My mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, offered eight thoughts on last night’s results…
1) 2008’S OUTCOME AND THE BANKING CRISIS AND STOCK MARKET CRASHES – The media talk was wrong, the media talk that had gone on all year and reached its height in the summer and early September about an irresistable Democratic trend and unstoppable Obama. After a successful Republican convention and a week of campaigning by McCain-Palin capped by Obama ‘s “lipstick on a pig” gaffe, McCain had a nice national lead and one so strong in Ohio there were rumors Obama was pulling out. For purposes of perspective on last night’s results, it’s good to remember some of McCain’s numbers in various polls that second week in September:
North Carolina: + 18
Georgia: + 18
Oklahoma: + 31
Idaho: + 39
New Jersey: – 3
New York: – 6
Michigan – dead heat
Wisc –dead heat
Minnesota — tied.
And the Gallup poll released September 11 showed a GOP five point lead in the generic question which could have translated into twenty to thirty seat pickup.
2) HARD TO CALL – This Fall’s political environment was unprecedented — an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression. So there was no prior experience to fall back on. Campaign Spot readers and loyal Jedi warriors wanted Obi to make his unapologetic predictions of the past. That prediction was impossible. What could be said was that McCain was still very much in it despite the burdens he faced, including everyone’s 401(k) turning to cinders.
3) MCCAIN CAME BACK – Striding into one of the worst political headwinds ever McCain actually staged a comeback. A week after his last debate performance, his “Joe the Plumber” initiative and excellent performance at the Al Smith dinner in New York, four good polls showed him one or two points away from a lead. Even Rasmussen, who still gave Obama a four point advantage, noted McCain was shaving the Democrat’s national lead and had moved back into a slight lead in Florida and Ohio. Then came more days of market crash. Yet, even after that, the survey data showed undecided voters were inclined towards McCain but also wanted to vote their frustration and anger over the economy and were inclined, rightly or wrongly, to take it out on Bush and the GOP.
4) THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IS A BLUNT BUT ULTIMATELY BENEFICENT INSTRUMENT – One place your Obi worked for Barry in 1964 was the New Hampshire primary and he vividly remembers that loss and then the carnage in November. (Even Sooners Coach Bud Wilkinson, one of the state’s religious figures, lost a Senate bid in Oklahoma.) But two years later came a GOP blowout marked by Ronald Reagan’s first election to political office. And back in ‘76 some of us thought nothing was more important than electing Jerry Ford. But defeat that year ultimately led to a new Republican party and the Reagan era.
So when you ask: How could the American people do this? Don’t they know what they are getting? Well, unfortunately the blunt instrument approach — shock therapy — is like that. Lots of collateral damage in the hope the GOP will get itself together and give America a better time, a newer era.
6) FIGHT HARD; FIGHT FROM THE START TO STOP THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE – So the problem with the blunt instrument is the unintended consequences. The 1964 results meant the social tragedy, especially for the poor, of the Great Society programs. The 1974 Democratic Congressional blowout cost 13 million South Vietnamese their freedom. The 1976 defeat meant Carter era malaise at home and one of the most perilous periods for U.S, national security.
The liberals in Congress will soon push to discourage entrepreneurship and economic growth, nationalize the medical system, weaken the military, use state power to coerce Americans into removing mentions of God from the public square, accepting abortion on demand and the altering the definition of marriage. And an early test for President Obama will be his reaction to pressure in two areas from his own party that may brand his administration early as decidedly leftist. He will be pushed to take various measures to stifle dissent through enacting the Fairness Doctrine and ending the secret ballot in union elections. And he will be pushed to make a decision that cost the newly elected President Clinton his honeymoon period — changing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy about gays in the military. On all of this, the congressional liberals and their media allies will be unrelenting. And yet all this represents opportunity for the GOP. The last Congress was the most unpopular in history because of its radical liberalism. Yet the GOP failed entirely to enumerate for voters that Congress’s transgressions. That opportunity is coming again.
Also, the liberals know that neither in 2006 nor 2008 did the American people vote for the left-wing agenda. They are hoping conservatives will again go along after some polite demurrals. So, if loud and noisy but enlightened opposition is offered at every turn, much of the collateral damage can be avoided. And the American people will see the real agenda of the liberal elites.
7) REJOICE — Electing an African American president closes a painful but proud chapter in American history. What a country.
8 ) TOUJOURS L’AUDACE –We gather our armies. We go forward.