But here's the interesting thing. Of the 60-65 Democrats who lost their
seats, some 26-29 of them were Blue Dog Democrats. (The reason for the
range is that five races remain too close to call, three of which
involve Blue Dogs). So the carnage was twice as high among centrist
Democrats then it was among liberals and moderates who supported the
That doesn't sound like a country slewing strongly to the right and
What it sounds like is voters impatient with a party that can't do
anything when given the opportunity.
There were roughly 50 Blue Dog Democrats in the House before the
election, and now there's only less than half that number. Despite the
loss of the House, the Dems are better off for it.
The main reason why Obama would make big concessions on his programs
before they were even presented to the House was to please the Blue
Dogs—who would usually go ahead and vote against it anyway, since they
have no more principles and loyalty than the Republicans. A Republican
wearing a blue tie isn't a Democrat; he's a Republican wearing a blue
tie, and voters were tired of the cheap fakes.
At least now the Dems can take stands and show something resembling
unity when they do so. They don't have 25% of their membership ready to
bolt at any given moment and on every other vote. There's still some
Blue Dogs left, but now they only make up about 15% of the membership
instead of 25%, and they have to be looking at the carnage and asking if
acting like Republicans is really all that politically useful.
The animal control officer just rolled through town and picked up a
bunch of Blue Dog strays, and the rest are in hiding.
In the meantime, the Republicans have a problem. They aren't going to
get shit done over the next two years, and since it's pretty unlikely
that the economy is going to improve without strong government
intervention—which they have no intention of providing anyway—then come
November 2012, they'll be the ones holding the bag.
Of course, they aren't even going to pretend to govern. Speaker-to-be
Homer Simpson was asked on MSNBC if he would say impeachment of Obama
was off the table, as Pelosi infamously did with Bush, and he refused to
do so, dancing around the question. Darrel Issa, new chair of the House
Committee for Oversight and Government Reform, and a man who shows that
you can never have too much money to be petty, vicious and nasty, says
he has several hundred letters of investigation ready to launch against
the Obama administration.
In other words, the Republicans are going to run Congress the only way
they know how to when they don't have full control: with hundreds of
fake scandal inquiries.
All the poor dumb bastards who voted for small government, less taxes,
and a good economy, will instead get a whole new run of Paula Jones and
Monica Lewinsky-type show trials in lieu of governance.
Republicans don't care if Obama actually committed any impeachable
offenses or not. They just want to tie him up and distract him from
leading, as they tried with Clinton. And Obama is no Clinton—the gambit
may be more successful.
Hell of a way to run a country, but then, the Republicans have been
cultivating morons for years, and morons get exactly the type of
government they deserve in a democracy.
To that end, Republicans are also going to try to make climate change go
away by calling it socialist, and deal with government debt by cutting
government income and promising to cut government expenses even as they
With any luck at all, they'll be stymied in this. Hopefully, Obama will
look at the withering disdain voters showed for weak centrists, and grow
a backbone and keep his veto pen close at hand. And since they have
majority in the Senate, the Dems should be able to contain the excesses
of the Teabagger nuts in the GOP.
This wasn't what the country as a whole wanted. With a couple of
exceptions, the high-profile crazies of the Teabaggers went down to
defeat. The only two to survive were Rand, son of Paul, and Ben, son of
Quayle. About 30 teabaggers got elected, but the night represented a
pasting on Sarah Palin, who saw roughly 60% of candidates she endorsed
go down to defeat. And most of the remaining survivors were in districts
so far right that it's safe to say they won despite Palin's endorsement
rather than because of it. Widely seen as an idiot these days, it's
unlikely she added a single net vote to any candidacy she endorsed.
Sharron Angle, despite a narrow lead in the polls all the way up to
election day, was defeated fairly decisively by the unpopular Harry
Reid. Voters there apparently felt boring was better than nuts. Angle
gave a bizarre concession speech which she said that out of state donors
gave “from their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors” She
also congratulated herself and her supporters for inspiring Democrats
and independents to vote against her. It would be a bit like one of the
Texas Ranger pitchers who got shelled in the first two games of the
World Series boasting that he inspired San Francisco hitters.
In Alaska, Murkowski became the first write-in candidate to win in a
Senate race since Strom Thurmond did it in South Carolina in 1954. Of
course, she was running against one of the vilest candidates to come
along since Stephen King's “Greg Stillson”. I don't know if Miller would
actually kick a chained dog to death they way King's character did, but
no problem: the voters were willing to kick dogs—blue or red—to death,
and he was handy. It didn't help him any that Sarah Palin stumped for him.
Here in California, the results were actually pretty damned good. Jerry
Brown is the last successful governor California had, and he might be
the next. Meg Whitman sank $160 million of her personal fortune into the
race, but it wasn't enough to prevent her from running an ad in the
final week that talked about how she wanted to restore California to the
glory days the state enjoyed when she first moved here, thirty years
earlier. Too late, it was noted that in those “glory days” the governor
was...Jerry Brown. He won this race decisively.
One reason governors in California have failed, one after another, for
twenty years is because of a lunatic amendment to the state constitution
that required a two-thirds vote to pass the annual state budget—or any
revenue bill. What this meant was that 34% of the lege—usually
Republicans—could hold the state ransom, and that's just what they did.
It would have continued that way for many years, since you can count on
one hand the number of times a political party has had a 2/3rds majority
in both Houses in any state. California voters, by a hefty margin,
replaced that with a provision that a simple majority vote would be
enough. Californians put Democrats in solid majorities in both houses,
although not supermajorities. The new rules about budgets will make the
state governable once again.
Oh, yes: and as an added incentive, lawmakers don't get paid for each
day the budget is late. The fruitless fighting and endless delays in
getting a state budget, and the grotesque compromises needed to get a
two-thirds vote in each chamber, wasted billions of dollars.
While the national vote gives Republicans a big boost in the upcoming
redistricting battles in the fifty states, in California voters took
that out of the hands of the office holders and put it in the hands of
an independent commission. When you have incumbents getting 80% of the
vote in over a quarter of the districts, you know something is seriously
wrong with the system, and hopefully this commission will address that.
No election is without its little ironies, and there was one that showed
the moral vacuum of the far right. ABC, appalled at the highly negative
response they got to an Andrew Breitbart announcement that he was going
to provide analysis of election returns for the network, hastily
explained that Breitbart's role was that of an unpaid online
commentator. No, Breitbart said, he was going to be playing a big role
in it. ABC canned his ass after getting thousands of emails condemning
them for having anything to do with someone like Breitbart, and
Breitbart promptly held a news conference pityfest, wailing that ABC had
humiliated him and “injured his brand”. As if he had any sort of
credible brand to injure.
At the same time this was happening, ACORN, the volunteer organization
that Breitbart smeared, lied about and framed, quietly declared bankruptcy.
Of course, new volunteer voter registration groups will replace ACORN.
That's the good news. The bad news is that more dishonest, shabby
demagogues will replace Andrew Breitbart, much the way Teabaggers
replaced Blue Dogs.
Trade offs, trade offs. It must be a democracy.