In the second hour of "The Early Show" on CBS Monday, co-host Harry Smith promoted one of Ted Kennedy's two new books this year: this one is a children's book called "My Senator and Me," written from the perspective of Kennedy's dog: "Splash." If you thought for one second that anyone at CBS was going to ask about the dog's name and er, Chappaquiddick, you might think "Captain Kangaroo" was still on the air.
MRC's Mike Rule reported that Smith asked vaguely about Kennedy's son Patrick and how his rehab is going, and then very gently asked Kennedy about "your feelings as we move forward" considering recent progress in Iraq. (A better question might have been: "So, Ted, still the best vote you ever cast?") I think the whole transcript is the best way to digest this interview:
Harry Smith: "There's a great old saying in Washington. If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. So that's just what Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy did six years ago. [This, unsurprisingly, is straight from the publisher's book description. Is Harry lazy...or just really aiming to please here?] Splash became a member of the Kennedy clan. Now he's the main character in the Senator's new children's book called 'My Senator and Me.' And Senator Edward Kennedy is with us this morning."
Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Senator: "Very, very nice to see you. Thanks very much for welcoming me and Splash."
Harry Smith: "You know, that saying is so true because it's, that's a pretty tough town, isn't it?"
Ted Kennedy: "It's a very tough one. We had a, and Splash is a part of our family, but he's part of the senate family as well. He comes to work with me every day with his little niece Sunny and members of the senate dome. He's not allowed to go on the senate floor. He's troubled by that...[Smith laughs like a Kennedy aide here] because he thinks, he says that they won't let him on because people will say that they don't think he knows how to behave. But actually, he says that he behaves a lot better than most senators."
Harry Smith: "The book is quite, quite sweet. It's told from his perspective."
Ted Kennedy: "Yes."
Harry Smith: "So you literally do, you take him into the senate with you every day? He rides on the trolley and everything else?"
Ted Kennedy: "He has the whole nine yards. He exercises on the way in. He sleeps good part of the morning. We exercise him at lunch time and back in the evening. I read with a child at a school in, on the Hill, and I had noticed, I'd been doing that for some period of time. And I noticed, when I first started over ten years ago, that there weren't many books. And I found that the books the children liked dealt with animals and pets. So I thought, well, I'll try this. And then my wife Vicky had the idea of having it told from the point of view of the dog. And so it's told from Splash's point of view."
Harry Smith: "He is very handsome, clearly charming, right? And I'm wondering, he must steal the thunder from you."
Ted Kennedy: "Well, he does frequently. Particularly when we were up at Fenway Park the other day. He's a great fetcher, you know. He chases the the ball. He'll do that until, and he'll, if I say, well, we've had enough of that, he'll go over and find some stranger in a park and drop the ball there to play ball."
Harry Smith: "Portuguese water dog is what he is, right?"
Ted Kennedy: "Webbed feet. Message dog for the Portuguese navy for 300 years. Fishermen use them today in Portugal because they train to dive in the water and they pick flounder from the bottom of the, of the rock area."
Harry Smith: "It's a very, very sweet book. We don't have the opportunity to all that often, so as long as we're here, I want to know how your son is."
Ted Kennedy: "Patrick's doing well. He's very focused, accepted responsibilities for the difficulties. He's working hard now on all the things that he's involved in."
Harry Smith: "Because he's actually gone back, he's gone through rehab and has actually gone back to work."
Ted Kennedy: "It's a continuing engagement in a process, but he's fully involved in that, and he's fully involved in the life of the Congress. And he's back working for the people of Rhode Island. He's a hard worker. He's very industrious. He knows how important the treatment is, and he's doing well. I'm proud of him. And I'm sure he'll do well. He's very grateful for all the thoughts and prayers people have, uh, offered for him."
Harry Smith: "Tough. Couldn't have been easy for you to go through."
Ted Kennedy: "No, it's difficult. We've had, you know most families have different health challenges. I had a son who lost his leg to cancer and a daughter Kara that had lung cancer in a very, very serious way. And, they are both doing very well and have, they have their own children. So health is something that most families, it's a passion of mine to try and get good health care for all. That's another issue for a longer time. But something that hopefully the country can come to."
Harry Smith: "Huge fight on the floor in Congress that went on for hours and hours and hours about withdrawing troops from Iraq and about showing support for the troops, and as this goes on, there has been some success of late. They do have this government together. There is reasonable quietness, at least temporarily, it seems, on the streets of Baghdad. And Zarqawi has been killed. What are your feelings as we move forward in this time?"
Ted Kennedy: "Well, my own sense, we did have a debate. I think the country needs a debate. It really wasn't all that much last week. I think you're going to see more this week. But just in a global kind of way. People ask about where the Democrats are, where the Republicans are. I think the one thing with regards to the Democrats, we are united that we, this policy of open-endedness is not a successful policy. My own sense and feeling is that we are part of the problem rather than the solution, and that many of the factions in Iraq lean on us as a crutch and will continue to do so as long as they know that we're there. So we say, what, three months, four months, six months, 12 months, can't they do, train their people to defend their own country. As we have been able to train Americans. As I'm reminded, the solution is not going to be in the barrel of a gun of a Marine that's 22 years old. There has to be political [sic], and that's hopefully will be possible."
Harry Smith: "We will be listening to that debate this week. To read an excerpt from 'My Senator and Me,' log onto our web site at CBSNews.com."