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Friday, November 10, 2006

Democrats Seek the Mainstream

See, I actually believe the Democrats when they say they want to govern from the middle. I just think it's been so long since they've been anywhere near the mainstream, they don't know what it looks like any more. 1. Leading anti-war congressional Democrats have asked George McGovern to help them formulate the Democrat's Iraq exit policy. George McGovern! He could save himself a plane ride by just emailing his exit strategy: "Immediate unconditional surrender." 2. California Rep. Henry Waxman, who will investigate the Bush administration's running of the government, offers this reassuring glimpse of his concept of post-partisan cooperation: "I'm going to have an interesting time because the Government Reform Committee has jurisdiction over everything. The most difficult thing will be to pick and choose." 3. And then you've got to admire Rep. Charlie Rangel's bold articulation of his party's latest southern strategy, delivered as an insult to — you know, those poor benighted residents of the Magnolia state: "Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?" Ah, yes. Let the healing begin.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Nancy Goes Hawk Hunting

There's word that Pelosi intends to prevent colleagues who are hawkish on national security from getting important chairmanships. The speaker-to-be is said to be especially keen on punishing California Rep. Jane Harman for supporting the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act. Let's put this in perspective. With Dennis Kucinich ("Let's surrender as fast as possible") and Joe Lieberman ("We cannot afford simply to walk away") representing the Democratic Party's opinion range on Iraq, Harman edges much closer to Lieberman than Kucinich. On surveilliance: Harman argued that Bush's warrantless wiretapping program is essential to US national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities; yet she declared that the program goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which she was briefed. If such common sense centrism is anathema to Pelosi, the Democrats' newfound harmonic convergence will be short lived. Though hardly a surprise, Pelosi's disdain for Harman abounds in irony. Not surprising part: Many of the Dems who did their best to get rid of Lieberman revel in Kucinich's Blame America First mentality. Since Nancy needs to keep her kook-fringe left flank covered, why not throw Harman overboard early? Ironic part: Pelosi regularly pays lip service to her party's passion for "diversity." And so while she begins the kind of ideological purge that triumphant leftists always conduct against moderates, don't be surprised if Nancy cites "the need for inclusiveness" as the reason she's, um, including someone other than Harman.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Coburn Gets It

Sen. Tom Coburn weighs in with an excellent analysis:
The overriding theme of this election ... is that voters are more interested in changing the culture in Washington than changing course in Washington, D.C. This election was not a rejection of conservative principles per se, but a rejection of corrupt, complacent and incompetent government...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.
Read Coburn's entire statement here.

The Day After

Republicans ran as the Party of Reform, harking back to 1994 when they took over the House with a commitment to start explaining America to Washington again rather than the opposite. Twelve years later, what had they "reformed"? Republicans talked about reforming the "culture of corruption" that characterized their Democrat House predecessors. Twelve years later: Jack Abramoff. Congressional Republicans toyed with doing something serious about earmarks (spending measures tossed into appropriation bills by individual members of Congress), but they did too little too late. They railed about the need to tackle immigration but didn't follow through with convincing action. When President Bush proposed Social Security reform in 2005, House and Senate Republicans didn't pick up the cause. Moral of the story: Don't raise the issue of reform if you're not willing to follow through. Raising hopes only to dash those hopes is not an effective political two-step. Meanwhile, Democrats this season ran as common sense centrists. That was their message and it got through to former GOP voters who refused to rally to Karl Rove's familiar "Come home to your core values" message. Disenchanted Republicans and independents correctly realized that it was congressional Republicans who had abandoned core values, especially concerning government spending and integrity. The greater number of white evangelicals who voted Democrat yesterday say they did so because of Republican corruption. Whether newly empowered congressional Democrats will govern as centrists is doubtful at best. Pelosi says she'll govern from her party's "center." That doesn't exactly inspire confidence because the Democrats' center of gravity invariably involves raising taxes to pay for ineffective social programs, along with cutting defense and security spending in the name of "peace." House Democrats now have more than a voice; they've got a voting majority. Will they dare to vote to cut off funding for the war? Will there be a serious effort to impeach the president? America will be watching to see if Democrats can act responsibly or whether they go for revenge. Big picture: As the results sink in, it will be increasingly clear that this election was a defeat not for conservatism but for Republicanism. And this election was no victory for liberalism as a governing philosophy. Amazingly, Democrats were able to campaign as the party of fiscal discipline. This message worked because Republicans seemed moonstruck with the virtues of big government. Conservatives can take heart to this extent: I know of no state where voters said yes to gay marriage, yes to racial preferences, yes to partial-birth abortion, yes to empowering coercive centralized, bureaucratic, "service providing" government elites. There's an axiom that says Republicans do best when they lose power because this helps them recall Reagan's genius for articulating precisely how and why government is most often the problem, not the solution. Republicans are sorely mistaken if they believe they'll take the White House in 2008 simply by running against Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. Their only hope is to return to their limited government roots. That's easier when they're not defending power and privilege on Capitol Hill. So it's not a great day for Republicans, unless they decide to look at the election as a wake up call. The real measure of an effective wake up call isn't the ringing but the response. It only works if you wake up.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Election

The Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives by searching out and recruiting a strong team of moderate and conservative candidates who steered clear of hot-button cultural issues like abortion, homosexual marriage, and affirmative action. These candidates hammered their Republican opponents on scandal, excessive spending, economic anxiety, and the need to resolve our involvement in Iraq. If anyone thinks the results constitute a mandate for big government, higher taxes, gay marriage, late-term abortions, or a new regime of racial preferences, please feel free to make your case. Ultra-conservative Rick Santorum went down in Pennsylvania — but to an anti-abortion Democrat. I will be surprised if proponents of same-sex marriage will cheer the results of the various state referenda on that issue, and I'm guess that Michigan will join California and Washington in saying no to racial preferences in state policy. In 2004, white evangelical voters broke for Bush at 78 percent, Kerry at 21 percent. This year, fully one-third of those voters chose Democrat candidates. "Corruption" is the main issue they cited for turning away from the GOP. Not surprising, for voters who say values are predominant in their minds when they go to the polls. If Democrats had run their usual anti-gun, anti-mainstream-values candidates, the GOP base would have been more motivated to support Republicans. Iraq? The Democrats are too savvy to follow through on their cut-and-run agenda, because that would mean surrender to an enemy that is bent on destroying this country. Dems will wait to see what the James Baker task force says, and for that matter, Bush is waiting for that as well. I believe Baker's findings will provide the basis for a bipartisan consensus on Iraq. Look to Joe Lieberman to show real leadership here. Here's the main message about this election. On cultural issues like gay marriage and affirmative action, Americans affirmed conservative values. Democrats were smart enough to avoid the cultural issues this time, focusing instead on corruption and the war, sounding themes of economic populism, a la Lou Dobbs at CNN. If anything, these newly elected Democrats are not part of the Bill Clinton/George W. Bush NAFTA mindset. But that's very different from saying America embraced the left by electing these Democrats. Americans did no such thing, and these newly elected Democrats aren't radicals. But of course there are more than a few fire-breathing Democrat leftists in the House, most of them well over 70 years old and bitter from their congressional minority status these past twelve years. Nancy Pelosi knows that she can't govern with the radical values of San Francisco liberalism. So she says she looking ahead, not looking to the past. That's her way of telling extreme partisan Democrats like Conyers, Rangel, and Kucinich not to get crazy about issuing subpoenas to the Bush administration, not to start down the road to impeaching the president. These guys, however, ain't in a moderate mood. They hate Bush as much as Democrats hated Nixon three decades ago, and they mean to make the last two years of his term absolutely miserable. Oh, and by the way. Republicans need to do some serious soul-searching. If they want to keep governing like Democrats-lite, conservatives will continue leaving the bus. They didn't ride this time, and they don't want to get on board with the Democratic Party. But they need a reason to get excited about being a Republican, in the way that Reagan got them excited. Here's a first step. Lose Dennis Hastert as your House leader. Get serious about fighting for secure borders, which of course means Republicans of principle must stand against a likely pro-amnesty approach not only from the Democrats but from the White House. Depressing, but true. This final note, actually a confession. I predicted that Republicans would hold both houses. So far I'm mistaken by half. No, make that fifty percent accurate. Virginia is hanging by a thread; Missouri and Montana are far from settled. I'll chime in again Wednesday.