Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do some of those "C"s in DSCC and DCCC stand for "crappy candidates"?


And the GOP's no better: "Now is a good time to be a Republican" was the slogan of losing Kentucky Senate candidate Trey Grayson. Ho-kay! Do you suppose this man has a pulse?

"That Specter's support collapsed so quickly everywhere outside Philadelphia suggested how weak he probably would have been against conservative Republican nominee Pat Toomey. Party leaders who backed Specter can nonetheless be relieved that voters picked the stronger candidate for November."
-- E. J. Dionne Jr., in his WaPo column today,

by Ken

Do you suppose we could figure out some way of having elections without all the moronic afterblithering? It's where the punditocracy and the political insiders come together to misunderstand what just happened, either celebrating the old conventional wisdom or, when necessary, grafting on a new branch of stupidity.

Tuesday's was that sort of election, of course. The "in" crowd doesn't seem to have been prepared for all those jolts to political orthodoxy, and as a result created this new conventional wisdom that the whole country is of a mind to just t'row dem congressional bums out. Of course as recently as the run-up to the 2006 midterm elections the conventional wisdom was that the system was so loaded in favor of incumbents that they could hardly be nudged from their cushy seats.

Well, maybe we should applaud a conventional wisdom that has the maturity to change its mind. I just wish it had a little less of the feel of roller derby.

I"m not saying that there isn't a wave of skepticism lapping at the tootsies of those already-panicky incumbents. But wouldn't it be more sensible to suggest that what's happened is that old-style aura of invincibility has been lifted from the entrenched darlings? And isn't that a good thing?

After all, for how many decades now have polls been telling us that Americans have little but contempt for Congress? Despite which, of course, voters continued to return those incumbents to a higher and higher degree of mathematical certainty? Naturally the conventional wisdom had an explanation for that (if you're the conventional wisdom, it's your job to have an explanation for all these little political phenomena, after all): Sure, the people hated congresscritters, just not their own. As congressional popularity ratings have sunk down through the 20s, and people were treated to a never-acknowledged depression as an extra treat, did everybody really imagine that this disconnect would never be reconnected?

But of course this is mostly tangential, at least to last Tuesday's results. The conventional wisdom can't be bothered to look too closely at all these imperiled incumbents. Going back before Tuesday, sure, even I find it hilarious to think that an inanimate log like Bob Bennett was found by Teabagger-crazed Utahans to be insufficiently conservative. Let's come back to poor Bob in a moment.

Tuesday's discommoded incumbents, however, were Old Arlen Specter and the Whore of Arkansas Blanche Lincoln. Shouldn't that figure in the political calculus? Unless you want to argue that Arlen and Blanche now qualify as "representative" incumbent U.S. senators. I don't want to discuss this, though; I think you'd have much too easy a time persuading me.

Of course E. J. Dionne Jr. got it right in the column today from which I've extracted the quote at the top of this post. The fact is, Old Arlen was a simply awful candidate, and his awfulness wasn't going to go away in the general election.

It's true that if the Old Boys hadn't had their Devil's deal to support Arlen for reelection as a Dem, they might have swallowed hard and gone into business with Joe Sestak as their candidate against him, or more likely anti-tax nut Pat Toomey. But they wouldn't have been thrilled about it. As Lois Romano noted in a not-totally-horrible piece about Sestak in today's Post, Sestak is known by political insiders to be difficult -- he has strongly held views, with not a lot of flexibility, and has a nasty way of sticking to his own beliefs about policy and politics -- his view about politics being, apparently, mostly that he doesn't give a damn about politics, but thinks policy ought to be what politics is about. If you're a pundit or a party pro, what are you going to do with a guy like that?

As we've all been noting all week, some really fine candidates had a good day Tuesday, folks like Joe Sestak in PA, Elaine Marshall in NC, and Jack Conway in Kentucky. This has given rise to the heretical notion that if only the party pros came to their senses, they could be supporting rather than cowering before these better candidates.

The only thing missing in this calculation is: The party pros don't want better candidates. Better candidates might be, goodness knows, difficult. They don't understand how the game is played. Unlike, say, Madame Blanche. Boy, does she know how the game is played. Just look back at those numbers for the amount of cash she's pocketed from the industries she legislates over.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, pretty much the same thing is happening. As Howie noted here months ago, the pros inb both parties have completely lost touch with reality if you look at the (slightly) animated corpses they're sending into battle. Do they really think they can get away with this forever? Maybe without the economic meltdown they could have. Unfortunately for them, a cold dose of reality has gotten a lot of people's attention.

Look at the GOP side in Kentucky. Of course the Teabaggers' favorite, Rand Paul, is an idiot. It's a pleasure to see him already self-destructing on the civil-rights question. But at least he show signs of life, whereas the officially sanctioned candidate, the man Miss Mitch McConnell felt it so important to clear poor old Jim Bunning out of the race for, was such an utter nonentity that non-pro Republicans couldn't help but notice.

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At 1:14 PM, Blogger cybermome said...


Boy you nailed it here in PA.And not just about our Senate Race. The Dem political machine in Philly threw Anthony Williams into the mix for Governor because Joe Hoeffel doesn't play ball with corporate interests. They actually thought Williams would help Specter. It all back fired and now we get a Dem candidate for Governor that I don't think can beat the Repub Corbett.Corbett makes NJ Gov Christie look liberal.

I know Joe. Yes he has a REALLY bad temper. But I think he represents his constituents well and I LOVE that he has shaken up the Dem machine.


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