Friday, November 10, 2006

The Post-Mortem of An Election Gone Wrong

I don't typically do election post-mortems.

No, the extended gloating session following the 2004 election was more of a celebration than a post-mortem (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here to start).

I really haven't had time to digest everything that needs to be analyzed from the election due to work. But as I noted to some friends via email...

Winning probably would have been the worst thing politically for the GOP -- as a party, they now have the chance to see new leaders step up in the House (hello, Mike Pence) and Senate (Tom Coburn, who put out a statement that said, "This election does not show that voters have abandoned their belief in limited government; it shows that the Republican Party has abandoned them. In fact, these results represent the total failure of big government Republicanism."). A lot more is going to be heard from the Reaganites in particular. But I'm a little more worried for the fate of the war we're fighting -- not just in Iraq, either.

Look, it's inevitable that the rest of the world sees this as a repudiation of Bush's policies in full; maybe it is, but I can't help but notice that the Dems who won (Webb, Tester, Schuler, Casey, etc.) mostly pursued a moderate line of criticizing the war in Iraq, but not necessarily attacking things from the perspective that we have to withdraw. Hell, the one instance where you had a Dem attacking the war and one defending it, the one defending it (Lieberman) won. The real question politically is if Pelosi and Reid opt to follow Lieberman's example (or something close to it), or go off in another direction. The real question for the country is whether the perception that Bush is weak is read to mean that the country is weak abroad -- unfortunately, I can just picture Ahmadinejad opting to take his nuke hunt to the next level.

It's not reassuring when I see al-Qaeada gloating over the Rumsfeld resignation.

Here's the thing -- a lot of people have asked me why I don't seem all that upset over the loss of power by the GOP. Was it the fact that it wasn't the Presidency? Was it the fact that I wanted them to lose?

It's not either one. Truth be told, it would sting more if a Democrat were President, but only for reasons that also matter for the loss of Congressional control. And while the GOP deserved to lose, the Democrats were even more undeserving of a victory -- I mean that in the moral sense more than the political one, because politically, certain Dems (Rahm Emanual and Chuck Schumer at the head of the list) deserve credit.

Here's the thing liberals need to understand -- conservatives don't panic over the loss of government power. I'm a conservative who cares more than most, and even I'm not upset. Why? Because many other things are more important to conservatives. For most conservatives, the priorities in their life revolve around their family, their religion, their job, their friends, the local sports team, their next vacation, their 401k... at some point down the list, government appears, but only in so far as it impacts the things above. In most areas, liberals look for government to provide solutions to problems in their everyday life; conservatives just hope government stays the hell out of their way. As such, conservatives may worry when liberals take control of government, but the impact is muted until they do something to affect our daily lives -- like tax increases or new regulations. We can't worry about it until it happens. For those on the left, many are looking to government for a solution --losing the election means no solution for several more years. Conservatives figure they'll worry about the problem when it actually occurs. These are the reasons Republican Senators can concede honorably after losing by fewer than 10,00 votes, and conservatives can crack jokes about it.

That may also be true to many liberals out in the real world, but it doesn't sound like it every time an election ends badly for Democrats and we hear about liberals packing their bags for Canada, crying for secession or moaning about the rise of fascism in America. Trust me, if a prominent conservative bitches about the rise of socialism (more than they were doing before the election), he or she should get kicked in the groin. And none of us on the right are leaving these fair shores -- because even with Nancy Pelosi third in line for power, this is still the greatest country in the world. Besides, as I have admitted before, Nancy Pelosi may provide more comic relief now that she's fully in the spotlight than John Kerry did. I can appreciate that as a blogger.

Now, there is one area where conservatives are more likely than liberals to hope that government is vigorous -- national defense. In one sense, Congress doesn't matter as much in this area as the executive branch does -- the President is still the decider, as W. would put it. I recall writing this a couple years ago when explaining my vote for Bush over John Kerry...
Bush's leadership in the days following 9/11 was transendent. It was not, as some have claimed, something every President would have achieved. To be fair to the Democrats, Clinton might have achieved it. But Al Gore would not have done so. And John Kerry certainly would not have done so. It takes a lot to rally a nation to war. It is very difficult to do so when you're not willing to invest in the war personally. Kerry's not willing.

Kerry's instincts were wrong in the Cold War. He opposed Reagan's policies, policies which ended the Cold War early. He opposed the first Gulf War, for seemingly no reason that he's willing to defend. He only supported the current war in Iraq when it was politically expedient. I don't trust his instincts and I don't trust him to make the right choices, because he's been wrong so often. And because he's so willing to sell out his personal beliefs for politcal expedience, I don't think allies will trust him either. Clinton could lie and get away with it because he had personal charm. Kerry lacks personal charm, unless you're a rich heiress.

I think the best way to summarize Kerry's approach to the War on Terror is to look at choice for VP. Kerry could have chosen a number of Democrats with solid credentials on foreign policy and fighting the Terror War. Bill Richardson is a former U.N. Ambassador and a popular Hispanic governor of New Mexico. Bob Kerrey is a fellow veteran, a former governor, served in the Senate for many years and served on the 9/11 Commission. Wesley Clark is a retired general with countless accolades (not that I trust him in the least). Bob Graham, weird though he may be, had plenty of experience on intelligence issues in the Senate, not to mention executive experience in Florida. Joe Lieberman was out there. So was Dick Gephardt. Michael Dukakis in 1988 chose Lloyd Bentsen. Why couldn't Kerry choose Sam Nunn?

Instead, Kerry chose John Edwards. A one-term Senator from North Carolina whose greatest asset is the war chest of donations he brings from the trial lawyers. He can't even carry his home state in this election. And are you really comfortable with him as the man who would be hunting down Al Qaeada?
Bottom line, a party that nominated John Kerry for President is asking me to forget a lot when they ask me to trust them on national security. Since that same party has Nancy Pelosi in the speaker's chair, it's hard for me to believe that I should trust them, considering that Pelosi seems to believe the War on Terror is a one-front war in Afghanistan. And don't get me started on the fact that Congressional Democrats are going to be listening to advice from George McGovern. For some reason, I picture al-Qaeada terrorists quoting Sideshow Bob...

See, what's really scary is that there's a grain of truth in that.

Bottom line, I'm not really upset about losing. I'm worried about what might happen, but I'm always mildly worried about that, at least until I'm officially given dictatorial powers over this planet. In the meantime, there's plenty of things for me to actually get depressed about. After all, I am an Eagles fan.


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