By now, you've probably listened to this audio recording of Sen. Arlen Specter thanking Allegheny Republicans for endorsing him in this Tuesday's Democratic primary. Laughs emanated from the audience packed full of Allegheny County dems the first time he made the blunder. The second time, though, was no laughing matter for the party elite trying to defeat challenger Joe Sestak.
My mother and I watched the story explode on television, prompting us to wonder if the 80-year-old Specter is all there. "I kinda feel bad for him," my mother said. "He just looks so sad all the time."
"Feel bad for a politician?" I said. "Puuuuuuhlease!"
These people don't care about you or me. They care about the power. They care about the lobbyist kickbacks. They care about the pay, perks and pensions.
And they are hopelessly entrenched in a system that is broken. From municipalities to the state and federal government, these politicos are destroying our democracy. But that might be changing in a non-partisan fashion. Pols from both sides are losing their primary bids to a new generation of people who will probably be no more noble than their predecessors. But at least it's a start.
As Gail Collins of The New York Times wrote yesterday: "The war on insiders does not seem like all that bad a development. The problem with American politics is less that incumbents are being upset than that they usually cannot be dislodged with a crowbar."
This storyline was punctuated on The Daily Show last night when Senior British Correspondent John Oliver opined on the recent prime minister elections across the pond. The Briton explained that voters there don't have the same cuddly feelings for their politicians, like Gordon Brown, when they leave office. As Oliver explains 5:15 into this clip, "it's one of the few things we have to look forward to."
Instead, he said, the British "treat our political leaders like the disposable bureaucrats that they are."
Here's hoping we do the same with our "leaders" this election year.