Boxer: I'm out of here in 2016

Aaaaaand the first retirement notice for the 114th Senate* goes to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), who announced today that she will not run for re-election in 2016. This confirms the report from exactly a month ago that Boxer would hang up her gloves, and allow a “bottleneck” of younger Democrats a chance at the brass ring. Boxer will be a few days shy of 76 years old by Election Day in 2016, too old for a serious run at the presidency but practically the prime for a Senator looking for re-election. Her colleague from California, Dianne Feinstein, is seven years older but won’t come up for re-election for another four years. So why is Boxer retiring?  It takes viewers ninety painful seconds in this ultra-awkward pseudo-interview by her grandson Zach to get the answer that she wants to spend more time in California. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

And if you stick around another 67 seconds, you’ll get a chance to hear Boxer wax poetic, too … literally. No, really.

What should strike the viewers about this video is how empty it is of any real information, other than the announcement of her retirement — er, not-seeking-reelectionment, or something. Don’t call her retired! The lighting is terrible, which is surprising given the two-camera treatment for this production. No one apparently ever told her crew not to put the foreground of their shot in front of a brightly-lit background.

And what’s with the pseudo-interview, too? Even in a field known for self-serving contrivances, this plumbs a new egotistical low. Her grandson hangs in there, gamely trying to make the script work, but it looks simply ridiculous. Any number of reporters would have been happy to get this scoop, inside California or in Washington. Why not let them ask the questions, especially if Boxer writes the questions for her grandson only to claim that reporters would love to ask her those themselves? Is Boxer that terrified of the state or national media, most of which have given her fawning coverage throughout her 22 years in the Senate? The lighting’s not the only aspect that makes this look shady.

Republicans might start getting their hopes up for their chances to protect the Senate majority in 2016, but this really isn’t a big game-changer. Sure, this forces Democrats to defend an open seat that they could have easily held, but it’s in California and during a presidential election, too. The DSCC won’t even need to cut a check in California, unless the GOP gets a blockbuster candidate that can overcome all the structural disadvantages of the cycle.  The last Republican to win state-wide office there was Arnold Schwarzenegger, and look how well that turned out. Unless the GOP recruits another Hollywood A-lister Republican to run for the office, they don’t have a prayer of flipping Boxer’s seat, and everyone knows it. Bruce Willis, you’re our only hope … 

Update: Allahpundit hardest hit?

I kid, I kid … but that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea.

Update: I originally said that this was the first official retirement of the 114th Congress, but Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) announced his earlier. Thanks to Bitter Clinger in the comments for pointing that out. Boxer is the first in the Senate.