Really now, with the remote possible exception of being Paris Hilton, is there a cushier job than serving as a United States senator?
You only work three days a week. People bow and scrape before you. You get to take junkets all ove the word on the taxpayer dime. You get a nice office. And for all practical purposes once you’re elected, unless you get caught in a bathroom stall acting randy, you’re pretty much set for life in the job.
And yet, it all just too terribly too much work for Florida junior (in more ways than one) Sen. Mel Martinez, who announced this week, he was pulling a Palin and walking away from from Washington before his first term had even ended.
Martinez had said a few months ago he wouldn’t run for a second term in 2010, complaining about having to fly back and forth from Florida to Washington, as if he never realized there was a commute involved when he first sought the senate gig back in 2004. Cue the violin strings.
Okay, fair enough I suppose. Perhaps the thought of having to sit next to the smarmy likes of Arizona’s Jon Kyl, or that crazy nut, South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, was enough to send Martinez packing.
Still, Martinez also knew that when he ran for office it was for a six year term. When his constituents voted for him, it was with the expectation he would honor the commitment to serve a full six years. And he welshed on the deal.
This isn’t so much about politics as simple good manners. You could probably make a case that there are few honors in public service more coveted than serving as a United States senator, even given a workload that would barely tire Maynard G. Krebs.
The rumor mill is already speculating Florida Gov. Charlie Crist would do well to appoint one of his predecessors, Bob Martinez to keep the seat warm until Crist can get elected to the job himself next year. That only makes sense and it would be a savvy appointment.
Now in his early 70s, Bob Martinez represents no political threat to pursue the job himself. He knows Washington, having served in a number of capacities over the years, including a stint as drug czar. And Crist could appoint an Hispanic to replace an Hispanic. It’s a win-win for Crist.
However if you are Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who lost the senate primary fight with Mel Martinez in 2004, or Betty Castor, the Democratic Party senate candidate who lost to Martinez in the general election, you have to feel a bit stiffed.
If Mel Martinez wasn’t all that crazy about being a senator, about fulfilling his obligations, why did he even bother to run in the first place? His cutting and running before his term ended is a disservice to his party, a slap in the face to the many Floridians who supported him and an embarrassment to the Cuban-American community who so rightfully took pride in seeing one of their own become the first member of the United States Senate, only to have him quit on them.
To be sure, it is not easy for Republicans who held power for so long to now find themselves as back-benchers. But that’s politics. That’s life.
As for Mel Martinez, who stumble-bummed his way through his senate tenure, he’ll probably be best remembered that when the going got tough, Mel Martinez ran away and shafted his party, his supporters and his state.