Dear Big Daddy,
If Obama’s Senate seat is worth half a million, what would Dianne Feinstein’s seat go for if she resigns in 2010 to run for governor?
–Curious in Cupertino
Ah, Chicago-style politics. Not only is that phrase descriptive almost to the point of being redundant—sort of like “malignant-style tumor”—it’s also the source of one of my favorite sayings: “If absolute power corrupts absolutely, then even the relatively meager power of the Illinois governorship does a pretty darn tootin’ job of it if you have hair like a Lego person and are kind of an idjit in the first place.”
What, you don’t believe that’s a real saying? Well, er, you don’t know your Chicago-style politics, my friend. And another thing I know is that the GOP’s guilt-by-association campaign against is-he-President-yet Obama is about to kick into a new gear. If Rev. Wright was a crazy old uncle and Bill Ayers was just a guy in the neighborhood, we’re guessing Rod Blagojevich is gonna be “some creep who was always hanging out the hair salon near my townhouse.” If Obama really wanted to keep his squeaky-clean reputation through a lifetime of politics, he really ought to have come through a more pristine farm team. Say, New Orleans.
None of which answers your real question about the market value of a Golden State US Senate seat. Now it’s hard to assign value to something that comes on the market about as often as that married co-worker you’ve had a crush on since the Deukmejian administration. One method would be to compare the population-per-senator ratio in different states—19 million per in California, six million per in Illinois, that’s one mitt short of a softball team poor Tom Daschle used to represent in South Dakota (and I gotta say, either the population of people named Dakota now outnumbers that of folks actually living in those states, or I go to too many strip clubs).
Anyhoo, another way would be to look at it would be to ask if the recession is going to hurt the market for collectibles. I mean, an old toothbrush has a value below zero—unless it was once used by Abe Lincoln or Snoop Dogg, in which case someone even dumber than Blagojevich will shell out the price of a Mercedes for it. By that measure, the value of the Senate seat that Barack Obama once kind of almost sat in for a moment on his way to bigger things ought to fetch a prize about the size of our state’s budget deficit.
But a more accurate way to look at this may be to picture DiFi and Schatzi as trapeze artists, staring at each other across an open, net-less pit hundreds of feet across and hundreds more down. She’s on a platform marked “Senator,” he’s on one that reads “Governor,” and the idea is for them to switch places without the crowd seeing the extra wires needed to get their old, out of shape butts from one side to the other.
What, you thought they were actually talking about infrastructure on her many visits to the dome? Well, I can’t say that they weren’t. But if you’re conspiracy minded, she also may have been measuring the drapes while letting Arnold know if they’ll be room for all his bodybuilding photos in those drafty digs on Capitol Hill. Except Feinstein may have the firmer figurative abs in this equation. With pretty boy candidates Villaraigosa and Newsom likely done in by their zipper problems (in Gavin’s case, by the lack of one over his mouth), word on L street is that the Horseshoe is DiFi’s for the taking. It’s running for the job that seems to be the real problem with her. Celebrity aside, Arnold may have the harder road here—and should be the one paying the “bleepin’ golden” price tag.
Come Wednesday, November 3, 2010, we will still have our local version of that peculiarly American tradition called “the transition.” So the real question is, could Arnie use that time to pull a Cheney and appoint himself to Feinstein’s seat? I say we the people should let him do it…for a cool $100 million.