Sen. Robert Byrd died this morning.
Liberal sites will be praising Byrd for his long service and his honored place within the Democratic Party. Libertarian blogs will castigate him for his legacy of wasteful pork. Conservative blogs of a more partisan bent will find a way to work in his unsavory youthful associations. Political blogs will speculate on successors.
This blog simply notes that there is something a little unsettling about contemplating elected officials such as Byrd, John Dingell, Thurmond, Inouye, Morgenthau, and others who serve for more than four--or five--decades. At some point, the usual fictions in which we garb power-seekers to make them more legitimate seem a little threadbare. Ceteris paribus, in what sense are re-election campaigns after the third decade of service more competitive than Soviet elections? Consider what it took to unseat Ted Stevens, after all. Thus, in celebrating Byrd's longevity and tenure in office, I am not sure that the superficial commentariat is actually celebrating democracy.