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Rain on the parade

November 8, 2006

As the downpour started at about 11:30 p.m. last night, I gave up hope.

No, it was true. Britney and Kevin are done. No hopes for reconciliation.

I’m kidding of course.

U.S. Capitol...paint it BLUE!Election Day 2006 went soundly to the Democrats.

Fueled by $1 billion in negative political advertising, the MSM’s 24/7 pursuit of assault on GOP scandals, Iraq war deaths and soft-news-fueled dissent/comedy, the Blue takes over with about a 18-seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and a likely 1-seat majority in the U.S. Senate, barring some last-minute recount revelation in Virginia or Montana, where Dems lead.

Nope, the “crooked” electronic voting machines couldn’t steal this election for the Red, but they sure fouled up the works a bit along the way.

One of the best postmortems on Election night comes from’s Bruce Reed, who was giddy over the outcome:

Democrats never had a chance to blow this election because Republicans blew it first. Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel won’t thank Bush by name, but they could. The president and his party have dedicated his entire second term to electing a Democratic Congress, from Iraq to Katrina, Schiavo to Miers, Ney to DeLay. It now looks like Bush, not Iraq, is the one who’s just a comma—a presidency that was on the brink of failure before 9/11 and in the voters’ eyes has now officially found its way back there.

But give Democrats credit. Apart from a foolish summer fling with Ned Lamont and a late Laugh-In cameo from John Kerry, Democrats did just about everything right and ran their best campaign in a decade. Field marshals Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer ignored the virtual industry of self-help nonsense that has paralyzed Democrats’ chattering classes and went back to a simple, proven formula: From the suburbs to the heartland, elections are won in the center.

So, for the first time since 1994, the Democrats control both houses of Congress.

And I’m excited. I have a feeling of morbid optimism, like the kind a victim’s family has at a killer’s execution, thinking that our lives can now advance with a sense of peace, now that the electorate, acting as firing squad in this analogy, has launched its salvo.

The electorate was tired of corruption and tired of a perceived quagmire in Iraq, choosing to ignore local issues to make a national statement, exit poll after exit poll revealed.

Now that the smoke is clearing, it’s a chance for a clean slate. And while the GOP may second-guess and pine for what might have been and think of all the things that were mishandled and went unmet, the first week of January is the start of a new game.

The American electorate has pushed the “reset” button. Now, it’s all about how Dems and GOPers choose to play.

  • Will the game be an attempt to overhaul the rulebook, through endless subpoenas and investigations (some of which will be repeats)?
  • Will the players incessantly gripe about how previous games were played (Iraq), all the while missing their turn, rather content to wait for the next game to be played in 2008?
  • Or, will the game be played fairly, with an honest roll of the dice and upfront exchange of ideas and debate on how to fix this country’s problems — both internal (taxes, health care, minimum wage, etc.) and external (military and terror threats, national security, etc.)? It would be refreshing.

Nancy Pelosi, new madame speaker?It’s not all peaches for the new House majority and probable Speaker-elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi. She will have to gauge her new caucus of incoming Democrats to see just how far they lean to the left before January comes.

Likely, the election for the Speaker position will give her a clue, as the stridently anti-Iraq Rep. John Murtha will be a challenger and receive votes from the “Out of Iraq Now” Democrats.

It’ll be a challenge to get all of her Democrat colleagues into that “moderate” boat that will be necessary to float towards the 2008 presidential election.

Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift sets the stage:

The Democrats by contrast have a huge opportunity to regain their standing as a national party. To seize that chance, they’ll have to balance the demands of the antiwar left with the more moderate voices that helped them win control of the chamber. Pelosi has already warned her colleagues against rash moves, like trying to impeach the president, and told them they’ll need to work with the White House. It won’t be easy to keep everybody happy.

And the Senate faces the same challenge as “moderate” Democrats come into the chamber. Now more than ever, Sen. Joe Lieberman holds a trump card as the swing vote, even though he has said he will caucus with the Dem majority. But expect his voice to be heard early and often. I wonder if the Democrat leadership regrets any of those negative barbs flung at Lieberman during his prickly Conn. primary battle in retrospect?

Look for one or two Supreme Court nominations to go through this Senate as left-leaning justices look for a chance to retire with a Democratic majority running the Judiciary Committee. President Bush will be forced to nominate Souter-like candidates to fill the positions. I’m guessing Justice Santorum is extremely unlikely.

And how about that President? Unlike some, I don’t feel its the effective end of his term. But how does Bush get things done with the Democrats in charge down the street? Well, like Reagan did during his second term.

Hugh Hewitt of makes a good comparison to an election result 20 years ago:

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.

The point … All is not lost, red-staters.

If the Democrats take the lead in cutting spending, offering respectable tax relief for all, keep us safe from terror (oh, BTW, while you were sleeping, Hamas ordered its membership to attack U.S. targets) while keeping economic growth on track for 24 months, then they have a chance to expand on their Congressional gains of yesterday and maybe even earn a return to the White House.

Everyone wins, especially the American people.

And isn’t THAT the ultimate goal of an electoral shift?

However, if the Federal deficit changes course and rises (it’s now at $248 billion); if the unemployment rate reverses course from its near-record low (currently 4.4% for Oct.); and if the stock market (DOW now at 12156) starts to tank, this will be a LONG two years at the helm, and give plenty of ammo to the watchers on the outside ready to swoop in and take back the reigns of power.

White HouseAnd for those who can’t get enough of politics, here are your post-election front-runners for the 2008 presidency, as judged by the options traders at (Totals are probabilities, not percentages of a poll)


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