Maybe it’s a small omission that triggered a personal peeve, or maybe it’s a glimpse of a more profound problem, but something bothered me about this item from Ted Nesi’s weekly Saturday column:
It will be nearly two years before we find out who wins the Maryland U.S. Senate seat being given up by Barbara Mikulski, but we already know one winner: Jack Reed. That’s because the retirements of both Mikulski and California’s Barbara Boxer mean come 2017 Reed will be the 7th most senior Democrat in the U.S. Senate, where seniority is the coin of the realm. It’s possible Reed could ascend even further up the ranks before long, since the terms of 74-year-old Patrick Leahy and 75-year-old Harry Reid both expire in 2016, with 81-year-old Dianne Feinstein close behind in 2018. It’s conceivable Reed, who turned 65 last fall, could someday be the most senior senator of all; if he retires at the same age as the late T.F. Green, Reed will be in the Senate until 2043.
Notice the possibility that isn’t mentioned anywhere in that blurb?
Look, we all know Rhode Island has nearly reached the point that democracy is a game of pretend. Arguably, it’s already there for the state’s federal seats. But shouldn’t political journalists be among those pretending? Behaving as if a politician’s seat is permanent goes a long way toward discouraging competition even to begin.