Transcript: Kerry, Hatch

And, George, it is remarkable. You look at that debate, the first debate, 47 years later he wrote 2,500 bills, 300 signed into law, and I was struck. You wrote this week that he may be the most consequential Kennedy brother. WILL: Yes, in the sense that politics requires patience and rewards cumulative effort, and the other two lives were cut short. History dealt Ted Kennedy a bad hand. That is, he became Mr. Democrat and Mr. Liberal at a time when liberalism just began to recede. His career is a little bit like that of Robert Taft, who for a generation was Mr. Republican. The Republicans loved him, applauded him, and never nominated him for president. In 1980, they refused to nominate Ted Kennedy. In 1984, they nominated the last New Deal Democrat to be nominated, that was Walter Mondale, and he lost 49 states. In '88, they began moving away with Dukakis. In '92, they finally elected a really different Democrat. DONALDSON: Well, you know, Eddie McCormick was right in 1962. His candidacy was a joke, except for the fact that his brother was president of the United States, and Kennedys in Massachusetts were very important. And for the first 15, maybe 20 years, I think what he did in the Senate was not something that will be his legacy. It is the things he did outside of the Senate that people remember. But it was liberating to lose that nomination fight to Jimmy Carter, get that monkey off his back, and the next few years, particularly when he married Vicki, I think the whole body of Ted Kennedy's work has to be judged. And in judging the whole body, I think I agree with George. STEPHANOPOULOS: E.J., Ted Kennedy himself put it in context, in this remarkable scene -- I don't know how many saw it -- but last night at Arlington Cemetery, Cardinal McCarrick read the letter, parts of the letter that Ted Kennedy wrote to the pope earlier this summer, and he talked about how he wasn't a perfect person, but he also seemed to use his Catholic faith and say that his public career had -- was rooted in his faith and an expression of his faith. DIONNE: You know, we Catholics believe profoundly in the power of confession, and in a way, part of that letter was Ted Kennedy's last confession, an acknowledgement of sin. What he really did is he got the last word at his own funeral, and it was an extraordinary manifesto in part. And I think he was -- his Catholicism was very important to him. He was a serious churchgoer, and it was not only a way to make a public case for his kind of liberal Catholicism, it was also a way of lobbying Pope Benedict. And it's fascinating that pope...


DIONNE: Yes, and that it's interesting, Pope Benedict's latest encyclical was a powerful call for social justice that Ted Kennedy would have endorsed almost to the last comma.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He did mention abortion, of course, in that letter...

DIONNE: He did slightly (ph). He said we want a protection for Catholic doctors within the health care plan. (CROSSTALK)

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