Jack Reed and Political Journalism


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.

  • brassband

    I don’t have anything against Sen. Reed, but whenever I hear someone going on about how wonderful he is, I ask a simple question; Could you tell me, please, on what one or two major pieces of legislation was he the author or lead sponsor? I’ve never found anyone who could identify any of his accomplishments in the U.S. Senate. Come to think of it, maybe that’s actually a point in his favor.

  • Benghazi!

    Hey, you whiners have your chance to prove the seat isn’t “permanent” every six years. Run someone more appealing than Meyer/Tingle/Tingle/Zaccaria and you might even get more than 35% of the vote for once.

  • George from Warwick

    Nesi is just recognizing that in Li’l Rhody our Senators are in fact elected for life. Rare exceptions like the bungling Linc Chafee only come along once in a lifetime

    Before the ’14 election some political web site — I forget which one — ranked every senator up for election by most-to-least vulnerable. Reed’s was ranked the single safest seat

    Reed knows this — why do you think he turned down an offer to be SecDef for a few years, which would have required him to give up his senator-for-life job ??