David Rodeback's Blog

Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

Normal Version

Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Every Game Is an Away Game

It was a defeat, not a disaster. I blame the Republicans on Capitol Hill more than the voters. They forgot that for them every game is an away game.

A Defeat, not a Disaster

As I write, it is clear that the Democrats picked up at least a dozen more seats in the US House of Representatives yesterday than they needed to take control. Several races are still in doubt, but not enough to change this basic outcome.

Senate races in Missouri and Montana are still too close to call this morning, according to the Big Media Acronyms (BMA). But Democrats lead in both at the moment, and, without some real surprise, they will remain in the lead. It's not likely that still-uncounted precincts or absentee ballots will be enough to close the gaps. Nor is it likely that large-scale, heavily-lopsided voter fraud will (or even could) be revealed and proven quickly enough to make a difference, even if such fraud happened. Nor will bags of misplaced, previously uncounted absentee ballots be found in musty closets in heavily Republican districts; that only happens in heavily Democratic districts. Counting two independents who are for practical purposes Democrats, the Democrats will have a 51-49 majority.

These slim majorities are far from veto-proof, and such a narrow Senate majority certainly is not filibuster-proof. In the Senate, where Democrat (running as independent) Joseph Lieberman actually understands what the war is about, the Democrats probably don't even have a majority on that issue, unless some Republicans defect.

Maybe the Republicans should offer Lieberman the chair of any committee he chooses, if he'll switch parties.

If You Want to Blame Someone . . .

As a conservative and a Republican, I am disappointed by yesterday's results, but not surprised. These are actually smaller shifts than are common in midterm elections in presidents' second terms. Moreover, I am disgusted -- more with the Republican Party than with the voters -- but not in despair. We'll need to see more leadership and more vetoes from the White House, but the conditions which have spurred economic growth (despite September 11 and Katrina) and sustained the necessary war against Islamic Fascism are not seriously compromised.

As I see it, we will pick up where we left off before the election. The Republicans didn't deserve to win, and the Democrats are not fit to govern. I'm not sure the Republicans are smart enough to fix their part of that in time for 2008, but I suspect that the actual realities of governing will sober up the Democrats to some degree. The election of some relatively moderate Democrats may help adult sensibilities prevail. Some gleeful partisans will probably still try to impeach President Bush and try to force surrender in the war, and they'll be in an even better position to obstruct judicial nominations, but they don't have the White House. John Podhoretz says that yesterday was the end of the Bush presidency, but I think it will be more of a new beginning.

I think the voters made some foolish and short-sighted decisions yesterday, but let's face facts. The Republicans didn't exactly encourage the nation to vote for them. I will explain.

Away Games

When an athletic team goes on the road to play a capable opponent -- and make no mistake, politically the Democrats are capable, cunning, and ruthless -- it expects certain difficulties which it usually does not experience at home games. The crowd may be loud enough to impede communication. It may even be abusive. It certainly will not be nonpartisan. The referees may, consciously or otherwise, considerably enhance the home field advantage.

Maybe some of that isn't fair, but who said life is fair? Generally, in athletics we balance things by playing approximately equal numbers of home and away games. In politics, that is not always possible.

It is not fair that the BMA spin things so relentlessly to the left, both in their selection of stories and their reporting of them. But it is predictable, and it must be planned for and overcome.

It is not fair that a party which largely decries moral standards is incessantly trying to sniff out crime or hypocrisy among its opponents, who have moral standards but, as humans, often fail to live up to them. This is predictable, and it must be planned for and overcome.

It is not fair that the BMA not only tolerate but actually impose some brutal double standards. It happens and must be planned for and overcome.

In an away game, you must be smarter, execute better, behave more judiciously, work harder, and even fight off the extra fatigue from the four-hour bus ride. If the referees enhance the home field advantage, you have to play that much better to overcome it. If conventional communications are drowned out or distorted by the crowd, you find other ways to communicate, and you use them. You never relax or let up; you play hard every minute of the game. If you do all this, you often win on the road.

Sometimes you can do all this and lose anyway, because the home team plays a great game. But that didn't happen in this election. The Democratic Party over the last several years has been a near-disaster, practically begging to be beaten if not actually destroyed.

And That Applies How?

. . . And that is in spite of the Democrats' perpetual home field advantage. You see, for the Republicans, every game is an away game. They should never have let themselves feel at home.

The Republicans in Congress and the White House could have exercised more fiscal discipline, and it would have been harder for the media and the rest of the Democrats to portray them convincingly as fiscally irresponsible.

The Republicans could have been vigilant in policing their own. Had they been, Foleygate would barely have been a blip on the radar screen, and that would have been months ago. And the Abramoff thing would likely have been sooner and smaller.

The Republicans could have resisted confusion and dissension about the war on Islamic Fascism, and enough people would have listened that it might have made a difference.

The Republicans could have worked harder and smarter to communicate their ideals, concerns, and intentions, despite the rampant misinformation, instead of frequently communicating their indifference to the people, as in the matter of earmarks.

But the Republicans didn't, and they weren't, and they didn't, and they didn't some more. Thus they have not only squandered a rare political opportunity. They have, in an important sense, betrayed the trust of people of the United States (not just their supporters). Their negligence in handing victory to military, economic, and political surrender monkeys has diminished the security and undermined the welfare of the United States. That's not a good two years' work.

A slightly better performance would have been enough. A half-decent effort by a large majority of Republican Senators and Members of Congress would have been enough.

The Prospects

For now, the Republican defeat and Democrat victory are only partial, if White House spines have not softened. The big stakes races are in 2008. The Republicans will be fine in 2008 if they will wake up; get, uphold, and follow some forceful and sensible leaders; and get their ideological and behavioral act together. If they don't, our economy, our political culture, our foreign policy, and our national security will all be in greater jeopardy than necessary.

Memo to my Party: Thanks a lot, guys. Now get a clue. Lead, and enough good and sensible and serious people will follow. Party, and a lot of them will follow the other party.

David Rodeback comments (11/8/06):

Someone wondered about the phrase "surrender monkeys." Wikipedia explains.

Normal Version