THE DAY AFTER
Well, that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.
You can’t cut it any other way: the Republicans took it in the neck yesterday. It was a drubbing. But remember, it was a poor showing during an exemplary decade for Republicans. In 1994 and 1996 Republicans captured every low fruit on the political tree. There was not much left in terms of easy pickings. In 1992, who would have predicted that Republicans would become America’s majority party? Still, the only place Barbara Boxer should be a U.S. Senator is in the same anti-matter universe where Captain Kirk is evil and Spock wears a goatee.
Of course, the interesting question is always the “why.” Well, nobody really knows. Many of these elections were about local issues like gambling and education. Another factor is the fat-dumb-and-happy rule, which explains why 99% of incumbents won in the House — a new record. Republican governors knocked it out of the park yesterday, which some people think means that Republicanism at the state level is popular, but the beltway crowd is not. Those governors allegedly ran as moderates, which some people think means that “extreme” conservatism isn’t popular (good news for the Bushes and Lamar Alexander). Washington state’s affirmative-action ban passed handily, which some people think means conservative issues are still winners. Bill Clinton scared the dickens out of black voters with demogogic ads and union hacks drove them to the polls in record numbers. Some think this represents an anachronistic victory for old-style coalition Democratic machine politics.
And then there’s the impeachment issue. Obviously, the White House is saying this is a repudiation of the President’s enemies. Maybe. This election clearly is a repudiation of how the Republicans handled the Lewinsky scandal. Somehow, the Republicans let their last minute, weak-tea, targeted, dull, anti-Clinton ads be portrayed as extreme and divisive. Newt Gingrich, the man who said he was going to mention Clinton’s scandals during every speech and then stopped when the first negative poll came in, deserves much blame for letting Bill Clinton define the moral climate. Whether this loss is the result of Republicans being too timid or too severe is a worthy debate. I will say I meet far more conservatives than liberals who say they are disgusted with the Republicans. Then again, I travel in troglodytic circles.
Rich Lowry, National Review’s capo (actually I guess that’s still Mr. Buckley — somebody get me an organizational flow chart) said this morning on MSNBC’s Watch It! that it would have been better if the Republicans had narrowly lost. I agree (and not just because he signs my paychecks). That way, we could have flushed the entire Republican leadership (except Chris Cox). But more importantly, that would leave the Democrats to decide what to do about Bill.
George Stephanopoulos said this morning on Imus that Bill Clinton is likely to read the election results as saying he should be totally exonerated. Well, Clinton can overplay his hand, too. If Clinton crawls out of his doghouse and starts acting smug or like our moral leader, he’ll get a pretty vicious slap on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. And then there’s Ken Starr who can — now that the election is over — release new indictments, subpoenas, etc. . . .
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The really exciting news from yesterday was of course, the victory of Jesse “The Body” Ventura. A professional wrestler has been elected Governor of Minnesota, and he is probably the most popular politician in America today. The most popular wrestler today is the WCW’s Bill Goldberg, who, to put it delicately, defies many of the stereotypes associated with the name Goldberg. I don’t know what this means and I can’t wrestle to save my life, but I like this trend.
Today’s Washington Post gives John Glenn’s space commute a half-salute in its lead editorial, which reads like a space-filler for a late election-night. Which reminds me, last week I exhibited what I thought was considerable political courage. I admitted that I thought John Glenn’s flight was an uninspiring sham. I braced myself for a torrent of e-mail. I got a torrent, but it was all in agreement (except for a single lady who has a personal interest in osteoporosis research). As a result I started asking people what they thought. It turns out, I can’t find a single person who cares. But I did get one suggestion I like a lot. When Glenn splashes back down we should all put on ape costumes and bury the Statue of Liberty up to its neck. Now that would get me excited.