Short version: Democrats took back the House of Representatives, Senatorial disaster was narrowly averted. Donald Rumsfeld took the fall, the libertine press took the opportunity to gloat at a Presidential presser yesterday, and the spectre of a Speaker Pelosi has panty-bunched conservatives from coast to coast. Vast quantities of Kaopectate, Alka Seltzer and Johnny Wlaker Black have been consumed by those who had not only an electoral, but an emotional, stake in the outcome of Tuesday night. Finally, Karl Rove has proven to be human, and it should be funny watching the press that has accused him of being the Prince of Darkness, in league with the forces of the Underworld, busily write retractions and try to explain how such a tactical genius, master manipulator, uber-propagandist and politican magician utterly failed. Don't hold your breath waiting for those articles and columns, though.
Afetr all, Rove served his purpose as strawman, and now can be safely ignored. But anyway...
What does this all mean?
Well, to begin with, you can now look forward to a Congress that will do even less than the one just voted out. Whatever the Democrats believe they can accomplish, they will be hindered and hampered by their own hubris; they will trip all over themselves launching investigations and scandal hunts designed to hurt any republican nominee in 2008, assuring an easy coast for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumptive nominee. While they egage in this sort of activity, they will a) fail to focus on anything resembling regulation, b) potentially turn off a whole slew of independant voters that they will desperate need two years hence by ripping the government apart, and c) be following the script of the Howard Dean/Tie-died-and-tattooed wing of the Democratic party, making themsleves fairly unattractive in the future.
That, ultimately, is to the public good. Politicians preoccupied with petty turf and political battles are simply too preoccupied to screw with the rest of us. Oh, you'll be giving back that tax cut that GWB got passed a few years ago, certainly, but the regulatory monster that is the US Government will be put into hibernation while the Democrats engage in the politics of personal destruction. Of course, the 800-pound gorilla in the room will be the Clinton Machine, which will ensure that when Nancy Pelosi and Chuckie Schumer get too rambunctious, their leashes will be forcibly and abruptly yanked. They will not be permitted to stray too far formt he reservation. The keyword for Democrats is: maintain the status-quo until the Hildebeest wins. Don't rock the boat too severely.
You can also look forward to the Republicans fight tooth and nail for everything the Democrats do manage to bring to the plate that doesn't have anything to do with GWB or Haliburton. So, we're pretty safe from intrusive meddling from either extreme. Conservatives (who more and more cease to exist in the true sense of the word) will cry, wail and gnash their teeth, feelingmore and more alienated in a wilderness that is becoming ever-more moderate and ever-more interested in what their politicians actually do.
As to why the Republicans lost Tuesday nioght, well, even a democrat (small 'd' intentional) can figure that out; other than "stay the course", "don't let the terrorists win", and "the other side is worse", they had nothing to offer. This last congress has achieved nothing of consequence, and in the last six years has done nothing but violate every republican/conservative principle from lack of fiscal restraint, to arrogance in the performance of their duties, from the outright taking of bribes to the sexual harrassment of teen-aged males in he very corridors of Congress.
The lesson that should be learned is simply that you cannot continue to cry "terrorist" 24 hours a day (even if it is necessary), while in the background, you fail to accomplish everything you've set out in your agenda and expect to stay in power, or even worse, expect to be invulnerable. The Republicans counted on the national security card, but failed to recognize that after five years of all-terrorist-all-the-time, that the people were sick of hearing it. They already get it. So, now how about you do something about rampant spending, escalating entitlement costs, keeping illegal aliens out of the country and perhaps, learn to behave like law-abiding, responsible adults?
Scanning the "Conservative" web sites these past few days, several themes centered around this electoral setback seem to be raering their ugly heads:
1. Republicans were betrayed; a cabal of libertarians and liberal republicans conspired to jump ship and voted for the democrats, hanging the poor, hassled and oppressed "real" conservative majority (the TRUE inheritors of the Reagan Legacy, dammit!) out to dry. Nothing could be further from the truth. The belief that there was a conspiracy is par for the course; when the truth is too painful to face up to (Republicans simply sucked for the last few years), point to conspiracy. It relieves you of the necessity of facing up to the truth and relieves you of the responsibility of having hijacked the nomination process which created this mess in the first place. First rule of thumb: if you build a house with rotten wood, you deserve what you get.
2. A conspiracy of the Mainstream Media and very good democratic propagandists brainwashed the masses into voting democrat, especially those easily-bribed "swing voters". Yeah, that's right: the MSM and Bob Beckel were somehow required to convince millions that what they saw happening before their very eyes was true. So now electoral loss is due to the millions of mindless sheep out there who need to be told how to think or what their personal interests are. Again, conspiracy theory is the last refuge of those preternaturally opposed to telling themselves the truth.
3. Republicans lost because America is the New Sodom. In this case, it's God's will that republicans have failed because they did not frog-march the abortionists to the ovens, institute a system of street executions for the gays, round up the illegals and impress them into slave labor and purge themsleves of immoral sexual predators (they got the last part right). This comes from much the same legion of idiots who claimed that the (/11 attacks and the shooting deaths of 8 Amish girls were God's just punishment for libertinism and rampant sin. The sooner we get these jackasses out of the republican party and into padded cells, the better. They are no better than the "Earth First" bunch on the other side, and a fair deal loonier than anything I have ever seen in my life. In a different place and time, both of these extremes would have been the people burning witches, branding people with great, big "A"'s on their foreheads, and gathering at the weekly hanging as if it were prime time entertainment.
Now what makes this particular point of view interesting (once one gets past the disgust factor) is the the conservative websites are now pasting FOREIGN anti-gay, pro-religious propaganda to bolster their case, possibly because they have lost faith in their own, domestic sources of prudishness and bigotry. Given the recent past (the Mark Foly scandal and the Republican response, and the admission by one of the leaders of the biggest Evangelical Christian group that he engaged in gay sex and drug use with a prostitute), they seem to have lost their faith in the institutions they previously looked to for guidance and sureity. Now you will find fire-and-brimstone-snake-handling baptists, Rock-solid-no-idea-that-doesn't-come-from-Scripture-will-penbetrate-my-skull Evangelicals making common cause with the CATHOLIC CHURCH and posting Catholic commentary on Conservative websites. Yesterday alone, on FreeRepublic, there were anti-gay articles posted from Israeli, Polish and Vatican newspapers,andposters that I know personally to be of the mind-set that the Catholic Church is the next-best-thing to being involved with organized crime, have now eagerly made common cause with the Church. That such things have already happened in the span of 72 hours is simply amazing, and reminds one of just how predictable and hypocritical some people really are.
4. (And this one SLAYS me) Republicans lost because we had "no outlet" for telling the truth about the democrats. This, naturally, has been posted all over the Internet (I've seen it in about 30 places, thus far), which shows just how oblivious some people really are; you've just posted, in a public forum that reaches millions, that the media is somehow denied to you and you can't "get your message out"? Rush Limbaugh, I guess broadcasts to no one from a closet? Fox News, which at least makes the effort to provide both sides of an issue, is watched by no one?Republican candidates were not allowed to purchase advertizing space and run campaign ads on TV and radio? Quite honestly, the message wasnot one people wanted to continue to hear; they've heard it for the last six years. The message was: "Yes, so I might be an all-round sonofabitch, profligate spender, accountable-to-no-one hypocrite, who won't build a border fence, can't tell you the truth about the war in Iraq, and who doesn't really care if the government agency tasked with saving your life from natural disaster doesn't work, vote for me anyway...or the terrorists will kill you."
Non-starter. The country is tired of war and terrorism, and while they don't want the Iraqi adventure to end in defeat, they certainly don't want it to continue in the present fashion; aimless, leaderless, ill-defined and apparently endless. Americans are dying for Iraq, no Iraqis are dying for it. That's a problem. Depsite all the successful thwarting of terror plots in the last five years, Usama Bin Laden is still alive (we believe) and seems to have been forgotten. Saddam Hussein my be getting hanged, but, heck, that was a foregone conclusion and it has very little to do with ending the conflict or setting the conditions for a democratic Middle East.
Unfortunately, it'sa truism that more islearned from failure than from success. What the republican party, MY republican party, must now learn is how did it all go badly, and how do we correct it? Well, the first step is going to have to take a look at how we nominate candidates. We were given a truckload of Hasterts and Frists, Lotts and DeLays, and look where it got us. We have to suffer the insufferable with John McCain and people like Newt Gingruch have been exiled for minor sins. Condoleeza Rice and Rudy Giuliani can't even get a fair hearing because they are (or might be in the case of Rice, I don't know for certain) pro-choice and separate from "the base" on a number of other social issues. "The Base" incidentally, is the problem; candidates have to be tailored to their particular pet peeves or they stay home, which gives us candidates which are politically-reliable (until the candidate can safely get away with being politically-unrliable, see the last six years), but also makes them unimaginative technocrats who managed to manipulate the party machinery, but who otherwise couldn't think their way out of a wet paper bag, even if you gave them a chainsaw.
It's time for new blood and new ideas, but I'm afraid we'll get none of either in the next two years. The Right-wingers of the Buchanan stripe (the God, Guns and Gays coalition, as I call them, the American Taliban is apt, as well) will prevent it, and if they can't, they'll do what they always do: stay home or find a Ross Perot type to waste a vote on. Perhaps now is a good time for the Republican party to cut them loose. It will be painful, it might lead to electoral disaster again, but in the long run, purging the party of the lunatic fringe and the Social-Conservative-Litmus-testers,migth pay dividend by making REPUBLICANISM more attractive. This future republicanism can still draw lessons and bullet points form Conservatism (fiscal responsibility, national defense, law and order, end rampant illegal immigration, etc). Conservatism, it seems to me, was and still is a great philosophy, but it's attracting the entirely wrong sort. The problem is the proponents, not the philosophy.
Anyway, I won;t hold my breath waiting for it to happen.
In the meantime, Democrats now have two years to fix what they say they will. I have no confidence that they actually will accomplish anythign of consequence because they are, at heart, vicious little school-yard bullies and mental retards, to whom comon sense is something to be avoided like typhus. There are many who are just as small-minded and convinced of the tuth of their idiocy as the most staunch conservative. In the final analysis, both parties are being ruined by their extremes. But anyhow, it should be entertaining TV for the next two years, if nothing else, until the cut-and-run-apologize-to-Hamas-tax-everything-within-an-inch-of-it's-life party drops the ball and a few thousand Americans get killed in a horrifying terrorist attack. I don't wish for it, but I can see it happening.
Perhaps only then will the American people stop this nonsense of electing and paying heed to the extremists in both partys and start thinking about being AMERICANS first and members of a political party, second. But gioven the track record, if 9/11 only equated to a 51-49 race between Bush and Kerry, you have to wonder whether a second attack will do much more in changing minds.
To sum up: republicans lost because they deserved to. They fell asleep at the wheel, and when they weren't sleeping, they were feathering thier own nests and acting like drunken sailors on shore leave. Teh democrats now have an opportunity to prove they can be serious and grwon up, too, but will fall far short of this seemingly easy goal.