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Great Election Analysis

Hugh Hewitt makes some great points in this excellent column.

As cooler heads sort through the returns, they will see not a Democratic wave but a long series of bitter fights most of which were lost by very thin margins, the sort of margin that could have been overcome had there been greater purpose and energy arrayed on the GOP's side. The country did not fundamentally change from 2004, but the Republicans had to defend very difficult terrain in very adverse circumstances. Step by step over the past two years the GOP painted themselves into a corner from which there was no escape. Congressional leadership time and time again took the easy way out and declared truces with Democrats over issues, which ought not to have been compromised. The easy way led to Tuesday's result.

The criminal activities of Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney and Mark Foley were anchors around every Republican neck, and the damaged leadership could not figure out that the only way to slip that weight was by staying in town and working around the clock on issue after issue. The long recesses and the unwillingness to confront the issues head on --remember the House's inexplicable refusal to condemn the New York Times by name in a resolution over the SWIFT program leak?-- conveyed a smugness about the majority which was rooted in redistricting's false assurance of invulnerability. Only on rare occasions would the Republicans set up the sort of debate that sharpened the contrast between the parties. In wartime, the public expects much more from its leaders than they received from the GOP.
...
(The National Review's Byron York wondered why the president didn't bring up the judges issue in the campaign until the last week, and then only in Montana. The reason was obvious: Senators DeWine and Chafee were struggling and any focus on the legacy of the Gang of 14 would doom DeWine's already dwindling chances while reminding the country of the retreat from principal in early '05.)

Hugh goes on to talk about what can be done in 2008.


It is hard to conceive of how the past two years could have been managed worse on the Hill.

The presidential ambitions of three senators ended Tuesday night, though two of them will not face up to it.

The Republican Party sent them and their 52 colleagues to Washington D.C. to implement an agenda which could have been accomplished but that opportunity was frittered away.

The Republican Party raised the money and staffed the campaigns that had yielded a 55-45 seat majority, and the Republican Party expected the 55 to act like a majority. Confronted with obstruction, the Republicans first fretted and then caved on issue after issue. Had the 55 at least been seen to be trying --hard, and not in a senatorial kind of way-- Tuesday would have had a much different result. Independents, especially, might have seen why the majority mattered.

Will the GOP get back to a working majority again? Perhaps. And perhaps sooner than you think. The Democrats have at least six vulnerable senators running in 2008, while the situation looks pretty good for the GOP.

But the majority is not going to return unless the new minority leadership --however it is composed-- resolves to persuade the public, and to be firm in its convictions, not concerned for the praise of the Beltway-Manhattan media machine.

Hugh gets into many more specifics and puts quite a bit of blame on McCain for the Senate loss. Read it all -- it is excellent analysis, whether you agree with all of it or not.


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Comments (9)

There are always a fair num... (Below threshold)
Lee:

There are always a fair number of small margins these days. Running these campaigns, and having access to reliable poll data, means only spending money where it is needed to attain a win, and only spending as much as needed to win. Wider margins don't mean a thing.

Don't confuse a narrow margin with any mandate or lack thereof. Spend a million more, and the margin is wider -- but why spend the money?

Hewitt thinks Republicans l... (Below threshold)
mattyd:

Hewitt thinks Republicans lost because they they "declared truces"? Because they didn't work "around the clock"? Because, they compromised and weren't Republican enough?

What?????

So the slaughter on Tuesday was America's cry for MORE intransigent Republicanism that works around the clock?

He sounds a little drunk.

...ey will see not a Democr... (Below threshold)
muirgeo:

...ey will see not a Democratic wave but a long series of bitter fights most of which were lost by very thin margins, the sort of margin that could have been overcome had there been greater purpose and energy arrayed on the GOP's side.

Hugh Hewitt

Overall I wouldn't consider it small margins.
And weren't the Democrats out spent 2:1?


Senate Ballots cast: 31,591,495 (D) 25,054,569 (R)..

Step by step over the pa... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Step by step over the past two years the GOP painted themselves into a corner from which there was no escape.

So Lorie, and the rest of the Wizbangers... where are your articles where you recognized this and tried to stop them? Where are Hewitt's?

Congressional leadership time and time again took the easy way out and declared truces with Democrats over issues

Yeah, that's right. The Republicans lost because they've been too conciliatory. Mattyd's right... Hewitt is drunk!

most of which were lost ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

most of which were lost by very thin margins

Almost all of which were lost by larger margins than Bush's wins, and he supposedly had a resulting "mandate". So what does that mean that Dems now have?

Step by step over ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Step by step over the past two years the GOP painted themselves into a corner from which there was no escape.

Standard political B.S. What happened Tuesday is that the American electorate lost it's nerve and the war in Iraq. The lesson is that America cannot win a protracted war. Actually, that's not new, but we fooled ourselves into thinking we could with the quick success in the first gulf war. What that means for the future is that we are also going to lose in Afghanistan and terrorists will have the run of the entire middle east. With our oil supply at risk, the U.S. will have to accept the terrorist terms and abandon Israel. Israel will be forced to threaten the use of it's nuclear weapons to defend itself, or worse, actually use them. The course is set, so strap in for the ride of your life, literally.

Shorter Hugh Hewitt:<... (Below threshold)
Robert:

Shorter Hugh Hewitt:

Republicans do a shitty job governing.

Mac Lorry:Sounds l... (Below threshold)
kevino:

Mac Lorry:

Sounds like you've come to the similar conclusions that I came to several months ago.

You are 100% correct that America has lost its will. But it's worse than you think. We are the defenders of Western ideals. We have to go it alone because there isn't much of anything left. It's not just Middle East oil that's threatened: this is a struggle of East against West, and West is fading fast. In a few years, most of Europe will be gone.

A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. . . . Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?

Solzhenitsyn, 1978

Good observation. I heard H... (Below threshold)

Good observation. I heard Hugh Hewitt read his piece on the radio and linked to it yesterday. I thought he 'nailed it' as well - with a railroad spike.

The way forward begins with:
1. make illegal immigration an issue the Dems and the President can't run from.
2. Make the war with Islamic Fascists an issue the Euroweenies, Big Media, and the Dems can't run away from, beginning with continually asking the Dems how they feel about terrorsits cheering their election.
3. Add Heat
4. Stir, while seasoning to taste.




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