Senator Ted's Excellent Adventure
Ted Kaufman may not have a plan for his future after the Senate, but for the present, he is a man on a mission.
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After lunch, there was an early start to a Foreign Relations Committee nominating hearing that included testimony from Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who was nominated to be ambassador to Ireland. Kaufman’s questions centered on how Rooney could improve direct investment to Ireland in the areas of information technology, banking and pharmaceuticals—industries important to the continued prosperity of Delaware. Then it was off to a meeting with a group of 20 Delaware teachers who are part of Delaware’s Democracy Project. Kaufman asked his staff to reschedule a floor speech so that he could make the meeting on time. “I hate being late,” he says.
He addressed the teachers with opening remarks that affirm the importance of their work in passing the legacy of democracy to the next generation. He then threw the meeting open to questions. Kaufman deftly addressed foreign policy issues, asserting that in Iraq, “at least we know where we’re going now,” and that in Afghanistan, “we now have a plan, but are awaiting its execution.” When he talked about Pakistan, however, there were no rosy elements to the assessment. “Pakistan is a mess.”
Among the teachers, Kaufman answered the question that had been on the minds of many Delawareans since he was appointed. “I have no intention of running for re-election,” he has said emphatically. And after completing his term in 2010? “I have planned my whole life. I’m done with planning. I’ll just wait and see what happens next.”
In the meantime, Kaufman will remain a senator on a mission. At a rescheduled floor speech that evening, Kaufman addressed an empty chamber (not uncommon for floor speeches) on the problems facing financial markets. He criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission for dragging its feet on reforms other financial regulators around the world have already addressed to prevent another global financial meltdown. The theme built on one that had earlier been presented by his Republican colleague, Isakson, again evidence of Kaufman’s desire to work both sides of the aisle to get things done.
He also wants to change the sometimes negative reputation of federal workers.
“The worth of federal employees is not understood by the public,” he says. “I hope to spotlight at least 70 or more of these dedicated public servants during the balance of my term in hopes of changing that public perception to a positive one.”
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