Will throws a jibe or two at the Democrats here, specifically Nancy Pelosi from that den of liberal iniquity known as San Francisco, but he does show moments of sensibility here (only moments, though).
A loss's silver liningI don’t know what Will means by “the political market has worked”…it usually does, except in November 2000 of course, and it did a week ago for both parties.
At least Republicans now know where the "Bridge to Nowhere" leads: to the political wilderness. But there are three reasons for conservatives to temper their despondency.
First, they were punished not for pursuing but for forgetting conservatism. Second, they admire market rationality, and the political market has worked. Third, on various important fronts, conservatism continued its advance Tuesday.
Of course the election-turning issue was not that $223 million bridge in Alaska or even the vice of which it is emblematic — incontinent spending by a Republican-controlled Congress trying to purchase permanent power. Crass spending (the farm and highway bills, the nearly eightfold increase in the number of earmarks since 1994) and other pandering (e.g., the Terri Schiavo intervention) have intensified as Republicans' memories of why they originally sought power have faded.There’s are a few points in this column that I agreed with, actually, and I should mention that Will has taken the Republicans to task in that erudite way of his where he masks his insults in multi-syllabic language. But he saves his true venom for Democrats/liberals/progressives, of course.
But Republicans sank beneath the weight of Iraq, the lesson of which is patent: Wars of choice should be won swiftly rather than lost protractedly.“Wars of choice” should not be fought at all! On second thought, though, I guess this is what you would expect from someone who ducked from Vietnam (as noted in the graphic).
On election eve the president, perhaps thinking one should not tinker with success, promised that his secretary of defense would remain.How anyone could consider Iraq “success” is something I don’t want to think about for too long, but I’m sure Will is being tongue-in-cheek here (I hope so anyway).
That promise perished yesterday as a result of Tuesday's repudiation of Republican stewardship, which, although emphatic, was not inordinate, considering the offense that provoked it — war leadership even worse than during the War of 1812.I’m not about to dust off my Britannicas to read up on President James Madison and that era, but I don’t recall that any elected representative sent sexually suggestive messages to Congressional pages, rewrote the rules so politicians could dictate the qualifications of lobbyists seeking favors, or decided that it was appropriate to spy on all American citizens without probable cause in the hope of finding any who may be terrorists (working for the British back then, I guess).
And “Emphatic, but not inordinate,” huh? Please…
Tuesday's House result — the end of 12 years of Republican control — was normal; the reason for it was unprecedented. The Democrats' 40 years of control of the House before 1994 was aberrant: In the 140 years since 1866, the first post-Civil War election, party control of the House has now changed 15 times — an average of once every 9.3 years. But never before has a midterm election so severely repudiated a president for a single policy.It was one policy failure in particular, though it was sympomatic of a much larger case of "voter's remorse."
The Iraq war, like the Alaska bridge, pungently proclaims how Republicans earned their rebuke. They are guilty of apostasy from conservative principles at home (frugality, limited government) and embrace of anti-conservative principles abroad (nation-building grandiosity pursued incompetently).What the hell does that mean? An ungodly sum of $2.6 billion on all elections in this country is somewhat acceptable to Will? Does he have any idea whatsoever of the many, many ways that that money could have been put to better use? Does Will think that consumption of chocolate, then, is some insidious liberal plot?
About $2.6 billion was spent on the 468 House and Senate races. (Scandalized? Don't be. Americans spend that much on chocolate every two months.)
That amount SCREAMS for campaign finance reform FOR REAL, as far as I’m concerned.
Although Republicans had more money, its effectiveness was blunted because Democrats at last practiced what they incessantly preach to others — diversity. Diversity of thought, no less: Some of their winners even respect the Second Amendment.Of course, Will has to toss a bone to the “God and Guns” crowd, such as those life forms in Lancaster County who decisively voted for Pancake Joe Pitts last week (if the election there had even been reasonably close, Lois Herr would be in Washington today). As I noted to a commenter, I hope none of these people lose family members to Dubya’s Now And Forever You Goddamn Liberal And I Don’t Give A Hoot In Hell What Jim Baker’s Iraq Study Group Says Global War On Terror, otherwise known as the slaughter in Iraq (and hopefully they won’t have to fear Joe’s Fatherhood Task Force or whatever that nonsense was he was talking about concerning “family values” either).
Free markets, including political markets, equilibrate, producing supplies to meet demands. The Democratic Party, a slow learner but educable, has dropped the subject of gun control and welcomed candidates opposed to parts or even all of the abortion rights agenda.That’s because the Democrats recognize that, first and foremost, “it’s the war, stupid.” Also on the list is embryonic stem cell research, tax relief, job growth (remember that one? Gosh, that so “Clinton and the ‘90s,” I know), and fixing Medicare Part D and crafting something approaching universal health care, which would thus bring us up to speed with every other industrialized nation on earth.
The issues Will mentions, pure red meat for the freepers, are still very much in play; just ask South Dakota, by the way, which voted to repeal most of the restrictions of its horrible anti-abortion law, and big-city mayors of both major political persuasions (including, notably, Republican Michael Bloomberg in NYC) will continue to face off with state legislators over stemming the insane flow of guns into and throughout our cities.
This vindicates the candidate recruitment by Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Chuck Schumer, chairmen of the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees, respectively. Karl Rove fancies himself a second iteration of Mark Hanna, architect of the Republican ascendancy secured by William McKinley's 1896 election. In Emanuel, Democrats may have found another Jim Farley, the political mechanic who kept FDR's potentially discordant coalition running smoothly through the 1930s.At this point, it’s time for your humble narrator to eat a bit of crow. There was a time when I thought there was no conceivable way Bob Casey could beat Rick Santorum. But putting aside the fact that Santorum said and did just about everything wrong you can imagine – as I pointed out along with others, his campaign made no sense until you realize that what he was really trying to do was energize his true freeper followers for a White House run (God help us) in ’08 – Casey ran a smart, cautious enough campaign where the weights of events and the conduct of his opposition firmly favored him, and in this climate for a Democrat, that was just enough (I favored Chuck Pennacchio, who would have been a great candidate also, but I just don’t know if he would have pulled in enough of Casey’s turf as well as the dreaded mid-state “T” region where few Democrats fear to tread). The decision to run Casey, as far as I’ve been able to determine, was Schumer’s along with Ed Rendell, so props to them.
Emanuel, though, just hasn’t sold me, partly because he was a bit late to criticize Bush and the Repugs on Iraq (as noted here by Arianna Huffington). Howard Dean was the first to do that and everyone thought he was nuts. Then Ned Lamont did that and staged an upset in the Democratic primary (reversed, sadly, in the general election). As the tide turned, it appeared to me that Emanuel joined in after the wave had already broken.
I can see that Will would like Emanuel because he’s an “inside” guy and is a known commodity as far as the incestuous Beltway maneuverings are concerned.
Making the Democratic House majority run smoothly will require delicacy. The six elections beginning with 1994 produced Republican majorities averaging just 10 seats. The six elections before 1994 produced Democratic majorities averaging 44. Nancy Pelosi's majority will be less than half that. The most left-wing speaker in U.S. history will return to being minority leader in 2009 unless she eschews an agenda that cannot be enacted without requiring the many Democrats elected from Republican-leaning districts to jeopardize their seats.“The most left-wing speaker in U.S. history “ huh, George? Just a bit of hyperbole, wouldn’t you say?
This year Democrats tacitly accepted much of the country's rightward movement over the past quarter-century. They did not call for restoring the 70 percent marginal tax rates that Ronald Reagan repealed. And although Pelosi and 15 of the 21 likely chairmen of committees in the coming Congress voted against the 1996 welfare reform, which has helped reduce welfare rolls by roughly 60 percent, Democrats this year did not talk about repealing it.No one in their right mind would discuss either of these topics, which are legitimate only in the minds of delusional conservatives (redundant?). As noted here, the top rate is only 39.5 percent anyway, which was enacted under Clinton (A jump from 39.5 to 70? Tell me when the spaceship lands, George). And though we should be looking at the supposed welfare “reform” (any numbers on recipients finding jobs paying non-starvation wages, George?), that’s not going to happen in this climate either.
The property rights movement gained ground Tuesday as voters in nine states passed measures to restrict governments from exercising eminent domain in order to enlarge their tax revenue.Which of course may not stand up to court challenges anyway (I don’t enjoy pointing that out...and how again is that a "conservative" issue?).
In Michigan, opponents of racial preferences in public hiring, education and contracting easily passed their referendum, 58 to 42 percent, in spite of being outspent more than three to one. In Minnesota — the only state Democrats have carried in each of the past eight presidential elections, but one that is becoming a swing state — Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty was reelected. And, come January, the number of Republicans in the House (at least 200) will still be larger than the largest number during the Reagan years (192 in 1981-83).Yeah, George is trying really hard to find stuff he likes, I know.
Update: And oh yeah...speaking of Minnesota, I wonder if Will knows that that state just elected the first Muslim congressman (a Dem, of course)? Right-wing bigot and hammerhead Glenn Beck sure knows.
Update 11/16: Here's more from Chris Bowers on Democratic election victories outside of Washington, D.C.
As noted in this Wikipedia link…
Democrats won Republican-held governorships in Colorado, Arkansas, Maryland, Ohio, New York, and Massachusetts, while retaining all of their currently-held seats.And here is a link to the House and Senate results (get back to us on those House numbers in a couple of years, George, and let us know how they’re trending, OK?)…
The country remains receptive to conservatism. That doctrine — were it to become constraining on, rather than merely avowed by, congressional Republicans — can be their bridge back from the wilderness.Fair enough, but you guys weren’t singing this song after Dubya and Cheney parked their butts in the Oval Office in January 2001 and people like Fred Barnes were crowing about a conservative ascendancy lasting into the next millennia since Dubya is “a new kind of conservative,” were you?
And it would have been nice if your precious conservative cause had been helped along by re-electing actual conservatives such as Conrad Burns, George Felix Macaca Allen and Jim No-Talent in the Senate and Crazy Curt Weldon and Mike Fitzpatrick in the House, wouldn’t it?
And speaking of the soon-to-be-former senator from Virginia, all I can say is that if his successor Jim Webb is a “conservative” based on this, then sign me up.
Of course, this is part and parcel of the Repugs’ effort (along with their media acolytes) to reframe this in Will-esque fashion. Here are two examples: this from DownWithTyranny, and this from Bloomberg news (“Conservatives may emerge stronger,” or they could tear themselves to pieces in hopeless disagreement also).
In a scenario like this, I’d rather be a “divided” winner than a “united” loser any day.