Donna Brazile brought on howls of derision from George Will and Sam Donaldson on ABC’s This Week for her suggesting that Illinois Democrats didn’t want to hold a special election for the open senate seat simply because it was expensive. Yes, democracy and elections do cost money. But of course the real reason for denying Illinois its second senator in a timely fashion is that it raises the possibility of a Republican win. And that simply won’t do for Brazile and her fellow Democrats.
Over time Brazile’s contempt for democracy may become more than a joke. As Blago’s impeachment proceeding drags on and on, the drumbeat will continue: why won’t the Democrats let Illinois voters pick a Senator? And it places the Obama administration in a sticky spot. How long can they simply defer to the party bosses in the President-elect’s former state? At some point it becomes painfully obvious that Obama is (once again), deferring to the party machine rather than insisting on real reform and that famed “bottom up” democracy.
Republicans in Congress can certainly offer to “help” by offering federal funds — ’tis the season for bailouts after all — for federal elections in 2009. And Republicans will continue to press the point that once again the Illinois Democratic machine talks a good game but never cleans up its act.
Coupled with the shenanigans in Delaware and New York, it is quite a splash of cold water in the faces of those expecting something more changey in the era of Obama. As Rich Lowry noted,”If the recent Senate maneuverings are any indication, the ‘new politics’ of the Obama Democrats is convenient cover while they take care of their own as the powerful have always done down through the ages.” We’ll see in the weeks and months ahead whether voters share Brazile’s disdain for elections. Unfortunately for the Illinois Democrats, they’ll be no getting around the one in 2010.