Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Election Day 2006: The Day After
Some good summaries on Instapundit, to begin with:
DEMOCRATS HAVE THE HOUSE, with a gain of about two dozen seats, and look likely to take the Senate when all the counting is done.That makes a lot of sense to me. I do expect Democrats to calm down a bit, now that they have some real power. (I also expect them to make use of that power, don't get me wrong; but I'm hoping that some of the anti-Bush hysteria will abate.) On the other hand, I very much hope that the people who have been complaining about anti-Bush hysteria do not come down with a similar syndrome themselves.
Looks like my pre-mortem was merely a bit ahead of schedule. And I think that this defeat really was the result of a series of unnecessary Republican errors. The GOP leadership needs an overhaul, and I think it will get one.
The Democrats now have a chance to govern, not just carp, and how well they do over the next couple of years will have a lot to do with whether they have a shot at the White House in 2008. Perhaps getting back into power will also encourage a bit of responsibility. We'll see. If nothing else, the bitterness that comes with losing, and being out of power, is likely to recede a bit. Republicans would be wise not to succumb to a similar bitterness, especially as this defeat could have been avoided if they'd stuck to their principles. Maybe they'll pay more attention to libertarians, too.
(Yes, the prospect of Rep. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, third in line for the Presidency, is a bit scary. Then again, let's have some perspective -- we have never had a Speaker of the House become President, not once in 230 years. I don't think it's particularly likely this time around either.)
It has certainly been observed before that the American people, uncertain about Democrats vs. Republicans and their policies, often prefer gridlock, where neither party wins. Personally, I think that's a very bad idea when the country is at war. But it's certainly happened before... and this is the choice of the American people. So, bad idea or not, it's what we have.
And, as John Podhoretz points out (also via Instapundit):
Happy or suicidal with tonight's results, something colossal and profoundly important has happened in the United States beginning in 2000 — the re-engagement of the American people with politics. We have had four enormously consequential elections in a row now in which voters have cast their ballots in numbers that we were told we'd never see in our lifetimes. I don't see how you can view this as anything but a wondrous development for the United States.I certainly can't argue with that. And I suppose, in retrospect, that it would have taken, not a war, but a wartime President, to make that happen.
UPDATE: With John Murtha not only reelected (with 61% of the vote) but running for Majority Leader, I think it's time -- regretfully -- to pull down the banner for Diana Irey. I'm not happy about Rep. Murtha holding his seat, and I'm less happy about him wielding more power than ever -- but that is the people's choice, and I will honor that. (I also don't want to look like the people still driving around my neighborhood with Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers.)
On the other hand, as Shelley points out in the comments, Rep. Nancy Pelosi has pledged that, under her stewardship, the House of Representatives will be "the most honest, ethical and open" -- a bold pledge indeed. I hope very much that she holds true to that. But the first impressions are not encouraging. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
UPDATE II: Thanks to Wretchard at The Belmont Club, this interview on PBS with Nancy Pelosi:
MARGARET WARNER: Now, the president said today also he wanted to work in a bipartisan way on Iraq. But then he repeatedly defined the goal as "victory." And he said at one point, you know, speaking of the troops, "I want them home, too, but I want them home in victory, not leaving behind an Iraq that's a safe haven for al-Qaida." And he said repeatedly that victory was leaving an Iraq that was self-sustaining and could defend itself.
Now, can Democrats work with him and embrace that as the goal?
REP. NANCY PELOSI: I mean, the point is, is that our presence in Iraq, as viewed by the Iraqis and by others in the region, as an occupation is not making America safer. We are not even honoring our commitment to our troops who are there, and we are not bringing stability to the region.
So what is being accomplished by our being there? A responsible redeployment outside of Iraq, at the same time disarming the militia, amending the constitution, so that more people feel a part of the new government, and, again, building diplomatic relationships in the area to bring stability and reconstruction to Iraq is really a path we have to go down.
The president -- victory is elusive. Victory is subjective. What does he mean by "victory"?
This does not encourage me. Ms. Pelosi, you were just told what the President means by "victory" -- leaving Iraq, but not before it could defend itself without our help -- and you responded that you want other countries in the region to stabilize Iraq so that we won't have to. (That's what "building diplomatic relationships in the area to bring stability and reconstruction to Iraq" means.)
Which begs several questions -- who in the Middle East do you think could do a better job of rebuilding Iraq than the United States, and why do you think so? (Who would move in to a power vacuum in the case of a premature unilateral American withdrawal? Iran, certainly. Is that whom we want running the show in our absence? Or, more likely, does she just want to bring the troops home, and doesn't know or doesn't care about the long-term consequences?)
A more basic question might be: Why are you asking what the President means by "victory" when you were just told what he means? Were you not listening, or did you not understand it? Neither bodes well at this point.
And an even more basic question might be: how is it possible that you don't know what "victory" means? Or have you forgotten that we are at war? Or do you believe that the war will be over as soon as we Bring The Boys Home, and that we will live as peacefully as we did on Sept. 10, 2001?
As if there was any doubt: She doesn't get it. Let us hope that, as she is required to govern, she will figure it out... and that it doesn't take her too long.
This sort of thing makes me go back to reread Dan Simmons' The Visitor... and it gives me the shivers.