Thursday, September 14, 2006

Everything But The Party

It took until yesterday afternoon for the results of many of Tuesday's PARTY PRIMARY elections to be tallied and announced. So it wasn't until today's papers that the news of William Donald Schaeffer's loss in the Maryland Comptroller's race was reported and analyzed.

Unfortunately, at least as far as the NYT and the Washington Post are concerned, Schaeffer's lost can mainly be explained on the basis of his advanced age (84), his excess of lifelong "candor" finally catching up to him, and in this race in particular, an untimely amount of mud-slinging engaged in by the colorful Schaeffer and one of his main opponents. According to this analysis, with Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens calling Schaeffer "old" and Schaeffer calling Owens "Old Mother Hubbard" and "fat", voters tuned them out and opted for the under-stated Maryland House Delegate Peter Franchot from Montgomery County.

This is the superfilous fair we've come to expect from professional journalism. Elections are about style, personality, essentially what the late political scientist V.O. Key referred to as "issue-less politics".

It's unclear to me why seemingly well-educated, experienced members of the press corps, or at least their bosses, fail to catch the fact that Schaeffer (like Lieberman last month) was defeated in a PARTY PRIMARY. That is, the election he lost was among Democratic Party Voters. Hmmmm. Why might that be? Maybe because the people who vote in Democratic Party Primaries are actually Democratic voters. And maybe it was Democratic voters that had wisened up--however long after the fact--and realized that Schaeffer wasn't one of them, and that Schaeffer was moreover an active impediment to the Democratic Party and in opposition to its progressive goals. Presented with a progressive alternative in Peter Franchot, progressive voters turned out the conservative Schaeffer.

But I guess picking up on this is too much to ask of our beleagured print media.

On a secondary note, we can see in the Comptroller's race an additional similarity to the Lieberman-Lamont race last month. Although Schaeffer, and his apologists, claim the ousted "political legend" valued public service for its ability to allow him to "help the people", a Washington Post article* did catch a very telling Schaeffer remark about the race. Referring to who he assumed was his main rival, Owens, Schaeffer bemoaned the fact that one of his friends had "turned on" him. Here is the incumbent's entitlement claim. Since and as long as he wants to hold the office, no one should run against him. The office belongs to him until he decides to gracefully step down. Once he wins his own election, he shouldn't have to engage in any more until he decides to retire (or dies in office). This was Lieberman's chant. Fortunately, at age 84, Schaeffer doesn't appear interested in forming a Maryland for Schaeffer, "independent Democrat" ticket. He is apparently suffering from power withdrawal however, as he already is making noices about running for mayor of Ocean City, as it's name suggests, a tourist, beachy town on Maryland's eastern shore where the Maryland Donald owns a condo.

*There is an additional Post article on the race but it isn't in the paper's on-line edition.

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