Joe Sestak for President
In horse racing they put weight on the best horses to make the race closer. And in this race, Joe Sestak was carrying a lot of weight. But almost all of it was poundage he brought with him and stuffed in his own saddlebag.
His voting record of bailouts, special interest spending, government-run healthcare and on cap-and-trade was among the most liberal in Congress. It was far out of step with what most Americans, let alone most Pennsylvanians, wanted.
The tidal wave of Republican victories last night was a shot to the heart of the Obama governing agenda. It was a complete repudiation of the sort arrogance that the Democratic leadership in Washington has shown these last 20 months.
To his credit, Joe Sestak never came across as arrogant. He was and is, if nothing else, a genuine and earnest believer in the good that government can and should do for people. He's a government guy and has been his whole life.
His decision to challenge Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary made him few new friends in the Democratic establishment but it won him the hearts of rank and file Democrats across the state. He helped expose Specter for what he was, a wiley careerist who would change parties like coats in order to hang on to his job.
Ed Rendell said Joe was going to "get killed." But it was he who did the killing, putting an end to Specter's 30-year Senate career. (Of course, Pat Toomey would have done the same thing if Specter had stayed a Republican.) In beating the Republican turned Democrat, Sestak gave the party it's only real shot at holding that seat in the Senate. But that shot ended up costing the party, at least one congressional seat. Joe gambled for himself and helped lose two seats in the GOP wave.
Where he goes from here is anybody's guess. Here's mine:
Last night he said:
If someone said to me, ‘Start it all over again, if you know how the ending was going to be, start that year and a half again,’ I’d do it even knowing the end. In a heartbeat,” he said. “I can’t even begin to tell you what I learned. Pennsylvanians — they’re something. They care, they desire to believe again and they love America. And that memory, the last year and a half is going to find a home inside of me in the grandest sepulcher of all — the heart of the Pennsylvanian.”But let's face it, Joe is not a Pennsylvanian any more than Hillary Clinton is a New Yorker. Sure, he was born here, but his own heart is in Virginia and/or Washington D.C.
I'm not saying he couldn't have represented the state's interests in Washington. I'm saying that his interests have always been far less parochial than the average congressman or senator. He was a quick study, and whatever his limitations were as a speaker, he overcame them, with his resume and his work ethic.
Wherever, he ends up - in that big job Bill Clinton kinda' sorta' offered him, or some other big job, you can bet it will be a "big job." Guys like Joe Sestak, take a fall, land on their feet and start running again. Which is why five years from now, I would not be at all surprised (in fact, I fully expect) to see him on TV somewhere announcing his candidacy for President of the United States.
Richard Nixon lost the governorship of California, famously telling reporters that they wouldn't have him to "kick around anymore" before becoming president in 1968. If he could do it, Joe could.
Last night he said, "I can't even begin to tell you what I've learned" during this campaign. (One thing he learned is who Joe Shumpeter is, because I told him.) He is not one to waste such experience.
For now, as he also said last night, "It's Alex Time." But guys like Joe weren't born to be stay-at-home dads. He'll be back very soon, strategically working some angle that puts him on the road to achieve his ultimate goal. I say it's the Oval Office. And I dare anybody to tell me I'm wrong.