Arlen Specter and the Entitlement of Incumbency
by Todd Beeton, Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 05:04:40 PM EDT
David Sirota has a good post over at Open Left about the disgusting sense of entitlement that infects incumbents of both parties. Indeed, Arlen Specter's entire switch was premised upon the same "what do you mean I have to face the voters to even qualify to run again?" arrogance that characterized Joe Lieberman three years ago. Of course, Lieberman was able to squirrel out of his loss in the Democratic Party, Specter is not so lucky. To Specter, Lieberman and, as we saw last night on Rachel Maddow, Lincoln Chaffee, primary challenges are some unfair quirk of the system rather than a function of the very democracy that elected them in the first place.
Here was Chaffee from Rachel's interview last night:
"...the tremendously successful fundraising juggernaut that pours the money into these primary races against moderate Republicans in particular. I saw it happen to me in 2006, largely responsible for my loss in the general election...this is America, anybody can run for office. It's the money that pours in that really makes these primaries destructive...Primaries run-up your negatives and they cost you money."
Sirota slams him:
These incumbents, whether Chafee, Specter or Joe Lieberman, genuinely feel it is some sort of awful affront to democracy when they draw well-funded primary challenges who can make a primary election a genuine contest, even though the definition of democracy is contested elections.** I mean, Chafee is literally complaining that "primaries cost you money" - as if it's awful that an incumbent should have to deal with a primary. And yet, we're supposed to simultaneously believe it's perfectly fine for an incumbent to leverage their office and votes to raise truckloads of special interest cash that then lets them grossly outspend any primary challengers who come their way.
This built-in sense of entitlement among the elected establishment is, of course, not specific to any one party. In fact it's rampant in the Democratic Party. It's the same bullshit that led Debbi Wasserman Shulz to refuse to actively campaign against her Republican friends who (mis-)represent their South Florida districts and it's the same attitude that is behind Ed Rendell's arrogant declarations that Arlen Specter will run unopposed in next year's Democratic primary.
"Well, I think that Arlen will probably wind up running unopposed, or without a serious challenger," said Rendell. "Look, the President of the United States has already endorsed Arlen, the Vice President of the United States has. Everyone knows Arlen and I are personal friends, go back to when he hired me as an assistant district attorney without asking me what party I belonged to. I think every major Democrat is gonna be for Arlen. And I think he's got a lot of inherent support with Democrats and independents all across the state."
Well, Arlen Specter fled to the Democratic Party but with shit like this, it's no wonder that while there's an exodus from the Republican Party, it's not exactly accruing to the benefit of Democrats. And quite frankly, Rendell's comments only bolster the case FOR a primary challenge. Certainly I'm now even more determined than ever to both fund a Democratic challenger to Specter and withhold any and all support for the DSCC if they do anything to support Specter prior to the primary.
I don't mind people in the party welcoming Specter with open arms, what I do mind is their shutting down a process by which the voters get to say who their Senator is as opposed to Specter's political friends, especially considering Specter's open opposition to EFCA yesterday and his vote against the president's budget today. Unlike yesterday, Arlen Specter today said today that he welcomes "all comers in the Democratic primary and the general election." Let's give it to him.