19 May 2010

Short Term Memory Loss

Much stupidity has been shuffled around following this Tuesday's primaries. First, there was that idiot Sargent who writes for the Post opining that Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln were facing challenges "from the left."


It's perhaps true that those two incumbents are facing challenges from the left of their own positions, but that hardly qualifies as "the left" -- or what little we have of it -- in the United States.

Then, post-election, the media are tripping over themselves to create a story of "anti-incumbent anger." I'm trying to remember where exactly I read the howler headline about the "end of the era of the incumbent advantage," but it was at that point that I realized someone had been sniffing far too much glue as he or she tried to make deadline. Let's take a closer look at a few of the races, starting in Pennsylvania.

Arlen Specter is best remembered as a Republican. He was running in the Democratic primary this year because he switched parties in the face of a strong challenge from the right wing of the Republican Party. Registered Democrats tend to be a bit more party-loyalty oriented than the general populace, so it's hardly an anti-incumbent sentiment to reject a politician who for all but the last two years of his political career was in the opposition.

Parsing Rand Paul's victory in Kentucky should take about ten seconds for anyone who doesn't have papers to sell or air time to fill. You could start with the fact that Paul wasn't running against an incumbent. That should actually end the conversation. If it doesn't, and you feel like continuing a conversation with someone who has a fragile grip on consciousness, then you may need to go to tactic b: many Republican Party activists are right wing kooks. They are electing a fringe candidate who appeals to those divorced from reality, but that's no surprise -- Rand's father, Ron Paul, has been serving, off and on, in the very organization he despises for something like thirty years. But hey, I understand, sometimes you need to try to use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house, but Paul has been relatively unsuccessful at doing so much as removing a loose floorboard. Yet, voters continue to send him back to his government paycheck so he can continue not to do much about it.

Sure, libertarians are easy targets, since they're the biggest freeloaders in the history of mankind, stumbling through life with blinders on, pretending they're little atomistic islands rather than part of complex interconnected systems that actually do affect one another. However, it might be useful to see how much the Tea Party can do come November. Winning your closed primary is one thing, but winning a general election full of other parties and independents is quite another. Will crazy sell to more than a niche market?

I know it's difficult in this day and age to present the news without developing a storyline -- especially a real dire one -- but these primaries have not shown that incumbents are in danger in November. What they've shown is that in a few cases -- all of which are out of the ordinary -- incumbents have had to fight to win their primaries, and some have failed to do so.

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