First it was the rather grim diagnosis for Democratic stalwart Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy (D-MA) who was diagnosed with a brain tumor which will likely be terminal.
And now, we have the conviction on all counts of corruption charges of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), the longest serving Republican in the history of the Senate. Stevens made a fundamental mistake: he let his ego get in the way, and insisted on testifying in what had been a rather weak case against him until he took the stand and convicted himself. Stevens, whose personality (the word "prick" comes to mind) has been enormously helpful at bullying his way into billions of dollars in sweetheart federal porkbarrel spending for Alaska over the years, helped convince a Washington, DC jury to find him guilty of various counts of taking unreported goodies from his friends at oil and construction concern Veco.
The possibilities of what happens next are fascinating. Stevens himself will, of course, hubristically head back to Alaska to campaign. If he loses, as both divine and Earthly justice dictate he should, then former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich will assume the seat held by Stevens since 1968. If he wins, and then refuses to resign, he may well be expelled by the Senate itself, for whom being convicted of a felony is... a problem. Of course, he's also 84 years old, and actuarially, may not live out his six year term anyway... who knows?
In the event of a resignation or expulsion or there is a vacancy in his seat for any reason, his replacement would be selected by... Governor Sarah Palin. Since she's busy stabbing Sen. John McCain in the back on a regular basis anyway, she may want to consider finishing the job and suggest that she'd name herself to replace Stevens in the event he wins (and she doesn't!)... you know, if "Uncle Ted kind of has to step down... in light of that conviction and possible jail thing." Macchiavellian? You betcha! But it may be the only way the GOP holds the seat in its quest to hold off the Dems from acquiring an obstruction proof 60 seats (why the Republicans want to hold them off remains interesting; if recent history is any judge, the Dems will largely manage to stop themselves from doing anything constructive.)