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Election 2006

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Rove down the Hatch?

Following up on recent news that Karl Rove’s political behavior was being looked into, the WP describes how White House officials gave 20 private political briefings to government agency officials on the 2006 midterms, likely to push them into helping out struggling GOP candidates. “Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics.

Saving Rick Renzi.

The GOP streams of corruption cross further…Word comes out that congressman-under-fire Rick Renzi (R-AZ), who apparently forgot to mention he received $200,000 from a business partner he helped with a land deal, was pressuring one of the fired US attorneys to tell him how the probe against him was progressing. Moreover, and even more disconcerting, it seems the Gonzales Justice Department may in fact have stalled the Renzi probe in order to help the Arizona congressman get re-elected. Wow. Just when you think you’ve heard it all…The shadiness just never ends with these people.

My House, My Rules.

After suffering some bad press for backing away from the 9/11 recommendations last week, Speaker-Elect Pelosi announces two new oversight committees as a form of compromise: “a new panel within the Appropriations Committee to oversee the nation’s intelligence agencies [thus maintaining Murtha’s fiefdom] and a House task force to examine establishing an outside ethics panel.” And, in related news, the House Dems announce their proposed rules changes. They “include a ban on gifts and travel from lobbyists, preapproval from the ethics committee on all lawmakers’ travel funded by outside groups, a ban on the use of corporate jets, and mandatory ethics training.

Let’s Go to Prison.

The wreckage of the midterms behind him, disgraced GOP operative Jack Abramoff heads to prison today to begin a 5-year, 10-month stint in the Big House…but, not — according to ABC News — before dropping dirt on Karl Rove and “dozens of members of Congress and staff” including “six to eight seriously corrupt Democratic senators.” Sounds like the Ballad of Casino Jack might keep on keepin’ on right through the next cycle…Let’s hope the Dem Congress are much more vigilant about rooting out the corruption in their midst than were their predecessors.

Say it ain’t so, Roc.

“An Ehrlich aide who agreed to discuss the strategy on the condition of anonymity said the purpose of the fliers was to peel away one or two percentage points in jurisdictions where the governor would be running behind. No one inside the campaign expected a strong reaction. But that’s what they got.” The WP delves into the sordid tale behind the dirty trick ballots passed around in Maryland last week. (Very Royce-Carcetti, no?) Particularly disappointing (and bizarre), it seems that actor Charles S. Dutton may have been involved in hatching the scheme, although he denies it.

Should the Dems Secede?

“For the first time in 50 years, the party that controls both chambers of Congress is a minority party in the South. And in the last four presidential elections, the Democratic candidate has either garnered 270 electoral votes, the minimum needed to win, or has come within one state of doing so before a single Southern vote was tallied. Outside the old Confederacy, the nation is turning blue, and that portends a new map for a future Democratic majority.” In Salon, University of Maryland assistant prof. Thomas Schaller suggests the Dems should forget about the South. So, what happened to the 50-state strategy? As the critical importance of Senator-elect Webb’s recent win suggests, the Dems write off any region of the country at their peril.

Middle of the Road?

“This was a big deal. Certainly, it was the end of George W. Bush’s radical experiment in partisan governance. It might have been even bigger than that: the end of the conservative pendulum swing that began with Ronald Reagan’s revolution.” Despite starting off well here, TIME’s Joe Klein reads the 2006 election as a call to centrism. Hmm. Well, maybe…I suppose we’re still parsing the results. Nevertheless, I’ll confess to being somewhat irritated by TIME’s “centrist” cover after last week’s historic rout of the Republicans, so I went ahead and ginned up my own, one I find more fitting for recent events (and, of course, that is more apropos for this blog.) Procrastination, thy name is Photoshop.

Heck of a Job, Karl.

“‘My job is not to be a prognosticator,’ he said. ‘My job is not to go out there and wring my hands and say, “We’re going to lose.” I’m looking at the data and seeing if I can figure out, Where can we be? I told the President, “I don’t know where this is going to end up. But I see our way clear to Republican control.”‘” Um, you do? It’s the Election 2006 post-mortem y’all have been waiting for: Karl Rove discusses the results of the midterms, and while he correctly cites the war and the GOP’s considerable corruption problem, he still doesn’t seem to get the big picture. Fine with me…Rove, just keep doin’ what you’re doin’. It worked splendidly. Update: More here.

Come to Daddy.

“I frankly think it’s a natural default from the failure of this advice of the people they had. It was impossible to argue anymore that some of the people who got us into this mess were giving good advice.” With Dubya’s White House in shambles, will Bush 41’s team ride to the rescue? Let’s hope so — I much prefer those guys to the militant neocon wing that’s been holding the reins the past six years. Still, as one observer pointed out: “Bush’s mind works differently from the normal political mind…Maybe these Baker guys can talk him off the ledge, but nobody’s done it yet.

With friends like these…

“‘They did this to protect themselves, but they couldn’t protect us?’ another Republican aide said yesterday.” According to Patrick O’Connor of The Hill, many GOP officials are absolutely livid about the timing of the Rumsfeld resignation. “For them to toss Rumsfeld one day after the election was a slap in the face to everyone who worked hard to protect the majority.” Meanwhile, the rest of us have to figure out how to trust this president when even he admits he openly lied to everyone about Rumsfeld’s fate (not that he was garnering a lot of confidence these days anyway.)

Bye Bye Bolton?

“I never saw a real enthusiasm on the Republican side to begin with. There’s none on our side.” The next GOP casualty of the 2006 elections? If the Dems can hold off a vote through the lame-duck Congress, it might just end up being UN rep John Bolton. “The White House formally renewed its request that the Senate take up Bolton’s nomination. But Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, said they continued to resist Bolton’s confirmation and ‘he is unlikely to get a vote any time soon.’Update: To his credit, outgoing Senator Lincoln Chafee, who earlier announced his opposition to renewing Bolton, is sticking to his guns and siding with the Dems against Dubya on the issue. So Bolton looks to be gone in December…Koo koo kachoo.

World Wide Webb.

“A source close to Allen also told CNN that the senator ‘has no intention of dragging this out.'” It’s (semi)-official: AP and Reuters declare Webb the winner in Virginia, thus yielding a Democratic Senate. Excellent! “[A] Webb aide told CNN that he plans a formal news conference Thursday morning to declare victory.Update: Now, it’s really official: Allen will concede this afternoon.

The Chickens Come Home to Roost.

Remember when Boehner and the GOP banked on their widespread corruption not playing on Election Day? Well, they chose poorly. Among the many seats lost by the GOP last night were those of Abramoff flunkies Conrad Burns, Richard Pombo, and Bob Ney, notorious friend-of-pages Mark Foley, the recently-FBI-implicated Curt Weldon, mistress-beater Don Sherwood, and the fatcat architect of it all, Boss DeLay. (Surviving the corruption purge: the Foley-connected Tom Reynolds, Duke Cunningham‘s replacement, Brian Bilbray, and — though a runoff hopefully won’t shake his waycorrupt Dem William Jefferson.)

FOX fire.

“Alas, poor Brit, it was too much for him to bear in the end, I’m afraid. You almost had to feel sorry for the guy…I said almost.” Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir evaluates last night’s election coverage on FOX News. I admit, I also switched over to FOX in the late hours just to revel in all the sweet, sweet schadenfreude. I’m forced to concede, though, that their graphics were much better than CNN’s — you could actually tell how many House seats Dems were picking up all night over the needed 15, while CNN dropped that ball as soon as the Senate got tight. At any rate, for angry right-wing teeth-gnashing, nothing on FOX topped Stephen Colbert’s hilarious speel last night at the end of the otherwise middling Midterm Midtacular (Click on “Stephen Quits,” in case you missed it.)

Den Down.

And another GOP scalp (chalk this one up to Foleygate): Dennis Hastert — who’s inexplicably the longest-serving Republican Speaker in US history (Joe Cannon is 2nd) — is leaving the Republican congressional leadership. Current contenders for his position include former Majority Leader John Boehner, Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, and Joe Barton.

House Party! | The Senate in Sight…

Every single Dem incumbent returned to office. At least 26 more seats in the House. The nation’s first woman Speaker. Six new governorships. At least four Senate seats. And, if all goes well in Virginia (which, at 5am EST, is looking likely — Webb’s up 8,000, which is a pretty solid lead heading into a recount) and Montana (which seems positive for us, albeit less so — Tester’s up 5,000 with 85% reporting), perhaps even control of Congress…Yessir, all-in-all, it was a pretty grand night for us. So, Dubya and Karl…how you like them apples? Update: Make that 28 seats in the House and 5 in the Senate….soon to be six. Congress is ours!

Take Back the House!

Shady, harrassing “robocalls”, voter intimidation in Virginia, sketchy-acting electronic voting machines: yes, folks, it’s Election Day in America, and the frantic GOP are up to their usual bag of tricks. In the inimitable words of Baltimore Deputy Commissioner for Ops Bill Rawls: “American Democracy. Let’s show those Third World %@#$ how it’s done.

Regardless, each side has had their November Surprise (for the Left, Haggard’s hypocrisy; for the Right, Hussein’s hanging), and now — at long last — it’s showtime: Time to show “the decider” what we really think of him.

For what it’s worth, I can now personally guarantee at least one vote for the not-particularly-embattled Spitzer/Clinton/Rangel/Cuomo ticket. I even used an old-school levered voting machine, so mine should more likely than not get counted.

Predictions? Of course, I’d like to venture a 1994-like tidal wave, but I’ve been burned by too many election nights in the past. So I’ll play it relatively safe…the Dems win the House, picking up 18-22 seats, and gain four seats in the Senate: Missouri, Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. (So long, Santorum!) It looked like control of the Senate might’ve hinged on the Allen-Webb race in Virginia, but now that Harold Ford seems to have faded in Tennessee (one has to wonder how much Corker’s gutterball ad helped him), a Dem Senate looks really unlikely. Still, I’d love to be surprised in both states.

Obviously not winning the House at this point would be a grievous blow for the party. But, whatever happens tonight, it has to be better than the last midterms.

The last two times I posted exit polls here (in 2000 and 2004), I’ve been led astray, but if I see anything good from the Senate races, I’ll post it below. In the meantime, the NYT has a quality election guide here, and there are a couple of good explanations of what to look for tonight here and here. On this end, I and several of my friends who’ve been burned over the last few election nights together will be huddled around the TV, yearning to breathe free. Hopefully, at long last, it’ll be our night.

Cylons for Dubya.

Even in early voting, it seems, the shadiness is rampant: Looka collects a few dismaying articles about the voting machines tending to prefer Republicans this year, regardless of what voters may want. (Sound familiar?) How hard can it be, people? In twelve-odd-years of using them, I’ve never had an ATM screw up or misreport a transaction. If we can do it for twenty dollar bills, we can do it for the franchise.

Northern Exposure?

“Historically, the major parties in America have yoked together the most disparate groups for long periods. The New Deal Democrats were a party of Northern liberals and Southern segregationists. But once Lyndon Johnson committed the Democrats to civil rights for African Americans, the white South up and left — a process that took 40 years to complete but that left the Democrats struggling to assemble congressional and presidential majorities and that converted the Republicans into a party where Southern values were dominant. Now the non-Southern bastions of Republicanism may themselves up and leave the GOP, seeing it as no longer theirs.” The American Prospect‘s Harold Meyerson sees potential for a realignment of northern moderates come Tuesday. Well, let’s hope. Chafee looks like toast (and he’s acting like it, too), but there are still a lot of undecideds — between 15 and 20% — in that Rhode Island race. And, lest we forget, our very own president, much as he’d like us to think otherwise, is a scion of the North as well.

Voices Kerry | The GOP Scandalized.

I don’t really have anything to say about Kerrygate, except, well, is it Tuesday yet? Way to stick your foot in it, Senator. But, really, is this all you guys got? Is this all you can conjure, Rove? The whole GOP media onslaught about it reeks of desperation (as do the gutterball ad campaigns), and, hey, I don’t blame them: times are desperate: “‘So many different kinds of scandals going on at the same time, that’s pretty unique,’ Zelizer said. ‘There were scandals throughout the ’70s, multiple scandals, but the number of stories now are almost overwhelming.‘”

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