Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why not Blanche?

Chait thinks liberals should leave Blanche Lincoln alone:
I don't quite get why Lincoln is facing a primary challenger at all. I understand the general principle of fielding primary challengers to force Democrats to accept some political risk for the sake of enacting progressive policies. I just don't get why Lincoln is the target. I'm not an enormous fan of hers -- I'm fairly proud of my 2006 column ridiculing her incoherent views on fiscal policy -- but she does indeed hail from a very conservative state.
I'm not impervious to this logic. If Lincoln's the best candidate who can win, then I say leave her alone. But Chait misses an important fact: she's highly unlikely to win. Nate Silver gives her a 4% chance against the most likely Republican candidate, John Boozman. If Lincoln were tied or even a modest underdog against Boozman, he'd be right. But she's almost a certain loser, and she evidently intends to lose in a dispiriting fit of triangulation. Which means we're most likely in a Lion In Winter-style situation, as in this (frequently misquoted) part from the play/film (courtesy of IMDB):
Prince Richard: [the sons - in the dungeon - think they hear Henry approach] He's here. He'll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn't going to see me beg.
Prince Geoffrey: My you chivalric fool... as if the way one fell down mattered.
Prince Richard: When the fall is all there is, it matters.
I really don't see any downside to trying to dump Lincoln. She did vote for health care reform, this is true. But she has even less of a chance of winning than Mark Halter, and Halter has more of a chance of being a wild card--younger, more passionate, more principled, and something resembling a real Democrat--instead of a Clintonian anachronism like Blanche. It's going to be a strange new world next Congress, with the most obvious avatars of Clintonism--namely Bayh and Lincoln--out of the picture. It will be interesting. But Halter is, to my mind, a smart choice for progressives.

A smarter choice, in any event, than dumping Arlen Specter, which seems unlikely to happen at this point. I like Joe Sestak just fine, but he seems to have miscalculated in taking on this contest instead of running for governor, which would have suited him better. Specter's record this Congress has given progressives little to complain about, and Sestak's emails have become less compelling over the past few months, mostly focusing on Specter's previous Republicanism that seems ages old at this point. Plus, the old guy's been doing better in the polls in the past few months. I have no particular love for Specter and would prefer Sestak to win it, all things being equal, but then again they never are. At the very least, his continued presence in the Senate will really irritate the Erick Ericksons of the world for a few more years.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.