I caught the news from Stateside that the two Senators, Dowd of Connecticut and Dorgan of North Dakota, announced that they wouldn’t run for re-election. For my non-American readers–and maybe for some of the Americans!–the Senate is one of the two houses of Congress. In the Senate each state gets two Senators regardless of population. Because of this structure and some really bizarre internal rules, the United States Senate is probably one of the least democratic and most powerful legislative bodies in the democratic world.
The American press spin has these retirements as being bad for the Democrats and President Obama. The Republican (opposition) Party spin on the news is that it’s “catastrophic”.
This is why I get turned off to politics.
Anyone who follows things about Washington knows that Senator Dodd of Connecticut was closely tied to several financial crisis scandals, including AIG and Countrywide. (What used to pass as mere corporate names now are ably used also in the language of scandals.) Early polling had him way down against a presumptive Republican challenger, and a lot of Democrats felt he was too close to the companies whose names are, like I said, scandal.
So that was Dog bites Man news.
The North Dakota one equally doesn’t seem to hold much significance. Senator Dorgan had served in Congress at least since the 1980’s, and, you know, sometimes it’s time for people to quit and retire. They aren’t all obligated to hang on in there until the undertaker carries them out, even if it is called the Senate. (The name “Senate” derived from the Latin, “senex”, for old person.)
With unemployment at 10% and a whole slew of problems that the President inherited from the Bush Administration, it is hard to see how 2010 would be an easy year for the Democrats. They are probably going to lose seats, which is not unusual for the governing party in a mid-term election.
So if it becomes a 58-42 Senate for the next Congress, I’m not sure how that’s so Earth shattering.
There is a lot of time between now and November.
As has been the case for the last 20 years at least, the Republicans are offering nothing except that they aren’t the Democrats. I think it’s been less and less effective as the years have gone on, which is why now in recent times they resort to screamers and people who carry guns to public meetings for no good reason.