Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dislodged with a crowbar

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.


  1. The Sestak commercial with multiple showings of the clip where Specter says his party switch "allows me to be re-elected" is one of the most effective, devastating political ads I've ever seen. I think it's largely responsible for Sestak's surge in the polls.

  2. And now Specter and Rendell are "on the attack" over that ad... saying it should be shown in its full context and whatnot... yet, when shown in its full context, it still says the same thing, basically... just will a little butt-pucker at the end about how people are happy that specter can still serve them... If they were that happy, he wouldn't have to switch to get re-elected.

  3. Personally, I think the most devastating part of the ad is when W is endorsing him in 2004. Then four years later, he's standing next to that bumbling idiot Sarah Palin. He buried himself by being a typical opportunistic politician. And here's a quote from Specter the day he announced the party switch.

    "I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate."

    Well, he should've been prepared to have his 29-year record as a Republican decided by the Democratic primary electorate.

  4. Just curious- is it truly so impossible to believe that someone could run for office because they want to do something positive? As one of "those people", I'm kind of offended at the blanket assumption that my motives are nothing but corrupt.

  5. Jesse,

    I believe that people get into politics for the right reasons, but after a few years, most of them become a part of the machine. No better example than the PA Legislature. It is a bloated waste of money that does very few things of importance for the taxpayers. The pay, pension and per diems for our state leaders is absolutely outrageous.

    Maybe I should direct this question at Nick Kotik and John Pippy, but I'll offer it to you as well: What have you done for us in the past three years? I'll let you respond if you wish.

  6. Right off the top of my head?

    Last year, Ed Rendell wanted to raise income taxes. Myself and other southwestern PA representatives stood up to a governor of our own party and said "no way". Sometimes stopping things out constituents don't want is part of our job.

  7. That's it? I thought for sure you had a slam dunk with helping parts of your district secure H20 loans and grants to build sewer lines.

    The point, though, is that West Virginia has a part-time legislature with about half the number of representatives. They meeting several times a year, and then go back to their regular jobs when they're not in session. They don't have the budget deadlocks and, in many ways, West Virginia is more progressive than our state...

    Cameras in the courtroom, no death penalty, motorcycle helmet laws... and most importantly, there are 10 million municipalities in the state.