Published September 24, 2010
Having been denied her party’s nomination for another term, United States Sen. Lisa Murkowski has embarked on an uphill, nearly impossible bid to keep her seat.
These are the facts. The only way Sen. Murkowski can win another term is for a plurality of the voters in Alaska to write in her name on the November ballot, which is already a dubious proposition. She will have to pull votes away from the Republican nominee, Joe Miller, who just beat her in the GOP primary. And she’ll have to pull votes away from Democrat Scott McAdams, whose support comes from people who already decided they weren’t voting for her. And Murkowski just isn’t that easy to spell.
The latest survey by pollster Scott Rasmussen finds Murkowski tied for second-place with McAdams at 25 percent. Miller, who has the backing of former Gov. Sarah Palin, current Gov. Scott Parnell, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Tea Party movement, is ahead, winning the support of 42 percent of the likely voters queried.
Murkowski’s decision to run as a write in candidate, after promising, while she was ahead in the polls that she would respect the wishes of the voters, is an angry and petulant act that shows utter contempt for the democratic process. It’s a not at all graceful attempt to change the rules of the game -- after it has begun. But the big thing is that it represents, in the global sense, just what it is about the political class in Washington that has so many Americans angry and wanting real change in their government. It's an inversion of the idea of noblesse oblige -- nobility obliges – in that, having had the voters of her party say they prefer to have someone else represent them in the U.S. Senate she refuses to get out of the way. Marie Antoinette, call your office.
A new radio spot by the organization Let Freedom Ring! presents the situation as a sort of modern-day fairy tale hammers this point home unsubtly but quite nicely. Here's the script:
Once upon a time in Alaska there lived a royal family with a King named Frank. One day, King Frank gave his daughter Lisa a very special present: a Senate seat. The people were not so happy that King Frank gave her the Senate seat because really, it wasn't his to give away. But they were polite people, and they let Princess Lisa keep it for a while. Then the People decided that Lisa had kept it long enough. But Lisa was outraged... She wanted to keep the people's seat. Cue the voice of a bratty little girl screaming: It's mine. It's mine Daddy gave it to me!" Mine mine mine!"You can hear the whole spot for yourself on the Web at -- It’s Not Your Seat, Lisa – but you get the idea.
Now, in the interests of full disclosure, the group producing this ad is one with which I am affiliated. I did not know the spot was in the works and did not hear it until it was already in the can. I also don’t know a thing about how they intend to use it other than they plan to put it on the radio in Alaska.
What I do know is that it is clever and, more to the point underscores in a humorous way part of the reason that so many voters are so angry at the politicians in Washington, not just Lisa Murkowski.
Another verse in the same song is about Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter who, it was told to me by knowledgeable Senate insiders, explained to his senate colleagues that his decision to change parties was based not on principle but on his recognition that he could only be re-elected as a Democrat.
There are others in the Senate – believe me – who think the country just cannot get along without them and their leadership. Well, if the Senate can still do its business without Daniel Webster and Henry Clay and Arthur Vandenberg and Harry Truman and Charles Sumner and Henry Cabot Lodge and Margaret Chase Smith it should be pretty clear that it can get along without most or all the current crop as well.
What Murkowski is trying to do is, in the political science sense of the terms, just about as undemocratic and unrepublican as one can get. The U.S. Senate, while modeled on the English House of Lords, isn’t a hereditary body composed of royalty. And its seats aren’t meant to be hand-me-downs.
Peter Roff is contributing editor, U.S. New & World Report, senior fellow Institute for Liberty and Let Freedom Ring. He is a former senior political writer for United Press International.
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