Some initial reactions to the election results:
- Last night's Democratic landslide is complete, 100%, unambiguous good news. P.Z. manages to see the cloud rather than the silver lining. Not me. Even the fact that I was grading papers during much of yesterday evening could not get the smile off my face.
- Hillary Clinton won with 66% of the vote. As I recall, last time around she only received 54%. That's a huge gain, and it indicates she must have gotten a lot of votes in heavily Republican upstate New York. I've been skeptical of her chances of winning a national election in 2008. I still am. But she's evidently managed to win over a lot of New Yorkers. Perhaps she'll become Senate Majority Leader and be satisfied with that.
- Anyone who watches the cable news chat shows will be happy to hear that the odious blowhard J. D. Hayworth lost his Arizona House seat by a convincing 50.5%-46.2% margin. He was the only Arizona incumbant to lose.
- On the Senate side, it was nice to see Rick Santorum lose by nearly 18 points. It was also a pleasant surprise to be rid of Jim Talent in Missouri and George Allen in Virginia (pending a possible recount, of course).
- For the first time a gay marriage amendment went down to defeat in a statewide election, the state being Arizona. The margin was only 51-49, but I'll take what I can get. Sadly, in my home state of Virginia the amendment passed with 57% of the vote. Stem cell research passed in Missouri, but the 51-49 margin is pathetically small. Also good is that the draconian anti-abortion law in South Dakota went down by a 56-44 margin. South Dakota passed it's own ridiculous marriage amendment, albeit by a close 52-48 margin.
- If you were watching MSNBC last night you got to enjoy the spectacle of watching Chris Matthews do his best to boost the Republicans. He bashed Hillary Clinton every chance he got. At one point he suggested she was doing something undiginified by giving a pep rally to her loyal foot soldiers instead of immediately sitting down for a serious interview with one of his NBC cronies. When she showed some enthusiasm by clapping while some music was playing, he accused her of applauding herself. He inexplicably criticized Bill Clinton for standing behind her during her pep rally. Needless to say, no wives were criticized for standing behind their husbands in other pep rallies. But my favorite Matthews moment was when he criticized Missouri Senator-elect Claire McCaskill for declaring victory before Jim Talent had conceded. Another long-standing rule of political civility down the drain, he mused. Left unmentioned was the person who taught everyone the merits of declaring victory before the votes were counted, and of acting like the winner before anything was official. That would be George W. Bush.
- Rush Limbaugh feels liberated:
Now, I mentioned to you at the conclusion of the previous hour that people having been asking me how I feel all night long. I got, “Boy, Rush, I wouldn't want to be you tomorrow! Boy, I wouldn't want to have to do your show! Oh-ho. I'm so glad I'm not you.” Well, folks, I love being me. (I can't be anybody else, so I'm stuck with it.) The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, “Well, why have you been doing it?” Because the stakes are high! Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat Party and liberalism does.
So much for his being a show about ideas and principles.
- Michael Friedeman of the right-wing website Agape Press, is similarly delighted by the results:
In general, this was a good election. The only way to make it great would be for Republicans to have lost another five seats in the Senate and another 20 in the House. The worse the loss, the quicker and more intensely the GOP searches for its wandering soul.
Well, I'm glad we're all happy.
- Over at PT, Richard Hoppe reports on some good news out of Ohio. Four out of five ID candidates for the State Board of Education lost. And with a Democratic governor coming in, there is reason to hope that Ohio might be rid of ID, at least for now. Especially newsworthy here is the overwhelming defeat of creationist ringleader Deborah Owens-Fink. On the other hand, in Kansas two pro-science candidates lost to creationist incumbants. The good guys still hold a slim majority on the Board, however.
- Speaking of Kansas, we should note that Democratic incumbant governor Kathleen Sebelius won her race with 58% of the vote. Not too shabby. Perhaps there is hope for Kansas after all!
On behalf of the rest of the free world, I'd also like to give my hearty congratulations to all the Republicans out there. May you get your party back. May the next election be a Democrat vs Republican race instead of a Democrat vs the Christian Right-Neoconservative Totalitarian Coalition. May real political debate return to the United States.
Now the Dems have two years to reveal to us what their "new direction" is - somehow, I'm pretty sure it will be the same old, failed direction they've had since the 1930's. In which case, in two years they will promptly be swept out of office by a McCain-Giuliani tidal wave. Don't get too comfortable in those seats, Dems!
A silver lining to the dark cloud of odious senior Dems running Congress is the rebirth of the blue-dog Democrat. The Democrats won by becoming Republicans. Fine with me - we'll see how much the radical Left Democrat base likes it!
Oh well, brace yourselves for two years of gridlock, vetoes and endless partisan sniping before the Republicans retake both houses of Congress and the presidency in 2008. Domestically, nothing will happen, but in terms of foreign policy let's hope President Bush keeps his nerve and continues to keep the country safe and sovereign.
Lurker, do us all a favor and drop the Rovian talking-points. Face it, your party lost. And no, the other party didn't win by becoming Republicans. Did Sheldon Whitehouse, an unabashed liberal who unseated Lincoln Chafee, probably the most liberal Republican in the Senate, win by becoming more like your garden-variety conservative Republican? Did independent socialist Bernie Sanders (who caucuses with the Dems) somehow become a Republican without us noticing? How about Sherrod Brown? Claire McCaskill? Jon Tester? All of them take progressive positions on the major issues. Even Jim Webb and Bob Casey, who are the arch-typical "conservative" Democrats in the eyes of the desperate punditry, are too left to be called "conservative" and unseated two incumbents who were looking at the White House just six months ago.
The last election, no matter how you spin it, was a huge blow to conservatism as a political movement. It's a failure. It is ironic that you favorably mention "raging RINOs" like Giuliani and McCain, as if the conservatives haven't been disparaging toward these "Rockefeller" types for being just as "out of the mainstream" as the Dems no more than a year ago.
In short, you lost. Take your ball and go home.