Ted Kennedy's Obama-endorsement moment a few days ago lifted the 76-year-old senator into a zone he hadn't seen for years. All the TV news programs wanted him on, some of his nieces and nephews actually split with him and he even managed to upstage the State of the Union address.
Predictably, nasty stuff about Kennedy instantly appeared on some far-right Internet sites, but more than a few left-wing concerns also hammered him for abandoning his former pals the Clintons.
In short, there was minor hysteria in liberal circles because Kennedy and his niece, Caroline, are supporting Barack Obama over the Democratic machine candidate, Hillary Clinton. And nowhere was the hysteria more pronounced than in the National Organization for Women.
The nonpartisan Web site Politico reported that New York NOW President Marcia Pappas was furious with Kennedy. The Web site quotes Pappas as saying:
'Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Hillary Clinton's opponent in the Democratic Presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him ... and now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He's picked the new guy over us. He's joined the list of progressive white men who can't or won't handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton.'
So what this means is that any guy who doesn't support Sen. Clinton for president is a traitor to all things feminine. I don't even want to think about how Ms. Pappas would characterize women who don't support Hillary.
Sensing danger, the national president of NOW, Kim Gandy, issued her own statement directly contradicting her New York lieutenant:
'Though (NOW) has proudly endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, we respect Sen. Kennedy's endorsement.'
This is damage control. Ms. Gandy and other liberal big shots understand a strong tinge of bitterness is sweeping through the progressive ranks, and that is disaster for the secular-progressive movement.
According to every survey done on the subject, traditional-minded Americans outnumber secular-progressives by more than 2 to 1. If the liberal lobby fractures, especially over the explosive issues of race and gender, permanent damage may be done to the progressive movement.
At the State of the Union address, Sens. Clinton and Obama would not even look at each other. I've been watching this very closely, and I think Obama took great offense to the slumlord remark. I mean, it's one thing to say Jesse Jackson won South Carolina, so what's the big deal that Obama won it, but it's quite another for Hillary Clinton to accuse Obama of selling out inner-city blacks.
This liberal civil war is now overshadowing the entire primary process, and it's ironic that the liberal media are enthusiastically driving the story. NBC News and others are spending major time parsing every single perceived insult coming from the Clinton and Obama camps.
It will all end, of course, when the Democrats select their nominee. Then the competitors will stand together, smiling for the cameras.
But underneath those smiles will be memories and, with apologies to Barbra Streisand, they won't be 'misty water-colored.' Trust me.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His "Radio Factor" can be heard from 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM.