As you have probably heard by now, Senator Ted Kennedy was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital the other day after experiencing seizures. Initial reports described "stroke-like symptoms" though that appears to not have been the case. Nonetheless, it does raise the interesting intellectual question of what happens when the senior Senator does shed the mortal coil. He is, after all, four years older than John McCain-- and judging from recent media discussion, McCain's birth only barely post-dates the Paleozoic Era which means that Ted Kennedy is approximately four years older than the first appearance of vertebrates.
We should add that we have nothing against Ted Kennedy and wish him only the best; nonetheless, the orderly procession of the affairs of state are our paramount concern. To that end, here is a timeline of what would happen should Senator Kennedy die. For our purposes, let's say that the Senator passes at 4:50pm on a Thursday.
4:50pm: Senator Edward M. Kennedy dies. Family mourns; collectively shudders in fear as they realize that means the most powerful member of the Kennedy family is now California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
4:51pm (1:51pm Pacific): Having realized same, Gov. Schwarzengger lights up a cigar & toasts the late Senator. And laughs like Vincent Price at the end of "Thriller".
5:00pm: Massachusetts General Hospital holds a press conference.
5:00pm: Somewhere, Howie Carr dances.
5:15pm: President George Bush is informed.
5:16pm: Howie Carr pulls out a column he has written and rewritten 400 times since 1978, throws in another reference to Chappaquiddick, and sends it to his editors at the Herald.
5:20pm: Senator John Kerry is informed.
5:30pm: President George Bush finally remembers what a Senator is.
5:32pm: President George Bush has already forgotten what a Senator is.
5:47pm: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick releases statement praising Kennedy's contribution to public service; in response to a question, reminds press that under Massachusetts law, he is responsible for naming somebody to fill Kennedy's seat for the remainder of the Senator's term of office.
5:48pm-8pm: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick tells all callers that no, really, it's too early for them to be offering themselves up for Kennedy's Senate seat.
5:49pm: Reminds Senator John Kerry that the call was not necessary as he's already a United States Senator.
8:00pm: President George Bush remembers who Senator Ted Kennedy is but can't recall why this is important right now.
8:03pm: Howie Carr suddenly realizes that if the Feds catch Whitey Bulger, he has no more material. Howie weeps.
Monday, 9:00am: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has narrowed his list of potential Senators to three people with a long history of service to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: This Old House carpenter Norm Abram, former television anchor Liz Walker, and 70's childrens' television personality Willie Whistle.
Two weeks later: Senator Willie Whistle is sworn into office.