Vicki Kennedy: A Dynasty (For Now)

If Senator Ted Kennedy gets his last wish -- that Massachusetts alters its succession law to allow an appointee to serve until the special election -- his wife Vicki is the only logical choice.

Cries of nepotism be damned; it would be a decision based on practicality more than dynasty.

It is often said that presidents only get one year to make their mark on the country. The 145 to 160 days of vacancy that the current law prescribes means Massachusetts will have only one senator in Washington until sometime in January (at the earliest). That's one less vote President Obama can count on.

True, Democrats changed the law in 2004 out of pure self-interest, and the present circumstance shows just what a huge mistake that was. It is completely reasonable to scoff and say, 'Serves them right.' But it is a bad law, and it ought to be changed.

And so if it is, Vicki Kennedy should receive the appointment. Many will bristle at the idea of another Kennedy being handed a seat in Congress, but she is by far the most practical choice to ensure a smooth transition.

Let's face it: time is of the essence. Whoever picks up Senator Kennedy's standard needs to hit the ground not just running, but in a full-on sprint. Vicki Kennedy -- and only Vicki Kennedy -- can do that.

Mrs. Kennedy has no need to get acquainted with staffers and other senators. She knows who she can count on and who does what. She knows how Senator Kennedy thought on every issue from the nearly two decades they spent together. And it is widely acknowledged that she has spent the last year serving as his eyes, ears and voice when he was not well enough to fully engage.

Continuing in public life without her husband would not be an easy decision for Mrs. Kennedy, who has just suffered a great emotional loss. But many have stepped up in their spouses' place and performed ably -- most notably another New England widow, Margaret Chase Smith.

In this case, it would be hoped that Kennedy fulfills her husband's wish by accepting the appointment and not seeking to complete his term via the special election. That's not to say she wouldn't make a great candidate -- she would, for all the aforementioned reasons.

In the end, "the dream" that Ted spoke of so eloquently in two convention speeches is not about the Kennedys keeping a Senate seat in their family. It is much, much bigger than that. After all, the life of the dream is predicated on the work going on, the cause enduring.

Keeping continuity in Kennedy's Senate seat -- at least for the remainder of 2009 -- is the right choice, whatever the appearance. Massachusetts lawmakers should reconsider the succession statute, and Vicki Kennedy should reconsider her reluctance to accept such an appointment.