January 28, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Appointed senators: vulnerable?

President Obama is the first sitting senator to be elected president since John Kennedy in 1960, and he has brought along three of his colleagues with him into the Executive Branch. It's an extraordinary situation in which four Senate vacancies have been created. The Washington Post reports that Republican strategists are optimistic about their chances of regaining three of those seats in the next election. Here are the seats in question, with the new "replacement" senators and their better-known predecessors:

The choice of Kirsten Gillibrand (a conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat from rural upstate New York) dismayed urban liberals who hoped that Caroline Kennedy would carry forth her family's banner. "Sweet Caroline" withdrew abruptly earlier this week, possibly because of rumors reported by Bill O'Reilly that she had had an affair. Too bad. The Post article mentions that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is proposing a constitutional amendment to require a prompt popular election for replacement U.S. senators. We can call it the "Blagojevich Amendment."

This may be a bit macabre to consider, but two more senators -- Ted Kennedy (MA) and Robert Byrd (WV) -- are ailing and may not last much longer either. In that case, there would be six appointed senators at the same time, probably a record.

SCHIP follies

The gargantuan "economic stimulus" bill has attracted most of the public's attention lately, but George Will comments on a smaller, but no less sinister initiative: the reauthorization by Congress of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), for which funding was doubled. Will calls this "mission creep," and notes,

Grace-Marie Turner, a student of health-care policies, says this SCHIP expansion is sensible -- if your goal is quickly to get as many people on public coverage as possible and to have children grow up thinking that it is normal for them to get their health insurance from the government. That is the goal.

Stimulus dirty details

It has occurred to some people that it might be a good idea to actually look at what is in Obama's stimulus package before passing it. That's the idea behind readthestimulus.org; via Instapundit. Now seriously, how many people are actually going to spend more than a few minutes pondering what's actually in there?

All across the fruited plain, meanwhile, citizens are moaning, "Is this going to be on the final exam?"