In an interesting attempt to put the best possible spin on Robert Torricelli's decision to retire, the New York Times is forced to employ a few rhetorical tricks in this editorial. The Times hates Torricelli, but the prospect of a once-safe Democratic seat falling to the Republicans appalls them, and they pull out all the stops to search for a "good" (ie liberal) replacement.
Much of the speculation yesterday focused on the implications of Mr. Torricelli's decision for the New Jersey Democratic Party and for the balance of power in the United States Senate, where Democrats hold a one-vote margin. These are intriguing questions. But they are secondary to the larger issue of how to give New Jersey's voters a competitive race. Several things must happen to make that possible. The Democrats, led by Gov. James McGreevey, must move quickly to find a credible replacement. The courts must then expeditiously approve the ballot substitution, which in turn will clear the way for an energetic one-month campaign that, with Senator Torricelli out of the picture, can focus tightly on loftier issues than his seamy behavior.
It's interesting to note the quiet desperation in the editorial"we have to find a replacement as soon as possible!"that was lacking when New Jersey GOP candidates such as Donald DeFrancesco and James Treffinger had to end their campaigns prematurely.
As the editorial does point out, however, the primary responsibility for the debacle lies with the Democratic Party, who should have denied support for Torricelli when it was apparent that he was tainted, but the Democrats (under the shady leadership of Terry McAuliffe) seem to have trouble policing their members for ethical lapses. Now the chickens have come home to roost, and Torricelli has laid an egg for the Democrats in their quest to maintain control of the senate.