In 1943, on this day the forty-fourth Vice President of the United States William Warren ("Bill") Bradley was born in Crystal City, Missouri. An unusually active office holder selected for regional balance, ironically his executive candidacy was sharply diminished by his service in the White House. He was unfortunate to lose credibility and popularity because of the perceived failure of his bold initiatives that stirred up a hornet's nest of hostile opposition from an unusual alliance of political forces.
An article from the No Chappaquiddick by Eric Lipps in which EMK's car only almost went off that bridge on July 18, 1969.
Bill Bradley the best President we never hadAn American Hall of Fame basketball player, Rhodes scholar, and former Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey he campaigned for President in two separate general elections. During 1992, he challenged the Republican incumbent Jack Kemp by praising the President for his victory in the Gulf War, but expressing the view that his economic program was a "well-intentioned disaster in the making". This fired the campaign race but also meant that he had locked horns particularly with conservatives.
Ultimately he had to settle for the consolation price of the Vice Presidency which in previous years had meant a big fat zero. However Sam Nunn saw him very much as a partner, and asked him to drive forward many of the vote-winning ideas that he had campaigned for hard during the race. And so immediately after the inauguration as a "100 days" quick win, he was appointed Chair of a working group on the subject of universal health care, one of Bradley's interests while in the Senate. Appearing before a conservative group in his home state of New York, ex-President Jack Kemp denounced the idea as threatening to substitute "a social-welfare mentality" for the "free market" in health care, branding it "another tax-and-spend scheme from people who think they can run your life better than you can".
Nevertheless, Bradley's healthcare working group released its report, which called for the establishment of a so-called "single-payer" national health care system, AmeriCare, loosely modelled on that of Canada. The program was intended to cover everyone not already eligible for care under either Medicaid or Medicare. Reaction was immediate, and, from the GOP, bitterly hostile. The Bradley group's plan was denounced as "socialist medicine" before anyone among its critics had read anything but a thumbnail summary of it.
As the millennium approach a desire for change began to grow. Tennessee Senator Al Gore looked set to replace Bradley as the Democratic Party nominee, but unfortunately for him he lost a powerful backer at a vital moment. In the Senate he and former President Ted Kennedy had fallen out over the Internal Defense Administration bill proposed by Nunn-Bradley. Having seen off Gore's weakened challenge, Bradley had to face-off Arizona Senator John McCain in the general election. His maverick appeal and promise of transformative change disguised a desperate need for the GOP to succeed, forcing the boldest candidate selection choice since Barry Goldwater. After Nixon's resignation, they had only managed to occupy the White House for a single term by Jack Kemp, and that largely due to the Donna Rice Scandal destroying the Hart Administration. Observers wondered whether McCain and his straight-talking express could stir up an even more impressive hornet net's that would make Bradley's opposition look very tame indeed.
In 2009, family members announced the death of former President Edward M. Kennedy. According to their statement, President Kennedy passed away shortly before midnight on Tuesday, August 25. He had been battling brain cancer since being diagnosed with the disease in May of 2008.
End of the Road at Chappaquddick by Eric LippsKennedy was the last of the four sons of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., the controversial multimillionaire who had served as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain in the 1930s. The eldest brother, Joseph Jr., died in 1944 while on a World War II bombing mission. He was followed by John F. Kennedy, who after entering politics in 1946 served as U.S. representative, senator and finally President of the United States before being assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, and by Robert F. Kennedy, who as a senator from New York ran for president until his own murder on June 5, 1968, just after his victory in the California Democratic primary. Robert Kennedy's death left Edward, commonly known as "Ted," as the last male survivor of his generation of the Kennedy family.
In 1972, Sen. Kennedy ran for president and won the Democratic nomination before being defeated by incumbent President Richard M. Nixon. Following the disgrace and resignation of both Nixon and his first vice-president Spiro T. Agnew, however, Kennedy ran again and once more won the Democratic nomination. As in 1972, he chose Washington Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson as his running mate. It was in some ways an odd match, for Jackson was considerably more conservative than Kennedy on many issues, but where it had failed in 1972 against Nixon, the Kennedy-Jackson ticket prevailed in 1976 over the Watergate-shadowed Gerald R. Ford and his VP choice, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York.
Kennedy would comment to several biographers on the role of sheer luck in his rise to the White House. On June 18, 1972, he had been returning from a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Martha's Vineyard, an intoxicated Kennedy had narrowly avoided a fatal accident when his car almost plunged off a bridge. Had the vehicle actually gone over, Kennedy noted, it was likely that either he, his female passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, or both would have died. Even if he had survived, the President suggested, the death of Kopechne might have permanently tarnished him, making his election to the presidency impossible. Instead, he said, the event helped persuade him to seek help with his growing dependency on alcohol, which had worsened after the death of his brother Robert the year before. His struggle with alcohol would inspire his founding, with his first wife Joan, of the Kennedy Center for Substance Abuse Treatment in 1988.
President Kennedy won reelection in 1980, narrowly defeating former California governor Ronald Reagan. Barely two months after his second inaugural, however, he was shot and seriously wounded by former mental patient John Hinckley, who had attempted to assassinate him to impress the actress Jodie Foster, with whom he had become infatuated. Vice-President Jackson was briefly named acting president under the Twenty-fifth Amendment -- the first time this had been done -- until it was clear Kennedy would be able to return to his duties.
In 1983, Vice-President Jackson himself would die, of an aortic aneurysm, forcing President Kennedy to seek a replacement. He selected Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, who would serve until Kennedy left office in January 1989.
As President, Kennedy would champion a number of causes, including health care reform, education and the environment, resulting in, among other things, the passage in 1984 of the Medicare Prescription Drug Pricing Act empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. He would also face a number of crises, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. His decision to selectively support the secular elements of the anti-Soviet mujaheddin would anger U.S. conservatives, already bitter at his decision in 1979 not to permit the deposed Shah of Iran to come to the U.S. For treatment for lymphoma, and would be opposed even by his own CIA director, Stansfield Turner. Kennedy's critics favored the Islamic fundamentalist factions, which they felt were more strongly anti-Communist. Also enraged would be many of those fundamentalists, including a Saudi expatriate named Osama bin Laden, who would go on to form the terrorist network known as Al Qaeda. In 1993 and again in 2001, this group attempted spectacular attacks against the U.S. The first attack, involving a powerful car bomb parked in the basement of the World Trade Center, did limited damage to the Trade Towers, resulting in six deaths; the second would be thwarted altogether after then-President John McCain responded forcefully to warnings that Al Qaeda was planning another strike against the United States.
After leaving the White House, President Kennedy would continue to advocate for his favorite causes, though his support would prove insufficient to overcome GOP opposition to the Nunn Administration's 1993 AmeriCare proposal for national health coverage.
He is survived by his second wife Victoria, two grown sons, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. of Branford, Conn., and United States Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island, two stepchildren, Curran Raclin and Caroline Raclin, and a sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.