The revelation that Michael Jackson's death was ruled a homicide threatened to derail media attention on the vitally important health care debate. One could almost hear the cogs begin to turn at CNN/Fox/MSNBC as they geared up for a media love fest that would have them pour millions of dollars into covering MJ's still unburied body.
And then, as if by divine intervention, a man intimately intertwined in America's deeply divisive health care debate, swooped in and rescued the country from hours of relentless speculation by 'experts' on celebrity deaths.
Sadly, Senator Ted Kennedy rescued the debate by dying, but he saved it nevertheless, and the country owes him a debt of gratitude for his final act of public service.
In America, the media can usually focus on one thing, and one thing only. When a D-List celebrity with large breasts dies, you can forget foreign wars, poverty or political corruption. The public's insatiable curiosity with everything celebrity is fed, nurtured, and exploited by a media system interested only in profit. But sometimes, and it really is only sometimes, the media's relentless focus on a single, personality based issue can reap unintentional rewards.
The 24/7 coverage of Senator Kennedy's death will swing debate back to health care, because that was the main focus of his life. And because Kennedy was so adamant that there should be a public option, it may actually inspire the chronically cowardly Democrats to fight for it.
"His death absolutely will stiffen the spine of the Democrats to get something this year for this extraordinary giant in Senate history," said Howard Dean.
And he may well be right.
The prospect of a half-assed bill without a public option passing after the death of Senator Kennedy would be too much for the Democrats to withstand politically, and the progressive wing would never forgive the Centrists, making future collaboration virtually impossible.
So Ted Kennedy's final act may be the very thing the Democrats need to unify themselves, stop debating with the Republicans, and pass a meaningful bill that would bring affordable health care to the public.
And if they do, we'll have Senator Kennedy to thank for it.