Friday, August 21, 2009

A Jaw-Dropper of a Quote

I was reading the Sun today (hey...Mini-Monster at LeLacheur? I already love it) while obeying my strict diet of Espresso pizza and Coke, when I saw a quote that nearly made me drop my food back onto my plate:

"We just changed the law in 2004 and here we are changing it five years later. I'd have to take a look at it more closely," Nangle said. "I probably would be inclined to support it if that's the the wish of the esteemed senator. Maybe we owe it to the guy." (Bold and italics are mine, and the speaker of course is Rep. David Nangle of Lowell).

For anyone not following the issue, the question is whether Beacon Hill should reverse its action from 2004 (when a certain, uh...Republican was in power) which took away the Governor's power to fill a Senate vacancy. The new law required a special election within 145-160 days of the vacancy creation.

Now that Ted Kennedy may leave the Senate, there are some potential succession issues, and Kennedy is requesting a change to the rules that would allow Gov. Patrick to appoint a Democratic successor without one of those pesky democratic things like an election.

I'll admit that in Nangle's quote, he hedges around the issue pretty deftly, but the last two sentences REALLY don't sit well with me.

Here's why: The democratic political system shouldn't be about a personality cult. I don't care what anyone's last name is, this country doesn't have a monarchy and we don't have royals who can trump laws. We certainly don't owe someone who purports be a public *servant* immediate obeisance and kowtowing to desires that get in the way of written laws.

It doesn't -- and shouldn't -- matter what Ted Kennedy wants. This isn't -- and shouldn't -- be about Ted Kennedy.

If appointments are the right way to go, so be it. And if special elections are the right way to go, so be it. But to nakedly move the goalposts during the game based on whichever side is leading the State seems like a total subversion of everything I thought I learned in Civics 101. And to say that the desires of one man who has profited tremendously in every sense of the word from his many years in the U.S. Senate should trump our entire democratic process is to make an absolute mockery of the entire system.

4 comments:

kad barma said...

Amen. This one, like 6 City Councillors voting to cancel a primary election, is so wrong on so many levels that it's tough to even know where to begin talking about it.

Renee said...

I was reading Dan Kennedy's Media Nation his thoughts and I tend to agree. Five years ago our legislature made a partisan law. While it may also seem partisan now Kennedy's proposal seems to be sound and fair as a matter of good law.

"Kennedy's idea is to choose a person who would make a personal pledge not to run in the special election. The Herald observes that Romney had proposed a similar provision only to get shot down. But that's no reason not to adopt a good idea now. And I'll go one better. Assuming there isn't some constitutional reason not to do it, why not write the no-run requirement directly into the Kennedy proposal and give it the force of law?"

C R Krieger said...

The key thing to remember is that this isn't really about Senator Kennedy, except in terms of his vision for Health Care Reform (Reform of Insurance vs Reform of Delivery, IMHO).  This is all about Cloture.

Renee may well be correct about the proposal being sound and fair as a matter of law, but it is brought before us because of Cloture.

In the vagaries of politics, the loss of a Democratic Senator, say Senator Byrd of WV, would deny Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the needed 60 votes to cut off debate.  This is a bill to get around that problem in one instance.

So, it is all about the long run.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Englander said...

Guys,

Thanks much for adding those ideas into the discussion. As far as the rightness or wrongness of the decision, or the real purpose behind the political maneuvering, the one point I just want to emphasize to the high heavens is that the wishes and whims of ANY one individual -- regardless of his last name or his position -- shouldn't be the reasoning behind legal changes like this..

best,
gp