calls to skyrocket, the New York Times reports.

Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane says it’s time to take a closer look at the police department’s refusal to acknowledge misconduct.

MEDIA

Trevor Noah will replace Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, Time reports.