November 8, 2006
Or should that be "wither now...?"
So what's the plan for the three Republican bodies affected by this turn of the card? In my usual breathtakingly audacious and arrogant manner, I'm here to explain it all for you!
The Republican caucus in the House of Representatives
First, we're not down by much in either chamber. At the moment, Democrats have only a 12-seat majority in the House of Representatives, though that will probably go somewhat higher. The Democrats won't have much more than the Republicans have now... and as we've seen, a 15-vote majority -- when a good portion of the majority caucus doesn't share the goals, let alone support the methods of the party leadership -- can be like herding cats, as Sen. Trent Lott and a whole lot of other folks have said.
So the Republican strategy is clear: wedgie, wedgie, wedgie.
The House GOP caucus has to find as many wedge issues as possible to separate the very, very liberal Congressional leadership from the much more moderate, even betimes conservative Democrats who make up the rank and file of the majority. See if we can split some of them off to support, say, making the Bush tax cuts permanent, or drilling for more oil, or pushing hard for the non-carbon-burning alternative fuel known as nuclear fission, or doing something about illegal immigration, or cutting taxes and spending, or doing something about Social Security and Medicare... and of course, winning the war in Iraq, rather than giving up, going home, and handing a stunning victory to the jihadis.
The Republican caucus in the Senate
In the Senate, we still don't know the fate of either Montana or Virginia; we don't know for sure that the Democrats will capture a majority. But we must assume they will at this juncture. (If they don't, we'll make a new plan, Stan!)
We may not be able to get a senator to turn his spots like Jumpin' Jim Jeffords; but there is certainly a good chance to get one or three or fifteen to defy Sen. Harry Reid and vote with the Republicans on some issues. In such a thin minority -- one seat! -- party discipline will be critical for the Republicans. But we're not going to be able to get senators like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Charles Grassley, and Lindsay Graham -- not to mention the mischief-maker in chief, John McCain -- to go along with a hard-right, conservative agenda.
So we'll really have to pick and choose our fights; and confirming judicially conservative judges is a great place to start. Remember, not a single Republican senator voted against Chief Justice Roberts (and 22 Democrats joined in), and the only Republican senator to vote against Justice Samuel Alito is now packing his bags to head back to Rhode Island for a very long vacation; again, as with Roberts, Alito got Democratic votes: Sens. Robert Byrd (WV, 85%), Ben Nelson (NE, 55%), Kent Conrad (ND, 85%), and Tim Johnson (SD, 95%).
Republicans always hold together for conservative judges: it's a real party-loyalty builder. Make the Democrats go on record and try to defeat them... never give up, never surrender.
Republicans should make every effort to lure moderate Democrats into voting for President Bush's judicial nominees for the next two years, as well as for administration officials like John Bolton. But besides that, there are the same wedgies they can give the majority party as the House has.
Both Republican caucuses
What the Republicans have to do is (1) show discipline, (2) stand ready to capitalize on any missteps by the new Majority Leader and Squeaker of the House, (3) ruthlessly pursue an agenda of congressional reform -- eliminating earmarks, exposing anyone in either party who is in the same boat as Duke Cunningham or Rep. William Jefferson (and make a big point that the Democrats still haven't thrown Jefferson out of the caucus), and bang pots and pans for spending discipline.
The Democrats talk a good fight about cutting spending, but they don't really want to do it: they want to raise taxes to more than cover it, then spend even more wildly than the Republicans. The clock will be ticking for the Democrats; let's make sure they don't slip it into a back pocket. And hey... the Democrats were never shy about filibustering what they didn't like -- and the voters didn't hold it against them, did they?
Let's be philosophical; in 2006, all the stars were aligned against us. We had:
- The Abramoff scandals;
- The Randy "Duke" Cunningham scandal;
- The scandals in Ohio;
- The scandals in Pennsylvania (related to Abramoff);
- The Scandal in Bohemia... oh, wait, that was a Sherlock Holmes story;
- The Mark Foley scandal;
- The congressional earmarks scandal;
- The failure to enact meaningful immigration reform;
- The failure to rein in spending;
- The failure to win the Iraq War in a timely fashion;
- The "Gang of Fourteen," which prevented several jolly good judges from getting onto the bench;
- The infuriated conservative base, because of #s 8 though 11 above;
- The Tom DeLay indictment;
- Two safe Republican districts where the Republican running wasn't even on the ballot (because of the Tom DeLay indictment and the Mark Foley scandal -- both seats flipped);
- A GOP standard bearer with a 39% job-approval rating;
- And let us not forget... the traditional sixth-year itch: in 1986, Reagan's sixth-year election, the GOP lost 8 Senate seats and control of the Senate; and while they didn't lose as many House seats as this time, that was because they didn't have many to begin with: they went from a 182-253 minority to a 177-258 minority.
We just went through a "perfect storm" for the Democrats. You want to know how you can "beat something with nothing?" That's how.
Now, how many of those terrible problems will be hanging around Republican necks, like albatross bad-luck charms, in 2008? Probably none:
- The stench of these scandals will fade in two years, and it's harder to solicit a juicy bribe when we're in the minority.
- Nobody will blame the Republican minority for not fixing problems.
- The conservatives will have had a chance to look the Devil in the eye for a couple of years, and they'll come home.
- We'll have a new party standard bearer.
- Texas-22 and Florida-16 will actually have Republicans on the actual ballot! (And maybe even a token opponent in California's 35th district to run against Maxine Waters... unlike this time. How 'bout it, guys?)
- And most important -- we can go on the offensive against the Democrats, rather than having to defend the mediocre record of our own stewardship.
If we were fifty seats down, it would take many elections to claw our way back. But we'll only be down between 15 and 20 seats in the House, most likely, and only one seat in the Senate -- and that can be made up in a single good election.
To quote that great philosopher, Mr. Spock in "Amok Time":
[The Democrats] may find that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. This is not logical, but it is often true.
It's a lot easier to be in the large minority than to be in the small majority: for one thing, everyone will expect results from the Dems... but they'll have little more ability to do so than before winning Congress.
The biggest problem will be for the Democrats to come together. A lot of their newbies in the House are fairly moderate, even verging on conservative; about what are they going to agree with Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Appropriations Chairman John Murtha, Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, and the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence -- disgraced, impeached and convicted bribe-taker Alcee Hastings?
Minimum wage, stem-cell research, "fully implementing" the 9/11 Commission recommendations. All right... and what will they do on the second day?
American really like seeing the parties work together (I hate it, but it's popular with the others); so let's allow them to make the first move (heh). And if instead, the Democrats have any thoughts about finally getting to the bottom of all the lies and corruption and treason of the Bush administration... chuck it out the window, Macaca: that's the swiftest way to make sure their tenure in the majority is about 24 months long.
Republicans should be Republican: don't be afraid to fight; stand together as often as possible; give wedgies to the Democrats; and begin constructing a real Contract With America ver. 2008 right now: it will have to change to accomodate the eventual presidential nominee's own platform; but there's no reason not to come up with a new Contract planks anyway, in addition to whatever agenda Giuliani or Romney or whoever brings to the campaign.
And certainly never help override your own president's veto! If you turn on him, you will disgust Republican voters even further. Rather, support the president: you're not going to be able to enact a pristine, conservative agenda... you lost the friggin' election! So take a page from Reagan's playbook and accept half a loaf -- then use that as Ground Zero to start negotiations on the other half.
So you're a lame duck, right? Can't get anything enacted with a Democratic Congress? Yeah, right: tell it to Ronald Reagan!
Form a working majority on each major issue; it doesn't have to be the same majority each time: consult more frequently with Congress (both majority and minority), solicit their input, and then push for as conservative a policy as possible in the circumstances.
The GOP should back you; and all you need is to peel off a few of those new Democratic moderates. Who knows? You might actually be more effective as a "lame duck" than you were in your first six years.
Here's a thought: offer to dramatically increase funding for adult stem-cell research, placental stem-cell research, and even embryonic stem-cell research where the stem cells are extracted non-destructively... in exchange for new Integral Fast or Pebble-Bed nuclear reactors to start weaning us off oil and reduce our carbon output: I'll bet a lot of Democrats in Congress would find that an offer they cannot refuse.
But don't be afraid to veto; you know it'll be sustained, unless about 60 Republicans in the House and 16 in the Senate join in humiliating you. If the Democrats bottle up judges in committee -- bypass 'em with a series of recess appointment. You're not running in 2008; you can afford to be ruffle a few feathers.
Don't "grow in office." Republicans will despise you, and Democrats won't give you any love anyway.
Above all, don't back down on the Axis of Evil: you've got more power as Commander in Chief than in any other aspect of the presidency. Do not, under any circumstances, cut a Nixonian deal with the Democrats to withdraw our troops in defeat.
The country will suffer; the West will shrivel; and the Dems will betray you anyway.
Put them in the position of having to be the bad guys who try (and fail) to shoot down your tax-cut proposals, who attempt to veto sending enough troops into Baghdad to really make a difference, and whose wild spending bills you keep vetoing. Don't worry about embarassing them; it can only help. You're not after the leadership anyway... you're after the rank and file -- that's your secret weapon, that many Democrats really don't like the Democratic leadership and feel secretly embarassed to be associated with them.
Those are my thoughts. I'm sure many of our gentle readers will happily chime in with more good advice from fellow losers...!
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2006, at the time of 4:29 AM
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» Whither Now? from Risky Scheme
In a press release on his Offical Senatorial Website, Sen. John McCain had this to say about UN Ambassador John Bolton: “His resignation today is less a commentary on Mr. Bolton than on the state of affairs in the U.S. Senate. For over a year, Democ... [Read More]
Tracked on December 5, 2006 12:42 PM
The following hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA
Dafydd: "Let's be philosophical; in 2006, all the stars were aligned against us." and "... how many of those terrible problems will be hanging around Republican necks, like albatross bad-luck charms, in 2008?"
As a devil's advocate, the one caveat I would put on this upbeat observation is what Lynne Cheney calls the "hostile media". Right after the 2004 election I recall noticing that political coverage lost any remaining shreds of fairness. It was all anti-Repub, all the time. Reporters buckled down to save the world by undermining Repubs. I suspect that factor is important and will not change for 2008. There is widespread support by the citizens for limited gov't, color-blind gov't, and pro-American foreign policy that stands up to dictators but in some respects we are an underground movement. We do not get a fair presentation of our side.
Perhaps the days from now to 2008 will be dominated by stories of Repubs being criminalized and sent to jail for various thought crimes. As one Dem friend gloated to me, the new slogan is "eight years in office, ten in the pen".
The following hissed in response by: sanddog
Trying to see the silver lining here.......
It would be nice to imagine the republicans and conservative democrats will stand up to the shrieking moonbatism that's taken over the leadership of the left but I don't have a lot of optimism.
The following hissed in response by: Section9
Americans want both parties to work together. Bush will use this to his advantage. He will be concialiatory at home, but militant abroad. He'll force Democrats to support the troops. And the gravy train for Iran and its' allies is about to come to an end.
While this is happening, depend on Democrats to overreach in their McCarthyite witchhunts of the President. Nancy will find a way to become unpopular, because she will not contain the fury of her base.
The above hissed in response by: Section9 at November 8, 2006 7:50 AM
The following hissed in response by: sanddog
Americans want both parties to work together. Bush will use this to his advantage. He will be concialiatory at home, but militant abroad.
So, in other words, business as usual. The Republicans spent so much time trying to be "conciliatory" they forgot who brought them to the dance. An expansion of social programs and amnesty for select people who violate our laws didn't make me want to run out and wave the republican flag.
The following hissed in response by: nk
My own humble political hanger-on's two cents' worth: The Republicans must target the tossup house seats they lost starting now. They must choose a fair-haired boy in each district who will start immediately campaigning for 2008. This will have the two-fold effect of 1) making the Democrat who won by going right to stay on the right and 2) to weaken his record by forcing him to campaign instead of legislate. (The second is not as ignoble as it sounds because king log is generally better than king stork.) The Senate is a little different. The 23(?) Republican incumbents who will be up for re-election should immediately start strengthening their organizations and building up their campaign chests, and anticipate their challengers and try to undermine them at every turn. The Republican party must weed out the weak reeds now. If there are any Seven of Nines or Edmund Jordans lurking out there to sabotage the candidate, they must be found as soon as possible and the candidate made to fade away quietly long before the primary.
The above hissed in response by: nk at November 8, 2006 8:10 AM
The following hissed in response by: Big D
One of my favorite Spock quotes.
I was surprised at how many Democrats ran and won...as Republicans. I've heard of RINOs, now we have a substantial contingent of DINOs. I know, "yellow dog Democrats" is the accepted name, but we just had an election, everything changes.
Bush should just laugh the whole thing off. Seriously, this was Reagan's real secret weapon - humor in the face of adversity. It worked every time - let the other side blovate, and then with a small chuckle look in the camera and give the "get a load of this idiot" look.
The following hissed in response by: MTF
Good things may come of this defeat, not the least of which should be bigger interest in what Newt Gingrich has to say on policy matters.
Another very good thing that should come out of this is a free-for-all for party leadership, and change in the line-up. Change will be good.
Lastly, I'm eager to see what kind of politician Bush will turn out to be in the next two years. My hopes are not high, but his first move could really set the tone. My hope is that today sometime he'll send over a bill to make the tax cuts permanant. Let the new majority in the house start out their first day voting down tax cuts and sending the economy into a tailspin.
If Bush waffles on this, those cuts will simply sunset away and the Dems will never need to go on record at all, and the GOP will have los the chance to hold them to account. This is important, and it's in the President's hands!
The following hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu
Eh, I suppose the loss was inevitable, given the direction the party was headed. As P. J. O'Rourke noted, Republicans are the party that says government screws everything up and then gets themselves elected to prove it. Maybe some time in the cold will help them sober up.
On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if this is a Rovian plot. He couldhave used his hell-powers to force Diebold to deliver the election, but he held back. He's probably building up some fake credibility for the e-machines so that when Newt Gingrich is mysteriously elected for both the presidency and every seat in congress in 2008 it won't seem fishy.
After all, by that he'll have tricked the Democrats into authorizing human cloning, and there’ll be a Newt Army waiting in the wings.
The above hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu at November 8, 2006 9:54 AM
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
I think there might be trouble in paradise for the Democrats. Ellsworth really whipped Hostettler here. Ellsworth is pro military, pro life, pro gun, he supports the fence, he is concerned about "smut" and he sounds a lot more conservative than some of the Republicans out there. He has made a point of avoiding any discussion of Pelosi. How is this going to work? Baith and switch won't be that easy. He has to live with these people.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at November 8, 2006 11:14 AM
The following hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA
Are the Repubs already rolling over? It's not clear to me why Rumsfeld needs to resign.
There is a very sad post over at polipundit.com about how it must feel to our service members. The way the wind is blowing is clear, and who will want to be the last one killed in Iraq when it is only a matter of time till we bug out?
Such a noble effort on their part! Gotta love our military.
The following hissed in response by: tristero
From the original post: "The country will suffer; the West will shrivel; and the Dems will betray you anyway."
You're kidding right? Who is it that doesn't believe in America and its ability to change the world? You or the Democrats.
And, then from the comments: "It's not clear to me why Rumsfeld needs to resign."
Hello, what war have you been watching. Right/wrong, up/down, left/right, the war has been very poorly managed. Somebody should have been held accountable ages ago.
That's why the vote came out the way it did: accountability--for Iraq, scandals, etc.
Anyone remember one of the key virtues of the Contract with America? Anyone remember one of the pillars of the Bush campaigns: personal accountability.
The tragedy is that conservatives have lost an election and some still don't get it.
When McCain or Guilani win the nomination in two years and the presidency, they will demand to be held accountable and will take responsibility for solving America's problems. They won't whine about Democrats but will seek to exhibit bi-partisan leadership...
Remember why conservatives win; its not because they are not democrats, its because they advocate responsibility and accountability!
Just my 2 cents.
The following hissed in response by: BlackRedneck
There is cause for optimism but I have a few caveats. Lots of republicans are going to learn the wrong lesson. The house republicans stood their ground and got rolled because the republican base hated the senate amnesty plan. Now, Bush and the Democrats may be able to push through that plan. Dissin' the base yet again. I can only hope for gridlock for the next 2 years. Dems will be reluctant to have Bush take credit for anything.
Republicans tend to be saps. They start blabbing about taking the high road blah blah blah. At the first sign of trouble, they throw their party members under the bus. I'm astounded that Bush couldn't get his judges thru when he had a theoretical majority (the RINOs cut him off at the knees every chance the got). They let the dems filibuster! Then, they whined "we can't change the rules." Result - Bush gets rolled by the Gang of 14. SAPS! Watch how fast Reid will change the rules if it benefits him in any way.
I'm with Thomas Sowell, it's okay to follow the Marquis of Queensbury rules when you're in a boxing ring, but it's suicidal when you're walking down a dark alley. It's hard to vote for people who just fritter it all away.
The following hissed in response by: Big D
The Republicans won control of the house and senate, but at the cost of making the tent larger. It gave the illusion of control to the Republicans, without the ability to really satisfy the base.
The Democrats won by running lots of Republicans in Democratic clothing. They will be as tough to wrangle as the gang of 14 were. And Pelosi as their titular headmistress? Lotsa luck there.
One thing I don't get. What happened to all the vote fraud that the Republicans were supposed to do? Hmmmm? The whole topic seems to have just evaporated once the "right" side won the election.
The following hissed in response by: MTF
Other than on Iraq and the war on terror, I agree with BlackRedneck that the Republicans have mismanaged most of their agenda over the last couple of years, judges especially. Taxes got cut in the very early going, which is great, but in addition to getting rolled on judges we had to swallow that idiotic prescription drug plan, continuing problems with social security and a sunset provision on most of the tax reductions. Bush has managed some things very well indeed, like the GWOT thankfully, but on others the Dems have managed him. I hope he can establish a clear distinction between the GOP and Democrats going into the 2008 races.
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