Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Morning After

It was a rough fight with no clear winner, except John Boehner who can finally claim the throne of Speaker of the House, bringing his buddy Eric Cantor in as Majority Leader.  An ugly combination that will ruthlessly fight Obama the next two years.  But, the consolation for the Democrats is retaining the Senate, so there isn't much the House can do except make a big stink.

The Tea Party managed to win a few key seats as Republicans, but Palin's "Grizzly Moms" didn't fair so well, which I think is a repudiation of Palin's influence over the GOP.  In the end, the election shook out pretty much along traditional party lines, with the GOP regaining seats throughout the South and West, and picking up a few in the Midwest, while the Democrats held their ground in key Blue States.   The same old intractable politics.


  1. I look at the money that was spent on this campaign, notably Whitman's bid for governor of California, and you have to wonder what if any campaign reform has been introduced. I guess one can take heart in the fact that Brown beat Whitman convincingly, repudiating the idea that business can run government more effectively. This was also true for Boxer who fought off Fiorina, the discredited former CEO of HP.

    But, unfortunately the Republicans gained ground elsewhere and we will have to endure one of the most unsavory politicians in recent American history for at least two years as John Boehner becomes House Speaker.

    What gets me is how Americans can so easily turn back to Republican leaders two short years after a debacle that was a direct result of Republican leadership. Are memories that fleeting?

  2. Elections like this one make me glad we have a Senate, and that there is a 60 vote rule, otherwise much of what we would have seen passed between 2008 and 2010 would have gone to waste.

  3. Here in the south, Republicans reign supreme. Our new governor has been lining his pockets at taxpayers' expense for years and he was elected convincingly. It's difficult for a democrat to get elected dog catcher in this state.

  4. Talk about the irony of history. Who would think all those good Southern folks would associate themselves with the Republican Party, even with the memory of the Civil War still burning in their veins.

  5. I find it amusing that after a election like this anyone can talk about compromise,

    The Republicans see this victory as nothing less than a repudiation of the Obama administration, and the Democrats better understand that there will be no spirit of compromise in the two years ahead, but rather a bunch of political grandstanding on the road to 2012.

  6. Mitch McConnell says the top priority is to deny Obama a second term, so don't expect much compromising this time around either. Very disheartening.

  7. When hasn't that been the Republicans' number one priority when a Democrat is in the White House?

  8. I live in a red state so elections are a depressing time (although Dallas County is more blue than not). Thus Harry Reid's victory was the high point in the wee hours for me. His acceptance speech rambled and seemed amateurish. I really think he hadn't prepared a speech for "after". Of course his mild, poker face belied nothing. Great guy. I like him.

  9. When hasn't that been the Republicans' number one priority when a Democrat is in the White House?

    Apparently they regretted compromising with Clinton which they think helped get him reelected. They don't want to go down that path again.

    Larch, nice to see you here. Living in another reddish state I am always depressed by the outcome -- we have one of the worst right-winger reps and he always gets reelected.

    I was cheering for Reid but, to be honest, I couldn't listen to his debate with Angle -- I listened to him for about a minute -- and turned the t.v. off again when he was about to give his speech last night. Still, good to see him turn back the real nut case.

  10. Reid is 100% for the average joe and 110% for the underclass, so I can readily forgive him the lack of oratorical skills. Who I can't forgive is the majority SCOTUS deciders in Citizens United, who are enabling a lot more obfuscation in future campaigns.

  11. I liked Reid's speech, although it was long. I'd never seen him smile like that before.

    Obama said it was "humbling" and that he would compromise with Republicans. He's been compromising all along, and the healthcare bill WAS a compromise.

  12. I find it very frightening that 500 separate federal choices were made yesterday at the cost of about 4 billion dollars in adverising. That means that there was enough money expended to give eah victor 40million dollars each. Why don't we just give each candidate $ 20,000,000 and end the agony right after the last primary and have the candidate announce to whom he sold his votes to--and have the money men declare who the real winner is--just have each candidate put themselves up for bidding.. The present system invites gross corruption and something needs to be done about before democracy and capitalism are destroyed in the process.

  13. unfettwred capitalim is destroying the electoral system and a way has to be found to curtail contribution and spending before we wake up to an entire Congress bought and paid for through s form of legalized bribery. There is something obscene about campaigns spending $ 40,000,000 for a job yielding about 1,000,000 over a six year period of time. Ideology has nothing to do with it...How much will it take under this system to elect the nex president? Have we all gone crazy? This is obscene!!!!

  14. I find it difficult to understand the electorate these days. Why are so many incapable of connecting the dots? Tea Partiers made much of their desire to "take our government back," but their efforts were bankrolled in large part by fat cats and corporate interests. A woman was complaining today that the Health Care Plan makes it too difficult for doctors and insurance companies to make a profit. I hadn't heard that either of those groups was hurting. It makes me wanna holler.

  15. If there was any real bright spot, it was Brown turning back Whitman in California. She outspent him 10 to 1 (at the very least) putting up $140 mil of her own money. It was essentially Brown v. ebay. Boxer beating Fiorina was another bright spot for me, as Fiorina also had money to burn in that election and lost. But, I doubt this will encourage others to mount grass roots campaigns.

    As for Reid, the way he handled the health care bill was atrocious. He didn't show much sympathy for the common man in that case. Instead, he let the bill be chewed to bits in subcommittees until it was almost nothing left but bones, and then didn't have the guts to push the carcass through after Pelosi had gotten this compromised bill through the House. Obama had to step in for him. The best thing he could do for the Dems is step down as Senate leader now that he has regained his seat.

  16. Robert: The same thing is happening in Australian elections,but,pace Gintaras, the pleasing thing is the victories of Labor and Green candidates who knock on doors, speak to small gatherings, meet people outside schools ,at railway stations etc. Participatory denocracy works!

  17. It appears to me that the high profile Senate races in Nevada, California, Delaware and Connecticut may have been Trojan horses (or should I say Athenian horses) drawing Democratic attention and money to these races, while the Republicans mopped up in the House and state races, which went largely ignored by the media.

  18. Looks like Bennett and Murray will hold onto their Senate seats in Colorado and Washington. Curious what Murkowski calls herself if she wins her write-in campaign in Alaska. I suppose she will still regard herself as Republican. I have to say I am glad she beat Joe Miller, who is truly a repugnant figure.

    Final Senate score: Dems 53 Repugs 47.

  19. George, I would dearly love to see more participatory democracy in America, but with the recent Supreme Court ruling, it is easier than ever for corporations to funnel money into their favorite candidates' campaigns. By extending "free speech" to corporations, the SC essentially gave corporations individual rights, if you can imagine that.

    California is an anomoly and not the norm in America, unfortunately.

  20. This article reinforces the "surge strategy" the Republicans adopted for the House races, supposedly to offset funding "disadvantages,"

    atleast $50 mil was poured into 50-60 key House races, which averages out to about $1 mil each. A staggering sum, which I seriously doubt the Dems were able to match in kind.

    This national effort belies the typically local nature of House races.

  21. Thinking about the lessons the Republicans learned during the Clinton era, it seems like we are in for very tough times ahead.

    When the Democrats take partial power, the Republicans work hard to make sure the Democrats can't get anything done. When the Republicans take power, they work hard to ram through more tax cuts for the rich and less regulation for corporations so that the average American can get his/her "freedom" back.

    There will be no investment in the country -- keep government off your back -- and more jobs and the last of our natural resources will go abroad. Oh, and I'm sure there will be a few more "Bush-doctrine" wars. Very scary prospect for the future.

  22. George, I am one of those who volunteers 100s of hours during elections, and I believe it does make a difference.

    But the Bush era really did open my eyes to how easily a committed government can marginalize dissent. They were the ones, after all, who came up with the "support our troops" mantra and those stupid yellow ribbons (made in China) - they who sent these young people off to war without proper equipment and armor or adequate health care when they returned.

    This is another area where Obama has had little recognition -- he has funded VA hospitals and proposed (I'm assuming this went through) improving the GI bill for education.

  23. Reading the section in Woodward about Obama going to Dover was, in spite of Woodward's hasty writing style, very moving. Bush wanted the corpses hidden away.

    I recently read an interesting article about how the photos of Matthew Brady showed the horrors of war (even if they were staged). War has really become sanitized now.

  24. It is scary how gullible Americans are in this regard, falling for the same rhetoric each and every time.

  25. Interesting article about how it was done:

  26. You read articles like that, av, and you realize politics is a constant fight. The Democrats thought their House majority unassailable and were looking ahead to 2012. Now, we are stuck with a split Congress. Party discipline is essential.

  27. It was interesting to read how Republicans were even threatened with no support -- no welfare candidates. I loved that (as scary as it is)! You represent the richest Americans -- now get out there and get their financial support.

    (and interesting overview of some of the recent books on this topic:,0,2769863.story)

    The idea that stuck with me during the post-election analysis was that the Democrats are the party that believes in the good government can do -- so they have to demonstrate that good by using government to get things done. I think this is where they failed this past two years -- and in the messaging component.

    They needed that 3x5 card with three or four big ideas that Clinton talked about during the election. But that doesn't seem in the Democratic dna, alas.

    Plus, looking at turnout, the young and minority voters just didn't turn out in big enough numbers to overcome the older, white, conservative voters who want to keep government out of their medicare. Also scary.

  28. I suppose the idea of taking over the House was born back then, but it was pretty hard to take it seriously. What interests me is the fascist tone that was adopted. McConnell was not quite so harsh on his fellow Republican Senators, which is why I suppose he had a few defections over the last two years. Maybe he will toughen up this time around, despite his friendship with Harry Reid.

    If the Dems adopted a similar strategy there would be hell to pay, but the Republicans can get away with it no problem. All in a day's work for them, as they don't really seem to value Democracy anyway. What they would prefer is an authoritarian regime, having invested so much power in the executive last time around.

    If Obama thinks he can work with these thugs than all I can say is that he is incredibly deluded. He will go down just like Jimmy Carter did in 1980. You have to stand up to them like he did in Anapolis this past January. He has to fight for every measure, and use the EPA to get tougher environmental regulations, bypassing the House all together. No point even discussing the matter with them.

  29. Someone made a similar comment about Boehner crying on camera the other night -- I guess he does this often. Can you imagine Rush and Bill letting that slide if it had been Pelosi or Reid getting all emotional? With all the republican "man up" rhetoric?

    Another point that Rachel Maddow noted earlier, which I thought was right on the mark, was how all the loaded racist language didn't seem to come back to haunt Republicans in their campaigns -- at least not initially -- like it did for that republican from Virginia and his "makaka" (how ever you spell that) remark. Seems like the republicans think they can get away with just about anything now.

    Who would have thought it would be worse now than when Bush was in control?

  30. I think Obama has achieved what he has to date by not being confrontational -- but by working to find common ground. I think that's demonstrated in his entire upbringing.

    You see that even in Woodward with his agreement to escalate the war in Afghanistan. He wants to find a way to keep the military on board (and sort of unstated but clear -- keep them from resigning on him) while still having a strategy in the end to bring the troops home.

    Confrontation may not be in his tool kit as they say.

  31. It was easier to seek compromises when all you had to do was sway one or two Republicans in the Senate to give you the 60 votes you needed to pass the stimulus bill or banking regulations. Quite another when you have to convince 7 or 8 to go against the party line. Either Obama accepts gridlock or he finds it in himself to exercise greater executive authority. Democrats are looking for the latter.

  32. ''Either Obama accepts gridlock or he finds it in himself to exercise greater executive authority. Democrats are looking for the latter. ''

    Obama could have taken this initiative a long time ago but, as is usual for Democrats, chose to allow Republicans to take all the initiative.

    82% of the Federal deficit was created by Republicans. But the Tea Baggers blame Obama while he and his party stupidly chooses to allow them to say those lies. Meantime as president he has the authority to call in the $12 to 20 trillion that has been sheltered overseas by the wealthy elites who are succeeding in destroying this country. This capital could easily have been used to end the deficit, finance the rebuilding of the infrastructure, and salted away enough money to finance all future needs. But again he stupidly chose not to do so. To make matter worse, the Democrats refuse to force him to do it while the Tea Baggers make political hay out of the idea Dems caused the deficit.

    Well, if the Dems chose to be stupid so be it. Obama could have ended the recession in one minute had he chosen to call in that capital without increasing taxes by one cent. Therefore, the Dems can kiss their leadership in Congress good bye. As always, victory is a matter of choice. And as always, Dems make the wrong choices.

  33. I didn't watch Obama's press conference on Nov. 3rd, but I just saw what The Daily Show used from it. Some of the press's questions were just rude and stupid. Someone asked him why doesn't "get it." He took about an hour of abuse.

  34. Actually, Obama was calm and poised, showing a contrition no Republican would ever show in the wake of such a "defeat," and most of the questions were politely presented. About the only thing he really has to make an apology for is not getting the message out to voters soon enough. As Trip said, the Dems let the Repugs define the midterm elections.

    I don't know if Obama can call in that much money, but the administration has agreements now with Switzerland and other countries to freeze assets of Americans who don't pay taxes, and has done so. What the US has to do is tighten up on offshore companies. This has been a favorite shelter for many years.

  35. ''took an hour of abuse''

    When the Dixie Chicks made a joke about Bush, they were attacked, ridiculed, and harassed to no end. By comparison, Obama has been attacked ten thousand times worse and the Democrats sit there like a bunch of petrified sissies and invite the abusers to attack them even more.

    Stupid is as stupid does. It's all a matter of choice and the Democrats refuse to change their sissy ways.

    As for shelters, the president can declare an economic emergency and call in all the money held overseas. All of it. Therefore, Obama could have ended the recession if he wanted to and the past 2 elections could have been won easily. Again, he and the Democrats refused to make the right choice.

  36. I really am surprised the Obama hasn't taken more exception to the slanderous comments made against him. He prefers to take these matters lightly (sticks and stones) and as a result invites ever more abuse.

    I think the Dems were counting on a stronger economy to buoy them in the elections, but with the continuing high unemployment rate and number of foreclosures the economy was an easy mark this election.

    But, you have to admit Trip, that if Obama had adopted such a draconian policy to deal with the debt crisis, you would have seen an even bigger backlash.

  37. ''you would have seen an even bigger backlash''

    Roosevelt and Lincoln faced bigger attacks and did so boldly. Obama is clearly too timid for the task at hand.

  38. Well, Lincoln bent over backward to appease the border states to keep them in the union, to the point that the Emancipation Proclamation didn't apply to Kentucky, Delaware and Maryland until after the war. As it was, it took him 2 years to issue it, and many historians feel it was only to keep the European countries out of the war. Lincoln also took Andrew Johnson as VP in an effort to stave off a challenge from McClellan.

    Roosevelt wasn't above placating the "Regular Republicans," although he maintained his famous bluster throughout. He certainly wouldn't have gone to the lengths you describe to pay off the debt, and I doubt either would have Lincoln.

  39. Seems Murkowski has nailed down Alaska. CW suggested she will caucus with the Republicans but maintain her "independent judgement."

    While the House losses were staggering, the Senate remains firmly in control of the Democrats. More than ever Obama needs to hold his ground, not give into Republican demands which will only support their positions in 2012.

    This is the time for tough, smart politics. Every move counts. He needed belabor the House losses one more minute, but concentrate on exercise more executive authority.

  40. ''2 years''

    Obama has now been in office for two years and has not begun to demonstrate any such boldness. Quite the contrary, he has declared he will acquiesce even more so.

    ''wouldn't have gone to the lengths ''

    Roosevelt was willing to do this:

    And this so to gold or any other property that he deemed of use to the government in its quest to correct the Great Depression. For this he was condemned by the right wing but he would not be stopped. Therefore, if he was around today I would gladly bet he would do whatever it took to fix the mess created by Bush. If I was prez, I would so so in one minute without the slightest fear or hesitation.

  41. I don't think it really does any justice to the situation by saying so an so would have done this or done that. I think Obama had a relatively successful first two years, and the last Congressional session was one of the most productive in modern history. Sadly, the Democrats failed to communicate this to the electorate. They allowed themselves to be painted in the darkest terms by the Republicans, waiting until too late to stem the tide, especially at the state level, where they lost major elections.

    I suppose the problems were more deep rooted in Pennsylania, Ohio and Michigan, and there wasn't much the Democrats could do in these troubled states. All had seen 4-8 years of Democratic rule with nothing much to show for it, so it wasn't all that surprising that Republican governors won.

    Nice to see that the Dems gained back California and shored up New York, but these have long been traditional Democratic states. The 2012 election will be won in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and/or Florida, and the Republicans now control all four.

  42. As goes California, goes the nation, Gintaras. I'm hoping the best for Brown. Talk about inheriting a sinking ship!

    As for Obama, I haven't yet given up. He is a very smart man and may figure something out. There is a lot to do about messaging, but they also seem to lack the really great communicators, too -- which should be Obama's strength.

    After listening to Rachel Maddow sing the praises of Nancy Pelosi's accomplishments the other night -- and I totally agree with her and think it was largely Pelosi's accomplishments that achieved those small steps forward -- she really isn't the right person to speak for the Democrats. She even rubs me the wrong way, and I'm in theory her base. (Ahem, ditto Reid.)

    But sadly, I don't see any other Democrat who can get the job done and still relate to the rest of America. She apparently was willing to step aside for Chris Van Hollen, who isn't exactly inspiring -- and house members apparently agreed, not willing to support him.

    I have found listening to Jim Clyburn extremely helpful in defining issues, but I don't think he's dynamic enough to be the leader.

    It would really help if they had someone out there selling what they are trying to accomplish (and what the Republicans are trying to sell, too).

  43. Sadly, California no longer leads the nation. It is like an island onto itself. The whole West Coast for that matter.

    I haven't given up on Obama either, but he has to more effectively communicate his agenda to the public. He has to campaign throughout these next two years. Legislative accomplishments aren't enough.

  44. Seems like Nancy Pelosi could be the next casualty of the midterm elections fallout. Alot of Democrats don't want to hold onto her as Minority Leader. Find her to divisive.

    I thought she was the best person the Democrats had these past four years, standing up for the health care bill and other key issues, and pretty much keeping the House Dems in line.

    But, I guess the Dems want a new look for 2012.

  45. Seems all's fair in love and war and politics,

    Miller proving to be the bitter loser everyone expected, dragging out the Alaska write-in ballot count as long as possible.