"Why are there so few Ted Kennedys in Washington today?" asks the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib. He answers:
In the past generation, the two parties have sorted out by ideology and by geography. They have moved steadily toward opposite ends of the political spectrum, leaving fewer moderate centrists from either party who can stand on the middle ground where compromises are made and deals are done.
"I think it has everything to do with the ideological polarization of the parties that began in the late '70s and built over a period of time, and the dominance of ideological thinking," says Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution who has studied this evolution. "It has now built to an extent, and to a point, where it becomes extremely difficult for someone to really stray" from either end of the spectrum.
Sen. Kennedy. . . was an unabashed liberal, yes, but also an iconic figure, secure in his place as senator-for-life from Massachusetts and free to set his own course.