Ted Kennedy, who died Tuesday at age 77, lived “an almost incomprehensible life,” said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic. But the “liberal lion” of the Senate didn’t live long enough to see the enactment of universal health care, a cause “to which he had devoted many of his later years.” Will Democrats use his death as a “rallying cry” to pass health-care reform, or was his expected death already “priced in to the politics of the debate” (watch a news report on Edward Kennedy’s death)?

Certainly, Kennedy’s “physical absence” while undergoing chemotherapy left a “void” in Senate negotiations, said Thomas Ferraro in Reuters. But the “Democratic power broker” called health-care reform “the cause of my life,” and the affection for him from both sides of the Senate aisle “could actually jump-start the effort for legislation that would be seen as a tribute to his lifetime of work.”

Ted Kennedy’s brain cancer was “plenty sympathy-inducing” in itself, and it didn’t seem to have much effect, said Jason Zengerle in The New Republic. In fact, Kennedy’s GOP colleagues have used his absence as a “convenient excuse” to oppose reform bills—“If only Teddy were here” to broker a compromise! His death could sway some Republican friends, but it’s more likely they’ll stick to their opposition, “more in sorrow than anger.”

Well, the mainstream media will do its part, said conservative commentator Michelle Malkin in her blog, with a “nauseating excess” of “hagiographies and lionizations” of Kennedy and “crass calls to pass the health-care takeover to memorialize his death.” But that doesn’t mean those of us with “ideological differences” with Kennedy should show the “same lack of restraint.” Not now.