The Good News And The Bad
I have to assume that the Dems will get the Senate as well as the House, though Conrad Burns may be able to pull off an upset, in which case I hope the GOP in the Senate reject the silly rules they agreed to the last time the body was 50/50. They got no cooperation from Dems over the past two years, and if by good luck and the Veep’s vote they have the majority, they have got to begin to use it.
The long and short of this bad but not horrific night was that majorities must act like majorities. The public cares little for the “traditions” of the Senate or the way the appropriations process used to work. It demands results. Handed a large majority, the GOP frittered it away. The chief fritterer was Senator McCain and his Gang of 14 and Kennedy-McCain immigration bill, supplemented by a last minute throw down that prevented the NSA bill from progressing or the key judicial nominations from receiving a vote. His accomplice in that master stroke was Senator Graham. Together they cost their friend Mike DeWine his seat in the Senate, and all their Republican colleagues their chairmanships. Senator McCain should rethink his presidential run. Amid the ruins of the GOP’s majority there is a clear culprit.
A second loser was Bill Frist. To be the Majority Leader of a majority that did not lead is lethal to his presidential ambitions. Like Senator McCain, it would be easier on everyone if he just exited the stage.
President Bush will not flag in the pursuit of the war, and Senator Santorum is now available for a seat on the SCOTUS should one become available. GOP senators will have the chance to select leadership equal to the new world of politics which, as the past two years have demonstrated, does not reward timidity.
House Republicans as well have to rebuild from the ground up and with an eye on those members best equipped to debate the almost certain overreaches of the Democratic majority. From the first day of the new Congress it is going to be a partisan slugfest or a GOP dismemberment. The GOP must find the fighters with talent and promote them.
The anti-illegal immigration absolutists got their heads handed to them. As the fence goes up, their rhetoric must go down –dramatically.
But there is good news as well.
Hillary’s path back to the White House is much more difficult with her party in the majority in the House, and much much more difficult if the Senate falls to Harry Reid’s command as well. Clarity as to her party’s fecklessness will be back within the first six months, and the GOP frontrunners –Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney– do not have to serve in the almost certain to be paralyzed Senate.
The Beltway-Manhattan media elite is now stuck “covering” Democratic majorities. Sure, they will go easy on them, but it is much more difficult to cover for a majority than a minority.
And it is a wonderful day for new media, especially talk radio. For two years we have had to defend the Congressional gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Now we get to play offense.
I am concerned for the country that the Democrats have won, but the Republicans are indeed going to find this sojourn in the minority a potentially very good thing.
If the GOP adopts and refines the tactics the Democrats have used for the past four years all will be well two years hence, and perhaps even better than well.
For comparison purposes, in 1986 the GOP lost eight Senate seats, and Reagan faced a 55-45 Democratic majority in the upper chamber.
The Republicans only lost five seats in the House that year, and the count was 258 Democrats to 177 Republicans.
Sure, it stings. But it is far from a wipe-out, and if you had told me in 1986 that 20 years later there would be a Republican president facing a 20 seat Democratic majority in the House and a two seat Democratic majority in the Senate –and that the Soviet Union had collapsed– I’d have cheered long and loud.
As Dean has pointed out, congratulations are in order to the Dems who ran a skillful campaign that kept the focus on the GOP’s scandals and away from the left’s agenda. The GOP couldn’t recover from Foley’s repulsive conduct, and the enemy was willing to kill randomly in the run-up to the vote in order to demoralize an American public.
But the war isn’t lost, and won’t be on this Administration’s watch. But the prospect of a Leahy chairmanship of Judiciary and Biden back with the gavel at Foreign Relations is wearying. Pray that Montana comes in strong.