It's the morning after the morning after. The Republicans are hung-over from all the parties yesterday, but it's time for the rest of us to stop crying over our whiskey and to sober up.
I'm not feeling particularly sorry or contrite today. The Republicans crowed "It's a tidal wave!" "It's an earthquake!' "It's a seismic shift!' all day yesterday (Jon Stewart pointed out that the Republicans love using natural disasters that kill thousands of people as victory metaphors), but was it really?
I notice that so many of the victories for both sides in the election were by narrow margins, and that a lot of races are still undecided this morning. The Republicans achieved a substantial, but not overwhelming, majority in the House. They failed to take the Senate. A potted plant could have beaten Harry Reid this year, he is so unpopular in his own state. And yet, his Republican challenger Sharon Angle lost. By all logic, the Republicans should have taken Delaware, but instead, they nominated a religious fanatic with a questionable past to run for Senate and lost to the Democrat by a 30 point margin. Formerly red state Colorado turned solid blue this year with substantial Democratic victories for the Senate and for governor. As another pundit pointed out, there were no real upsets this year.
This was nothing like the rerun of 1994 that the Republicans promised. It certainly wasn't 1980 either. It was a change of power in the House. It was not a sea change. Despite all the usual rhetoric about bipartisanship and coming together, nothing of the sort will happen, nor should it. In the language of the political mandarin class, "working together" is usually code for giving Republicans everything they want. When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, Dems should hold the line against Republicans who want to effectively repeal both. They should hang tough on efforts to turn back the clock on healthcare reform and regulation of the financial industry and on civil rights and labor rights.
In 1946, the Republicans handed then President Harry Truman his head on a platter in the midterm elections. Republicans took the House and Senate by huge margins, taking control of the legislature for the first time since 1928, throwing Sam Rayburn out of his long tenure as Speaker. There were all kinds of jokes along the lines of "to err is Truman" and about "the late Mr. Truman." According to Michael Beschloss, Truman ignored the broadcasts of election results, and spent election night playing poker with his staff. The next morning, far from being contrite, Truman announced that he was going to do whatever he damn well wanted. The pundits began writing Truman's political obituary and speculating what the administration of President Thomas E. Dewey will do in the wake of his inevitable victory in 1948.
Anyone remember how that election came out?
Why was this man smiling?