A welcome new report drafted by Americans for Financial Reform and Mike Konczal and championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren makes the much-needed case for further financial reform.“Today, the four biggest banks are 30% larger than they were five years ago. And the five largest banks now hold more than half of the total banking assets in the country.”
At the moment, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 ascendancy to the Democratic nomination, and subsequently the presidency, is looking like a virtual lock. But if Clinton really wants to nip a serious 2016 primary challenge in the bud, she’d start moving to the left on these matters. I’m not holding my breath. (Striking Guy Fawkes Day “Million Mask March” pic above via the OWS Twitter feed.)
“Could I offer one piece of serious advice?…Start thinking now about you want your legacy to be.” Having made peace with The Queen, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen once more) now contends with President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton (Dennis Quaid and Hope Davis respectively) in this brief teaser for Richard Loncraine’s The Special Relationship, written by Peter Morgan. (This is the fifth Morgan/Sheen collaboration after The Deal, The Queen, Frost/Nixon, and The Damned United.) With this, Treme, The Pacific, Song of Ice and Fire, and Boardwalk Empire, the reasons for re-subscribing to HBO seem to be mounting.
Do you remember the Iraq War of 2003? Remember those heady days of euphoria when it ended two months later, with only 139 American lives lost? Journey back with me — TIME-LIFE style, if you will — to the scene of our triumph: “Chris Matthews on MSNBC called Bush a ‘hero’ and boomed, ‘He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.’ PBS’ Gwen Ifill said Bush was ‘part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan.’ On NBC, Brian Williams gushed, ‘The pictures were beautiful. It was quite something to see the first-ever American president on a — on a carrier landing. This must be very meaningful to the United States military.’“
Well, today marks the five-year anniversary of our glorious victory, the day that “splendid little war” came to a close. Among those honoring the day, and the remarkable achievement of our Commander-in-Chief:
Yes, folks, this is how we choose a president in this country: Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash. The first primary is effectively over, and Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney lead the begging and scraping for loot at $26 and $21 million respectively. On the GOP side, Rudy came in second at $15 million, with McCain trailing at third with $12.5 million. Meanwhile, for the Dems: John Edwards has $14 million, Bill Richardson $6 million, Chris Dodd $4 million, and Joe Biden a clean, articulate $3 million. Still obviously missing, Barack Obama, who is rumored to be up around the 20 mark. While I hate to indulge this stupid financing system, I hope it’s something like that, as I’m still rooting for he or Edwards over Sen. Clinton in the primary, and the Clinton money machine is, without a doubt, a sleek, well-oiled contraption. Update: Make that $25 million for Obama.
Only a new president can renew the promise of America — the idea that if you work hard you can count on the health care, education, and retirement security that you need to raise your family. These are the basic values of America that are under attack from this administration every day. And only a new president can regain America’s position as a respected leader in the world.” Yes, folks, the Clintons are back. As of this morning, Senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton has officially entered the 2008 presidential race. Senator Clinton is smart, committed, and formidable, and I think she’d make both a worthy standardbearer and a worthy president. (And her husband would likely make the best First Mate since Eleanor.) But, in all honesty, I also think she’s the type of candidate that everyone in the country already has an opinion about, and I fear we’re rolling the dice with her if the GOP gets behind McCain, as they’re likely to. (Also, while having our first Madam President will be both a history-making and long overdue moment in our politics, I’m not sure I like the historical precedent of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton — It sounds so Gilded Age to me.) Finallly, while she’s been a strong and dedicated advocate of many liberal issues in the past (health care reform, social security) in the past, her record on much-needed progressive reforms (campaign finance, voting reform) is less enthusing, and — like her husband — she’s clearly shown a tendency to don the conservative wardrobe (Iraq’s early days, attacking Hollywood) when it suits her purpose. I’m not averse to a Clinton candidacy by any means (as I was and continue to be with Al Gore), but — unless things change considerably in the year to come — there are other candidates I find more intriguing. Namely…
“Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.” I’m still furiously playing catch-up, so I’m obviously a day or two behind on blogging this…Then again, Dubya’s just as obviously three or four years behind in announcing it, so I’ll call it a wash. Nonetheless, after finally admitting that his administration has seriously screwed up in Iraq, Bush — sidestepping the suggestions of the Baker-Hamilton commission — calls for sending 21,500 more troops to the region, in what’s being billed as a “surge.” (Re: “escalation.”) When you get right down to it, Dubya’s basic argument in his televised address on Wednesday was this: “Through wishful thinking and outright incompetence, I’ve dug two nations into a huge hole. Please, please, please let me keep digging…“
Here’s the thing — A massive troop increase would’ve made a good deal of sense in 2003, during those crucial days just after the fall of the Hussein regime. A show of power then — and a quicker restoration of order and basic services — would have paid huge dividends down the road. But, now, all these years later, after so much infrastructure has been destroyed and so many sectarian schisms have been allowed to fester? 21,500 troops — many of them not fresh recruits but wearied soldiers returning to the region or having their tours extended — isn’t going to make a dent in the Whack-a-Mole game we’ve been playing against insurgents since 2003. At best, this escalation is a show of good faith to the al-Maliki government, which seems to be not much more than a brittle political arm of Shiite extremists (Exhibit A: the manner of Saddam’s hanging; Exhibit B: the refusal to do anything — until now — to rein in Al Sadr’s Mahdi Army.) Yes, folks, throwing more troops at a losing situation, backing a shaky government that can’t handle its own security issues, rattling the saber at Cambodia/Iran…who says Dubya isn’t a student of history?
Fortunately, for the first time since the beginning of the war, Congress isn’t having it, with even some Republicans joining Dems in rallying against the proposed troop increase and today venting their wrath at Condi Rice before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (No doubt the poll numbers against Dubya’s plan is helping to stiffen some GOP spines.) Still, Dubya has some allies in this fight — While the Dems are universally opposed to the escalation gamble [Dem Response by Durbin | Biden | Clinton | Dodd | Edwards | Feingold | Obama | Pelosi] and a not-insubstantial number of Republicans are balking, some key GOP pols are still supporting Dubya’s move (most notably John McCain, who’s been calling for a troop increase since day one, and Rudy Giuliani, likely trying to right the 2008 ship after his recent devastating document dump.)
“The attack ads practically write themselves: Hillary Clinton voted against ethanol! Barack Obama wants to increase taxes!” Already looking to next year’s big show, the WP parses Clinton and Obama’s respective voting records in the Senate.
“We had a good talk about how to run a campaign there…She understands that this will take a significant amount of hard work and campaigning and getting to know Iowans more up close and personal.” To no one’s surprise, Senator Hillary Clinton begins laying the groundwork for a 2008 bid.”
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.
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.
“What [Connecticut] tells us about the fall is something I think we’ve known all along, and that is the status quo in Iraq is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable to Democratic primary voters, it’s unacceptable to independents and it’s unacceptable to a large minority of Republicans. Iraq is the number one issue and the message is exceptionally simple: We cannot abide the status quo.” As Joe Lieberman likely nears the end of his days as a Democrat, Hillary, the DLC, and other centrist Dems prep for the fallout from the Connecticut primary.
“‘The Republicans say the economy is great for everyone,’ Clinton said. ‘They’ve done nothing about these costs that are eating away at the paychecks of hard-working Americans. Democrats will work to get health-care costs down, to get college tuitions under control, to address the rising costs of gas prices, to cut middle-class taxes and reward companies that create jobs here at home.‘” With November in the not-too-distant future (and 2008 only a step beyond), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announces the American Dream Initiative, a.k.a. the DLC centrists’ stab at a Contract with America-type campaign agenda: “The centerpiece proposal would provide additional support for college costs, with the goal of increasing the number of college graduates by 1 million a year by 2015…Other ideas include requirements for employers to establish retirement accounts for all workers and a refundable tax credit for savers; ‘baby bonds’ that would create a government-funded savings account of $500 for every child born in the United States; a refundable tax credit to help provide the down payment on housing; universal health care for children; and benefits for small businesses to lower the cost of providing health insurance to workers.” This all sounds good, if a bit classically Clintonesque. OK, the name is goofy (as was Hillary’s “It’s the American Dream, stupid.“), and IMHO there needs to be more here regarding both campaign finance and lobbying reform. But, still, there’s very little of the usual protective camouflage-y cruft that usually accompanies anything put out by the DLC, so that’s a good start. Let’s see where it goes.
Ethanol and granite, meet poker and palmettos. After months of wrangling, the Dems announce that Nevada and South Carolina will be pushed forward into Iowa/New Hampshire territory come the 2008 primaries. “Harold Ickes — a committee member and confidante of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y., a potential 2008 candidate — spoke in opposition to a Palmetto State primary out of concern that it would be a walkover for former senator John Edwards (N.C.) should he choose to run.” (Interestingly enough, this article also notes that Rep. Jim Clyburn, the congressman from my hometown of Florence, SC, is now the third-ranking Dem in the House. Nicely done.)
“Including Hillary Clinton’s maiden name increased her approval rating among Republicans polled to 23 percent. “Hillary Clinton” had a 16 percent approval rating among people who identified themselves as Republican.” What’s in a name? For Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, seven points.
Faced with the prospect of his state losing its disproportionate influence on presidential campaigns, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch (D) begins twisting the arms of possible presidential candidates in 2008, with Evan Bayh the first to cry uncle. “New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has assiduously avoided taking a position on the issue despite personal urgings by Lynch to do so. Former Virginia governor Mark Warner, the hot ‘anti-Hillary’ candidate these days, is similarly noncommittal.” Pushing back on New Hampshire’s entreaties are Bill Richardson (New Mexico) and John Edwards (North Carolina), for obvious reasons. Feingold is also uncommitted (as far as I know), although one would think that, as an independent-minded maverick, he’d be a prime candidate for an early Granite State boost. That is, provided John McCain doesn’t suck all the air out of the state, as he did in 2000 versus Bradley.
“‘I haven’t read it,’ demurred Barack Obama (Ill.). ‘I just don’t have enough information,’ protested Ben Nelson (Neb.).” As Senator Tom Harkin signs on as a co-sponsor of Russ Feingold’s censure resolution — which, word has it, is also now backed by John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Robert Menendez — the Post‘s Dana Milbank watches the rest of our party head for the hills. “Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) brushed past the press pack, shaking her head and waving her hand over her shoulder. When an errant food cart blocked her entrance to the meeting room, she tried to hide from reporters behind the 4-foot-11 Barbara Mikulski (Md.). ‘Ask her after lunch’ offered Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reines. But Clinton, with most of her colleagues, fled the lunch out a back door as if escaping a fire.”
Are the Clinton 2008 team taking their toys and going home? With financial backing from George Soros, Clinton lieutenant Harold Ickes announces he’s kicking off a private Dem-data mining firm, which will amass information on left-leaning voters and, theoretically, sell it to interest groups and campaigns that get the Clinton stamp of approval. “Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job, and they say that a competing for-profit entity could divert energy and money that should instead be invested with the national party. Ickes and others involved in the effort acknowledge that their activities are in part a vote of no confidence that the DNC under Chairman Howard Dean is ready to compete with Republicans on the technological front.“
Well, I’d like to know more about the supposed deficiencies of the DNC’s voter outreach system, but this sounds like a troubling development all around. A house divided against itself cannot stand, particularly one as divided as the Democrats these days. (And, given how lackluster many Dems feel about a prospective Clinton candidacy anyway, a seeming attempt to put her own 2008 prospects before the good of the party is, to my mind, probably going to redound badly.)
“Even a criminal like myself is shocked that millions are not able to get health insurance and cannot pay for basic surgery. Who are these power brokers that allow the pigpen to become wormy and filthy? I demand your very lives, but I am not such an imbecile as to institutionalize suffering and poverty. You have my assurance that this shall change swiftly.” Three years to go and the 2008 slate is already filling up. For the Dems: Hillary, Biden, Bayh, Warner, and Feingold. For the GOP: Frist, McCain, and Brownback. And, although Chris Walken first seemed to have the Indy vote locked up (let’s face it, Cthulhu‘s missed His shot), word is the inimitable General Zod is now coming on strong. Hmmm. I could definitely see him pulling a Stockdale at some point in the debate. (By way of LinkMachineGo.)
“When my party retakes the White House, there may very well be a Democratic John Roberts nominated to the Court, a man or woman with outstanding qualifications, highly respected by virtually everyone in the legal community, and perhaps with a paper trail of political experience or service on the progressive side of the ideological spectrum. When that day comes, and it will, that will be the test for this Committee and the Senate. And, in the end, it is one of the central reasons I will vote to confirm Judge John Roberts to be perhaps the last Chief Justice of the United States in my lifetime.”
By a vote of 13-5, John Roberts is approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee — with Dems Patrick Leahy, Herb Kohl, and Russ Feingold joining the Republican majority — and will no doubt become the Court’s next Chief Justice. The Dems — and particularly Sen. Feingold — are already getting flak for their Yes votes from People for the American Way and other liberal groups. (For their part, Hillary and Joe Biden have decided to keep the 2008 primary voters happy.) Well, just as I think Feingold was right to vote yes on Ashcroft in 2001, I think he made the correct decision here, both in terms of principle and politics.
In terms of principle, I think Feingold’s statement above is exactly correct. We could go through 1000 nominees, and Dubya would never pick anyone who comes remotely close to being a progressive — Sadly, the conservative tinge of the Supreme Court was decided last November, with Dubya’s re-election. The question before the Senate was whether Roberts was (a) competent enough to fill the position of Chief and (b) whether he adhered to the broad mainstream (albeit conservative mainstream) of American legal thought. I watched almost all of the Roberts hearings and, although he dodged and weaved past way too many important questions, he was clearly (a) hyper-competent and (b) more respectful of existing legal precedent than many other conservative freakshows Dubya could have appointed (and might still.) Roberts said a number of times that he believed in a constitutional right to privacy, that Griswold was good and settled law, and that (although most agree on this anyway, Janice Rogers Brown notwithstanding) the Lochner Court was not an appropriate or worthwhile historical role model for today’s judiciary. Perhaps he’s lying, but it’s no small business to lie before the Senate. I think Feingold was right to take his word at face value and vote yes, with reservations.
Voting for or against a 50-year-old Chief Justice is not a decision to be taken lightly, and I’m sure Dems on both sides of the vote chose their stance on principle. But, to be base for a moment and consider the politics of the situation, the Yes voters allowed themselves wiggle-room on the next nominee that most Dems have basically wasted on a sure thing. Roberts is replacing Rehnquist, a conservative for a conservative. The real battle lies ahead, when Dubya appoints a justice to take O’Connor’s swing-vote position. Where are the Dems who voted no on Roberts going to go? Chances are the next candidate for justice will be less competent and more conservative, in the scary-fundy sense, than Roberts, but the no-voting Dems have lost all pull by not keeping their powder dry. Had the Dems acceded to Roberts’ nomination, they would have easier recourse to a possible filibuster in Round 2, particularly with the fair-play-minded Gang of 14. Now, not so much.
At any rate, I’ll admit to being already something of a Feingold groupie — More than any other Dem, except perhaps the late Paul Wellstone, I view him as my Senator in Congress, the closest thing to a true progressive out there. (For what it’s worth, I also thought he did a better job than any other Dem in his questioning of Roberts, with the possible exception of Dick Durbin.) Still, I think he made the right decision in this vote, and I hope very much that groups on the left who disagreed with his choice here keep an eye on the big picture and don’t start calling for his head.
And Roberts? Well, I’m never going to agree with the guy on a lot of issues, that’s for sure. But, in the hearings, I thought he came across as conservative in the old and best sense of the term — cautious, restrained, not inclined to break tradition — and not as a frothing, fundamentalist reactionary like any number of judges Dubya has appointed to the bench. Let’s hope, for all our sakes, that this turns out to be the case.
“The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it’s making the difficult job of being a parent even harder.” It’s Dem Mods v. dem mods as Senators Hillary Clinton and (surprise, surprise) Joe Lieberman decide to sic the FTC on Rockstar Games for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, namely for the “Hot Coffee” PC mod which may or may not have been included in the original source code. (FYI, you can see the controversial game-clip here — It’s not safe for work, but it’s basically two pixellated characters having explicit sex in various positions, a la the puppets in Team America.)
As with most PMRC, V-Chip, and/or anti-Hollywood-style scapegoating for easy moderate bonus points, I don’t particularly think this type of sophomoric tomfoolery in an M-rated (17 and over) game is the central reason for the Decline and Fall of America’s Wayward Children. (And several wry Slashdotters have already pointed out the ridiculousness of the argument being made about GTA here: “I don’t care if my child carjacks a senior…[or] if he takes a golf club and starts clubbing to death pedestrians. But he may never, over my dead body, have adult on adult, consensual sex!“) But Sen. Clinton’s proposed remedy — adding teeth to the ratings system by potentially fining stores who sell M or AO-games to minors — doesn’t sound like the end of the world either. Update: Rockstar fesses up. Update 2: “Maybe she’d be wiser to focus on issues that matter to these people — say, the fighting and dying in Iraq — than on the fighting and the dying in the fake, fun world of ‘Grand Theft Auto.’” Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo calls out Clinton.
“The president gazed intently at poll data and then turned to his wife. ‘Women,’ he announced, ‘want to know why you stayed with me.’ There was an awkward pause among the group of political operatives. But Hillary Clinton did not seem embarrassed. Instead, a half-smile crossed her face. ‘Yes,’ she responded, ‘I’ve been wondering that myself.’” John Harris plugs his new book on the Clinton White House with an excerpt on Hillary’s lessons learned — and possible strategy — for 2008.
“I know it’s a bit of an odd-fellow, or odd-woman, mix,’ she said. ‘But the speaker and I have been talking about health care and national security now for several years, and I find that he and I have a lot in common in the way we see the problem.’” As a testament to politics making strange bedfellows, Hillary and Newt make the rounds. But will this type of bipartisan rapprochement seem antiquated after we enter the Nuclear Age next week?
“It is not quite the ‘right wing conspiracy’ that Hillary Clinton described, but it is an impressive organization built consciously, carefully and single-mindedly. The Ann Coulters and Grover Norquists don’t want to be candidates for anything or cabinet officers for anyone. They know their roles and execute them because they’re paid well and believe, I think, in what they’re saying.” By way of Blotter Spotter and The Late Adopter, Bill Bradley emerges from hiding to dissect the organizational problems of the Democratic Party. “If Democrats are serious about preparing for the next election or the next election after that, some influential Democrats will have to resist entrusting their dreams to individual candidates and instead make a commitment to build a stable pyramid from the base up. It will take at least a decade’s commitment, and it won’t come cheap. But there really is no other choice.” I agree wholeheartedly…but to help build this pyramid, Senator Bradley, we need to hear much more from you more often.
In a nod to her husband’s V-Chip triangulation strategy of 1996, Senator Hillary Clinton joins perennial bluenoses Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Rick Santorum (R-PA) in calling for a new ratings system for television, video games, and the like. Ok, fine, if this helps Sen. Clinton gain cred with Bush-leaning soccer moms, so be it…a uniform ratings system isn’t the end of the world. But I’d be more heartened if Hillary spent less time trying on the moralistic protective camouflage of the GOP and more time articulating the differences between the Democratic and GOP conceptions of “moral values.”
For example, Republicans love to throw the Bible around. Well, last I checked, the New Testament has more to say about compassion, tolerance, the hypocrisy of self-appointed moral arbiters, and the excesses of the wealthy than it does to recommend the small-minded bigotry and pro-corporate, devil-take-the-hindmost avarice of today’s Republican party. The Dems would do well in 2006 and beyond to draw attention to these huge shortfalls in GOP “values,” rather than rush to appropriate their shallow, scapegoating dramaturgy. (In fact, perhaps they should take a page from groups like the surging evangelical-environmental movement.)
Election 2008 Round-Up: While Joe Biden is most concerned about Hillary Clinton as his possible primary competition, several of the nation’s governors aim to prove him wrong, and have started a-schmoozin’ to that effect.
“If you think you have seen this movie before — ‘Dean Against the Machine’, you have…Then, as now, Dean inspired an outside-the-Beltway, Net-based crusade whose shock troops adored his social progressivism and his fearless opposition to war in Iraq. Then, as now, a party establishment — based in Congress, governors’ mansions and Georgetown salons — viewed him as a loudmouthed lefty whose visibility would ruin the Democratic brand in Red States.” Writing in breathless hyperbole mode as usual, Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman surveys the consensus anti-Dean reaction among DNC poobahs (purportedly being led by the 2008-conscious Clintons.)
I remained pretty agnostic about Dean’s candidacy last winter – when he seemed he had the big mo, I was all for the party getting behind him. But, I can’t say I was heartbroken by any means after the Iowa collapse. (In retrospect, of course, it’s hard to think of a single state that Kerry won that Dean also wouldn’t have carried.) That being said, to my mind Dean as DNC chair makes for a much better fit. The job of DNC chair is to fire up the grass roots and get Dems elected, and Dean has already shown a marked ability to achieve the former. Plus, it was the protective-camouflage, middle-of-the-road DNC’ers that foisted Terry McAuliffe on us, and he was an out-and-out embarrassment from start to finish. (Don’t agree? Go look at the November results again.)
As many others have noted, Dean isn’t nearly as lefty as he’s being made out to be — He’s a fiscally conservative governor. As such, the reaction he has fostered among the insider crowd has very little to do with governing ideology and a lot to do with one faction desperate to maintain controlling power over the party. Dean or no, if the DNC chairmanship is filled by another unenterprising flunky along the lines of McAuliffe, we’ve already started down the road to more of the same in 2008, right down to the losing.
As we Dems still mull over November’s ignominy, Newsweek releases the details of an 11/9 interview with John Kerry in order to flog their upcoming election book. “He never quite came out and said it, but Kerry sounded very much like a man who was running for president again…Some of Kerry’s followers are already plotting how Kerry can defeat Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses in 2008.” Hmmm…I really think we need a lot more intraparty soul-searching before we pin our 2008 hopes on those two candidates…at this point, that sounds like a recipe for disaster.
So, that’s that, then…the Idiot Wind blows anew. The American electorate has spoken and — despite all the shadiness and incompetence of the past four years — has given Dubya and his cronies the imprimatur to go hog-wild. 51-48%…this is pretty much a mandate, folks. (Big of those Red Staters to ensure that we will be woefully unprepared for the next terrorist attack on a Blue State.) Y’know, H.L. Mencken‘s whole Tyranny of the Booboisie schtick has always grated on my lefty sensibilities, but at this point I have to admit he may have been on to something.
Ugh. I’m too young to remember 1984 very well, but I’m curious as to how last night and this morning compared for America’s Left. (I’ve since been reminded by several people I trust that 1968 and 1972 were much more grievous blows.) Thing is, 2004 started out with such promise over here. But, right around the time I ended up on crutches in May, events personal and political took a nasty turn, and the past few months have been some of the most dismal I can remember. Now, it seems, I may just look back on this time as relatively calm and worry-free.
But, ok, enough wallowing…let’s start taking it frame-by-frame. Given the war, the economy, and Dubya’s obvious incompetence, how on Earth did we lose this election? Well, give credit where credit is due…all this exit-talk of “moral values” proves that Karl Rove pulled off his gambit: He got the extra 4 million evangelical votes he was targeting, partly, it seems, by judiciously invoking rampant anti-gay hysteria. Yet, for some reason or another — a lousy ground game, perhaps? — the Dems inexplicably didn’t counter with extra votes of our own.
Where do we go from here? The Dems are facing an ugly Rule of Four…We lost four seats in the Senate, at least four seats in the House, and likely four seats in the Supreme Court. Whatsmore, we now appear officially dead in the water in the South and Midwest. And, with Kerry and Daschle gone, our standard-bearers now appear to be Hillary Clinton (about whom the country has already made up its mind), John Edwards (whom I still admire, but he couldn’t carry his home state), and Barack Obama (who’s probably too inexperienced to make much headway in 2008.)
Obviously, it’s now well past time for the serious party overhaul we should’ve began last cycle, when Al Gore had an election stolen from him that he should have won hands down. Daschle & Gephardt are already in the dustbin of history, and Terry McAuliffe should probably follow them there. I for one don’t think Howard Dean was or is the answer, but he’s one of the only people injecting new blood and enthusiasm into the party right now, so he should have a seat at the table. Right now, I think Edwardsian populism is our strongest ideological card, but as I said, it didn’t seem to make much headway last night.
Silver lining? Yeah, right. Well, as this Washington Monthly forum noted in September, second terms are notoriously scandal-prone (Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica), partly out of press boredom, and Dubya’s ilk seem particularly scandal-worthy…perhaps we’ll finally hear a little more about Halliburton. I’m sure there’ll be no shortage of horrifying policy decisions emanating from this administration that’ll keep lefty blogs like this one in business. And, on a purely selfish note, my likely dissertation topic on the fortunes of progressivism in the twenties is now seeming much more sexy in the wake of last night’s 1928-like cultural divide. Of course, none of these are really any consolation at all.
At any rate, I generally believe that America tends to get the president it deserves. So, God help us, we’ve brought this upon ourselves. And now, for we 48%, the hard work begins…we have to lick our wounds, get our act together, and figure out how we can best combat the rightward drift that’s afflicting our nation. Alas, I fear Dubya will do much of the heavy lifting for us, by running the nation further into the ground over the next four years. Still, we gotta keep on keeping on, y’all. I do not believe this darkness will endure.
Surprisingly, it seems President and Senator Clinton are now quietly backing H. Carl McCall over former Clinton Cabinet official (and Gore hack) Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary for NY Governor. Is this residual fallout from the much-rumored Clinton-Gore rift in 2000, or just a savvy political move to set up for 2008?