Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit offered his “premortum” of the 2006 elections.
(First things first – hope all is well with Glenn on the family front.)
Another prefacing thought — don’t let the tone of John Hinderaker, or Glenn Reynolds, or me or any other blogger dissuade you from showing up and voting on Election Day.
The honest truth is, nobody really knows for certain what will happen on Election Day, this year or any other year. Even the people inside the campaigns can only see the broadest contours of the state of the electorate. They may have a ballpark estimate of how many votes they’ll have if their turnout efforts work, and how many to expect if they don’t; they may think they know how the other guys are going to do, a range, perhaps. But in the end, every campaign staffer on both sides is plugging away and hoping it turns out to be enough. Who wins on Nov. 7 comes down to the decisions of millions of Americans, and whether they decide to set aside some time to get to their polling place, and what mood they’re in, and what’s on their minds as they consider their ballots.
By the way – Glenn is under absolutely no obligation to reveal who he’s voting for in the Tennessee Senate race. But I’d be curious to know. He’s interviewed both major candidates, and Glenn has written about the two men in a pretty evenhanded manner. It seems like Harold Ford Jr. is running exactly the right kind of campaign to woo a guy like Reynolds. Having said that, I know Glenn is a big Second Amendment supporter, and the NRA has endorsed Corker. Ford received a B this year, but has received an “F” from the organization in previous years. Then again, maybe gun rights aren’t Glenn’s make-or-break issue at the Senate level.
Anyway – on to Glenn’s list of unforced GOP errors.
Schiavo’s a long time back; it’s a shame that a terrible division between a woman’s husband and her parents had to be fought on the national stage, and in the political arena. I can almost resent the players in that domestic drama for bringing it beyond the confines of Oprah, but I suppose if I felt that my loved one was going to be executed – or, alternately, kept alive against her wishes – I’d turn to anyone I could to help me do what was right – be it the government at any level, judges, or Congress.
Harriet Miers? Eh, all’s well that ends well. Justice Alito. Eyes on the prize, man.
Dubai Ports World? The administration’s approach seemed a lot more “ham-handed” when New York Democrats and their allies in the media defined the issue from the beginning with some outright lies – i.e., the UAE would be handling security for the ports. What’s the line – “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on”? A lot of bloggers bought into it, as well, with everyone and their brother sought to be hawkier-than-thou. (“I wouldn’t even allow UAE citizens to enter a U.S. port! If I were in charge, I wouldn’t even allow a UAE citizen to think about a U.S. port!”)
As for the cartoon jihad, I don’t know if I was as disappointed in the intestinal fortitude of the GOP as compared to say, the New York Times, which illustrated its news stories on the controversy with file photos of the Madonna-in-dung painting. The only guys above the rank of blogger who rose to the occasion in all that were the few papers that ran the cartoons and Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Again, I’m not sure focusing your anger on the GOP really moves the ball in any particularly conservative direction.
Immigration? Again – the GOPers most at risk this year are the Rick Santorums of the World, the House GOP majority, the ones who held the line on an amnesty bill. Folks angry about illegal immigration who stay home will ensure a pro-amnesty House, a pro-amnesty majority in the Senate, and a president eager to sign a big beyond-a-fence bill as part of his legacy.
(By the way – I heard a guy who follows House races the way John Madden follows pro football say that it was not inconceivable that Randy Graf – a guy so staunchly anti-illegal-immigration, even the Arizona GOP didn’t want to back him – could conceivably pull off a huge upset in the race for retiring Rep. Jim Kolbe’s seat. Graf is down in single digits and closing, and was expected to be down by 20 points or more. A Graf win would be a political earthquake, and would have every presidential contender in both parties asking, “am I tough enough on illegal immigration?”)
On a lot of these issues, the problem could be summed up that Republicans stopped acting like… well, Republicans.
The good news is, it’s very clear that 2005-2006 style Republican leadership is destined for the – well, forget being put out to pasture, let’s talk glue factory. Think about the Republican House members that the average American has heard of this year - Mark Foley, and through that scandal Denny Hastert and Tom Reynolds; Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham... the only upside for the GOP is that the Democrats who got comparable attention were William Jefferson, Alan Mollohan and Cynthia McKinney.
The conservative base wants the next crop of GOP leaders to be tougher on illegal immigration; tougher on spending; quitting the pork and earmark addiction cold turkey; less at home with the perks and schmooze culture of Washington.
One way or another, Hastert’s out. I suspect that next year, guys like Mike Pence, Jeff Flake and Jack Kingston are going to leading a more conservative House caucus – particularly if the Chris Shayses of the world get knocked out this year. And starting oh, probably too early after Election Day 2006, the Republican Party gets to have a good, long discussion of what it wants to stand for in the coming years and elections to come. But before then, there’s this little thing called the elections that has to get resolved.