As I write this, it's the day after a historic election, the one in which the Republican Party managed to lose both the House and the Senate.
And at this writing, I just heard the news that Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down after his tenure as probably the nation's most clueless, yet arrogant, defense secretary.
Well, that whole Republican thing was fun while it lasted, but I guess I'll have to send back my GOP membership card. After all, if I can't get a bye any more for meanness, corruption and incompetence, what's the point?It's all for the best, I suppose. Being a Republican is harder than it looks. I don't know how you guys do it with a straight face.
Well, now that that's over, I suppose I should write a deep and analytical column about what happened and why. Unfortunately, my mind is still in a mode that could best be described as "HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!"
I'm trying very hard not to give in to schadenfreude (a German word for an emotion defined as "satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune"). But I have to admit, it's been more than a little entertaining watching some of the nuttier right-wingers go into total meltdown.
Like this charming comment from the right-wing blog Little Green Footballs: "I just hope the nuke attack comes soon. Let it be on the East Coast where it belongs." And this one: "This will be a big one with many casualties only good news from it is President Pelosi will have to deal with a whole order of magnitude and more casualties than Katrina."
Nice, huh? I mean, all a few liberals threatened to do after the last election was move to Canada. Right-wingers want to see the country nuked, to teach us all a lesson.
OK, that was fun. Now on to the analysis. Why did the Republicans lose what they were claiming only two years ago was going to be a "permanent majority"?
Well, first there was the corruption. From money-laundering and influence-peddling to teenage-page-chasing and mistress-strangling, the Republicans seemed to be rocked by a new indictment, investigation, or scandal each week.
It's harder and harder to use the classic strategy of "playing to the socially conservative base" when you've let yourself become known as the party of grafters, adulterers and pedophiles. In fact, one AP exit poll showed that "most white evangelicals said corruption was very important to their vote -- and almost a third of them turned to the Democrats."
Iraq was also a huge issue for voters. On that one, the Republicans really suffered from the corner George W. Bush had painted his party into. As his rapidly shifting justifications for the war in Iraq crumbled, Bush resorted more and more to the equation that the war in Iraq and the war on terror were the same thing, despite the fact, as we seem to have to keep repeating, it wasn't Iraq who attacked us on 9/11.
Bush made the war on terror pretty much his sole reason for demanding we support the Republican Party. (Well, I suppose there was nothing left. Cutting government spending? Please. Effective governance? Do the words "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" strike a familiar note?)
Problem with that is, when the war in Iraq started going badly, how could people not then assume that the Global War on Terror was going badly as well? And since it was the Republicans, at least according to Bush, that were the only ones interested in fighting it, how could it not be their fault?
As I contemplated the magnitude of the Republican loss, however, one quote came back to haunt me, from the day after the 2004 presidential election. It was a widely quoted article by Republican blogger Adam Yoshida, that said, in part: "If anyone needs to work to 'bring the country together' it's those on the left who have divided it so badly. Those who sought to destroy this great man should get down upon their knees and beg the victors for mercy. And maybe, just maybe, we'll let a few of them linger on for the simple reason that they amuse us. ... Despite all of their tricks, despite all of their lies, the people have rejected them. They mean nothing. They are worth nothing. There's no point in trying to reach out to them because they won't be reached out to. We've got their teeth clutching the sidewalk and our boot above their head. Now's the time to curb-stomp the bastards."
And that's the main reason the Republicans lost, because that is exactly the way they governed. "To heck with you, we're the majority, sit down and shut up, we'll do whatever we want." As the Book of Proverbs says, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
While the urge for payback is going to be powerful, I hope the Dems can learn from that mistake. If not, if it really does end up being a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss," then it's going to be a really short majority.
The Democrats have got two years to prove they can govern better than the Republicans. Let's hope they don't waste them.