>> Wednesday, November 03, 2010

So, I guess I should get this over with, not because I have a helluva lot to say about it, but because I blog about politics enough and have said a few things about this year's election, such that I sort of feel readers might expect me to say something about yesterday's election results.


So far, much of the reportage I've seen or heard could have been written last week. Most of it. The Republicans took the House back, as expected. They think they pulled off this fairly predictable result because of a general repudiation of the Democrats' mussy agenda, which probably credits the Democrats with having their shit together more than they actually do, but whatever. More likely causes of the re-taking of the House include the fact that minority parties almost always make gains in the House or take it back during midterm elections, especially when the economy is in the shitter. But, you know, if the Republicans think they have some kind of mandate, I'll be mildly curious to see how that works for them.

As a by-the-way, regarding numbers and party mandates and what you make of such: my own state's State Board Of Elections page informs us that out of 6,192,595 registered voters, 2,764,579 are Democrats, 1,956,537 are Republicans, 9,253 are Libertarians, and then there are 1,462,226 independents who Republicans and pundits like to count as conservatives even though some murky percentage of that number are leftists like myself, along with centrists and along with radical right-wingers who are in fact conservatives, but maybe the Republican party shouldn't count on them too much.

Speaking of which. What might be the big story, for better or possibly worse, is that the Republicans not only failed to take the Senate, but failed to make easy-pickings like Harry Reid's Senate seat, a Democratic win that can pretty much be credited entirely to the Tea Party. Ditto for the Delaware race in which Christopher Coons slaughtered poor Christine O'Donnell, who I've lately taken to feeling pretty sorry for although there are probably good reasons I shouldn't. I think I must have some kind of "damsel-in-distress" subroutine in my firmware somewhere, but that's a whole 'nother matter.

Anyway, back on topic: Alaska (as of this writing) remains unresolved, but regardless of whether Lisa Murkowski holds on to her Senate seat and whether or not Joe Miller manages to sneak into office by the hairs on his chinny-chin-chin, the bottom line in Alaska looks like it's going to be that the teabag candidate only got around a third of the total votes in a wacky, conservative, frontier-ey state that, by rights, ought to be on the verge of seceding to form the United State Of Teabaggery. As far as the Senate goes, I think the only place where a teabag-approved candidate won is Kentucky. Which is a situation I have nothing to say about at this point; I have no idea whether Rand Paul will, upon arriving in Washington, instantaneously become a rank-and-file Republican or whether he will become a coalition of one on behalf of the dozens of wacky ultra-Libertarian-cryptoanarchists everywhere, I can see it going either way, honestly, but I expect he'll be disappointing tons of people whichever way it goes; good luck, as they say, with all that.

A common spin, I expect, is going to be that the Democrats no longer have the sixty votes they "needed," which would be swell if (a) the pretend filibuster wasn't a ridiculous artificial constraint the Senate has placed on itself and (b) the healthcare fiascoes of this past summer pretty effectively demonstrated the Democrats never had the sixty votes the Senate pretends they need to do anything without somebody pretending to block it. I'm not trying to spin anything; I sincerely don't see how the Democrats are worse off with fifty-one votes in the Senate and they can't get anything passed because of conservatives in their own ranks than they were when they had sixty votes (sometimes) and couldn't get anything passed because of conservatives in their own ranks. There is genuine confusion on my part, and don't bother trying to explain anything because I understand all of it except the part where politicians and most of the media take the arbitrary and absurd parliamentary procedures involved as actual things, as if various arcane rules have somehow fundamentally altered the nature of math; if you have a child in elementary school who is presented with a scenario in which Harry has fifty-one apples and Mitch forty-nine, and the student is asked who has more apples and responds, "Mitch," I'd say your child has a good shot of either repeating the first grade or being offered an op-ed job at The Washington Post. (That some number of Harry's apples may be rotten and inedible is another subject--"Health" or "Hygiene" or whatever they might call it these days.)

So, anyway, we'll see how this goes. Will the House teabaggers behave? Will Rand Paul request the Senate chaplain (and no, I don't get how that's exactly Constitutional, either, but c'est la vie say the old folks) be an avowed Aqua Buddhist? Will Alaska send Lisa Murkowski back to Washington or is Big Lake's Lisa Murrkowsky in for the surprise unexpected job promotion of her life? Will the House teabaggers behave themselves or act like total gits? Will Michele Bachmann make good on her threat to send endless subpoenas to the White House, or can we all just take the Administration's word for it that, yes, Bo has received his rabies shot and heartworm medicine? I have no fucking clue. Seriously.


For anyone wondering, Ilario Pantano lost his bid to become North Carolina's most gung-ho Congressman to ultraconservative Democrat incumbent Mike McIntyre. I think this one would have to be filed under "go with the evil you know": McIntyre is about as conservative as Pantano is and the men probably agree on more than they disagree, funnily enough (e.g. compare their positions on immigration here and here), but McIntyre doesn't, so far as I know, have the whole General Ripper-esque "then I became concerned about your Chinese commie, Mandrake" vibe going, especially not the part where he, you know, kind of hints maybe we should consider going to war with them, or at least ramping things up Cold War-ishly. Also, I sort of hate to be judgmental and you never know what you'd do in a terrible and terrifying situation, etc., but even if you allow that Pantano thought he was shooting a couple of dudes in self defense the first several times he shot them (in the back), the part where he reloaded his rifle and kept firing, plus the part where he left a sign on the corpses and had to be ordered to take it down... um... yeah. Moving on.

Also miscellaneous: I have a hypothesis about Christine O'Donnell, which I can't really get into because, um, well, it would be kind of libelous if it turns out I'm wrong, plus it would be nice to be wrong. But I do have to say I'll be curious about what she does next, and whether she stays in politics or migrates over to safer ground in punditry or color commentary or a similar career as a professional talking head. Or, for that matter, lays low a bit. My suspicion, such that it is, is that the teabaggers and the national media managed to totally and completely fuck her, and not in the losing-reclaimed-virginity sense (sorry!), unless you mean the losing-reclaimed-virginity-in-prison sense, in which case, um, maybe (sorrier!). Anyway, I'm curious, I am, I am.

POSTSCRIPT: Aha! Here's something I wondered about: in trying to figure out how badly last night went for the Democrats, my biggest question that I was too lazy to research for myself was, "What happened to the Blue Dogs?" A question which Glenn Greenwald has offered an answer to, citing HuffPo:

Blue Dog Coalition Crushed By GOP Wave Election

Tuesday was a tough night for Democrats, as they watched Republicans win enough seats to take back the House in the next Congress and began to ponder life under a likely House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). But one group hit especially hard was the Blue Dog Coalition, with half of its members losing their seats.

According to an analysis by The Huffington Post, 23 of the 46 Blue Dogs up for re-election went down on Tuesday. Notable losses included Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-S.D.), the coalition's co-chair for administration, and Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), the co-chair for policy. Two members were running for higher office (both lost), three were retiring and three races were still too close to call.

The Blue Dogs, a coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats in the House, have consistently frustrated their more progressive colleagues and activists within the party....

Half of the Blue Dog incumbents were defeated, and by themselves accounted for close to half of the Democratic losses.

(Original Huffington Post item here.)

Here's the (obvious) thing about that: from a wholly rational perspective, it's hard to see what the Republicans gained or Democrats lost in races where a consistently conservative Democrat was replaced by a presumably conservative Republican. I mean, in terms of any votes regarding taxes, healthcare, or any of the other policy things congressional Republicans have talked about doing or undoing, the vote count is what it was. Maybe. After all--and this is silver-lining things a bit--maybe liberals and moderates in both houses will waste less time now reaching out to conservatives (who probably aren't going to vote with them when all is said and done) just because those conservatives ostensibly caucus with the Democrats. The other maybe being that some of these new Republicans may not play well with their caucus, seeing as how a number of teabaggers have been bucking the suggestion that John Boehner will be able to get them to fall in line with the Republican establishment.

From an irrational perspective, of course, things may be different. Whatever else the Blue Dog Democrats were useless for, they probably were a bulwark against some of the crazier investigate/impeach notions of Bachmann et al. So there's that, I guess. Of course, I'm not sure how much traction the lunatic fringe of the lunatic bin has when it comes to that.

POSTSCRIPT #2: More thoughts on the Blue Dogs and the current "it's the left's fault" meme that's been bobbing around, from Digby:

Only 47% of the members of the Democratic "Blue Dog Coalition" won re-election. 95% of the members of the "Progressive Caucus" won re-election. We're divided, but not that way.

And just in case the media hasn't noticed, the Democrats still control one house of congress and the presidency.

I don't know if progressives who grumbled about staying home and sitting this one out actually did so, or did so where it mattered.

Again, I think it's debatable whether a Blue Dog losing to a teabagger is actually that significant a loss when you actually try to unspool the consequences. And I do mean debatable: e.g. the loss of the Speaker seat undeniably has an impact on setting the House's agenda, but then you get back around to whether setting the House agenda matters if conservative Democrats are going to vote against the agenda, to which you might reply that Speaker Pelosi still got a lot done anyway and Speaker Boehner will try to use the Speaker position to undo it, to which you might reply that much of what Pelosi achieved was rendered moot by the Senate and Boehner faces the same, to which one might respond... etc.

And, again, that's assuming (a) lefties boycotted those districts and (b) the teabag candidate wouldn't have won anyway.

Anyway, there it is for what it's worth.


neurondoc Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 12:25:00 PM EDT  

Thanks for verbalizing what I was thinking in a much clearer and more understandable way...

Leanright,  Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 2:39:00 AM EDT  

Eric, don't forget that the Tea Party backed Marco Rubio in the Florida senate race as well.

How on Gods green earth did a state like Nevada with astronomical foreclosures and horrible unemployment re-elect Harry Reid is beyond me. I will hold the Tea Party responsible for that. Sue Lowden would have been a far better candidate, and that's not just because I met her in Virginia City, NV last February.

In the "we can't win 'em all" category, California has elected a past failed Governor as it's next Governor. Jerry Brown just can't lose in this state, but when he is elected, the rest of us surely lose! Pension reform it the one of the BIGGEST issue here, and Brown will ensure it remains that way.

I'm not even going to start on Barbara Boxer. Can I call her a "Whore"? Apparently that's allowed now in California.

By the way Eric, I like the post, but as you know I don't see the world as you do. BUT, I have mad-respect for you.

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