I'm still smarting from last night's Republican rout and will have my thoughts a little later once I get my brain cells in order. In the mean time, here is blogger reaction:
Democratic sweep - Well, it was everything we were warned about. The House was lost a long time ago but now it looks like the Senate is also lost, from Virginia to Missouri to Montana.
Montana! Virginia! Ohio!
Oh, congratulations, GOP, on capturing Tennessee [sarcastic clapping]
I'm beyond upset. I can't express myself adequately because I'm tired and filled with wine. But, be forewarned, the GOP gave this election away. HANDED IT AWAY. So stop sending me fundraising letters. It's bad enough we lost control, but we lost it because the GOP failed to hold true to conservative values.
Just. Like. That.
- Several House races lost through individual scandals involving Delay, Foley, Weldon, Ney, Sherwood, and others are low hanging fruit that should be easy to recapture in '08. Still, it will take either an incredibly popular presidential nominee or Hastertesque ineptitude on the part of Pelosi and company for the GOP to retake the House two years hence.
- The Republican leadership in both houses should, of course, be replaced with fresh faces. They have failed and must be held accountable. Newt Gingrich, who accomplished much more, had the good grace to resign for much less.
- While Republican scandals, the war, and other issues set the stage for this turnover, moderates are the key. Most of the Republican moderates-i.e., those in states that trend Democrat-lost. Most of the Democrats who won, by contrast, were Blue Dog moderates. The running of war veteran, family values candidates was the key to the Democratic victory, not the ideology of the Kos Kids.
- That's going to make it very interesting for Pelosi and Reid. Not only are they going to have to ride herd on a delegation that's less ideologically liberal than they've had in a while, there are fewer so-called RINOs to pick off. That's going to make governing hard, especially in the Senate.
- There are no good losses. While there is a silver lining in that the GOP will have to find its soul again, it's mighty hard to climb back into power against incumbents. As tough as Pelosi and Reid are going to have it, their position is much more enviable than that of their Republican counterparts.
- We'll soon see if Pelosi, Murtha, Hastings, Frank, and company are as bad as the GOP propaganda machine painted them. If they are, they'll give the Republicans a fighting chance in '08. Given political prudence and checks and balances, my guess is they prove comparatively innocuous.
- Along those lines, Republicans should pray for the impeachment hearings to commence.
- Pelosi may be many things but she's not an idiot. She'll stave off any such attempts that are in the offing.
The GOP lost. Conservatism prevailed. "San Francisco values" may control the gavels in Congress, but they do not control America. Property rights initiatives limiting eminent domain won big. MCRI, the anti-racial preference measure, passed resoundingly. Congressman Tom Tancredo, the GOP's leading warrior against illegal immigration--opposed by both the open-borders Left and the open-borders White House--won a fifth term handily. Gay marriage bans won approval in 3 states. And as of this writing, the oil tax initiative, Prop. 87--backed by deep-pocketed Hollywood libs, is trailing badly in California.
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.
How will George Bush respond? Will he throw down the gauntlet and echo the words of Vice President Dick Cheney that the administration isn't running for re-election and it'll be full speed ahead on a course it sets? Will GWB in his slated press conference today hold out an olive branch to those who seek a different approach to the Iraq war? Or dig in his heels?
Will Bush return to the model of governing for which he was famous in Texas as Governor by reaching out to the opposition party and trying to work in bipartisan mode? Granted, harsh words were exchanged during the campaign. But stranger things (such as Lyndon Johnson running as Vice President with rival John F Kennedy) have happened in American politics.
When the detailed analyses are made, and the lawyers have finished their scrutiny of the votes and any recounts are concluded, the key fact will remain: parts of the Reagan coalition came apart on election day 2006 -- and independent and moderate voters overwhelmingly deserted the GOP.
Republicans have to go back to the basics -- and I don't mean the base. They need to settle on some First Principles before they calculate how to convince voters to trust them with governance again. Republicans have traditionally stood for fiscal discipline and a strong defense above all other issues. The GOP needs to return to those values first and keep them foremost when creating their strategies for 2008. They need to elect clean leadership, and Tom Coburn's phone should be ringing off the hook this morning if Republicans want to get serious about rehabilitation.
They have two years to atone for whatever mistakes led to their defeat last night. They'll need every single day to rebuild the trust lost from the 1994 revolution.
Liberals blame voters for their decisions. I don't want to do that. But if politicians have to live with the consequences of losing their voters, voters have to live with the consequences of losing their politicians, too. According to early estimates, perhaps one-third of previous evangelical voters flipped and went for Democrats. If scandal and such put them off, fine. But if John Paul Stevens now retires, and Bush cannot get anyone but a liberal (of a moderate stripe) through the Senate, they will know precisely what that defection cost them. Can't say it's their fault; if the Republicans alienated them, such is politics. But I'm not sure evangelicals will find their choice in their own interests.
Update: Karl at Ushanka.us put his analysis of the MSM's coverage of the campaign on video.