I haven't posted about politics much.
Mostly that's because I haven't posted about anything much lately. But also it's because it's really hard to add anything to the millions of words posted daily by the blogosphere. And, honestly, do you want to know what I think about Sarah Palin or the bailout?
But here's a question that came up recently, and that I haven't seen discussed: which elderly US Senators are likely to affect the composition of the US Senate by dropping dead in the next couple of years?
(Yes, this is rather morbid. We've all been sick this week, remember?)
Short version: Akaka and Inouye, both of Hawaii. Both are 84 years old; both seem in robust good health at the moment but, well, 84 years old. And Hawaii has a Republican governor, and will until at least January 2011.
See, the Seventeenth Amendment says that dead Senators get replaced by their governors. (The state legislature can arrange for interim elections, but most of them don't.) So it's a question not just of age, but of party affiliation. So while there are several senators older than the Hawaii duo, Byrd (D-NJ, 90 years old), Stevens (R-AL, 84) and Lautenberg (D-NJ, 84) all come from states with governors of their same party.
Hawaii's governor is Linda Lingle, one of the (to me) more interesting and less objectionable Republican governors. Lingle is sort of the anti-Palin: smart, dull, competent, divorced, childless and Jewish. She's incredibly popular in Hawaii, and she's also term-limited -- she'll have to leave office in two years. So if a Senate seat opens up, she's likely to appoint herself.
Any other candidates? Well, going down the list to the next few youngest Senators, John Warner (81) and Pete Domenici (76) are retiring and Ted Kennedy (76) is a Democrat in a state with a Democratic Senator. So the next good bet is probably Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican in a state with a Democratic governor (you may remember Ed Rendell from this summer's primaries). Other, more remote possibilities would include Jim Bunning of Kentucky (76, Republican with a Democratic governor) and Dianne Feinstein of California (75, Democrat with a Republican governor).
-- Back when I was a young wonk-wannabe, this is the sort of question that would have me up past midnight with the Almanac of American Politics. Do they even make that any more? Ahh, no doubt they do -- people are conservative, and there's something very reassuring about that fat solid volume. But today, having asked myself the question, I was able to answer it in a minute or two online. It's a new world, and we're still figuring out what to do with it.