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Archive of Recount

11/10/06

5:20 PM

Recount 

Lefty Bloggers Snatch Angst From Jaws of Victory

This innocent child will grow up to be a blogger.Photograph: iStockphoto.com

Yesterday, we walked through a minefield of Republican misery following what Paul Krugman calls "the downfall of movement conservatism." As you'd expect, a read through the Democratic blogosphere is somewhat cheerier, but the mood isn't hubristically buoyant as one might imagine.

Old rivalries die hard, and the one between Establishment Democrats and Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean is still kicking like a pistol. Party bigs are claiming his 50-state strategy may have cost the Dems four House seats. James Carville would like failed Tennessee Senate candidate Harold Ford to step in. "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."

Grassroots activists aren't too psyched about this notion. As Markos Moulitsas puts it over at the widely read Daily Kos, "Carville needs to shut the fuck up. If he wants a war, we'll give him one." Elsewhere, less potty-mouthed pontificators are debating how much credit to give the "netroots." Blogdom's candidate of choice Ned Lamont went down, but 'rootsters blame that on the strange three-way nature of the Connecticut Senate race and point to victorious contests where bloggers gave candidates early pushes the Democratic Congressional Committee later picked up on. Netroots naysayers argue that ultimately big money and traditional party mechanisms elevated candidates to victory, joining the universal chorus of praise for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rahm Emanuel, the man Paul Begala called our "our skinny, nine-fingered, Jewish, Chicago version of LBJ."

But Noam Scheiber argues that the netroots-versus-establishment theme is a false dichotomy altogether, "Rahm did a solid job recruiting competitive candidates for the most obviously competitive races — which, as head of the Democrats' campaign committee, is what he needed to focus on. The Netroots did a solid job of identifying and funding candidates in districts where Democrats were a longer shot — the kinds of high-risk prospects you wouldn't necessarily want your congressional committee worrying about."

Finally, popular Democratic blogger Atrios thinks the who-gets-credit debate is itself a waste of time. "I really don't care who gets 'credit.' I just know that it's silly to set this up as a competition, and some of the hostility you see from some in the party organizations to the 'netroots' is absurd. Whatever role people online play — and the money raised isn't the most important role — they're, you know, trying to help Democrats get elected."

We admire this healing tone. Enjoy the sunshine, kids. It may not warm your keyboards forever.

A Putsch at the DNC? [The Plank]
Carville Wants a War [Daily Kos]
Opinion Roundup: Who Gets Credit, Rahm Or Netroots? [TPM Cafe]
Netroots Candidates [Act Blue]
21st Century Democracy [Firedoglake]
A Little Unfair to Rahm [TNR's The Plan]
Credit [Eschaton]

2:20 PM

Recount 

The GOP: It's What's for Dinner

Newt Gingrich (right) is so close to being a Democrat. Or gay.Photograph by Patrick McMullan

We often hear after Democratic losses that the party's incompetent leaders will attempt to solve their problems by forming "a circular firing squad." What is the appropriate metaphor for Republicans now that they've swapped fortunes with their once bumfuzzled, now mighty opponents?

We suggest the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane has crashed in the Andes. They're already eating each other alive like ravenous snow-bound goalies. The old harmonious on-message lockstep has been replaced by blame-gaming and bickering. There was the barely concealed rage of Bush's jockish, jocular comment during his first press conference that he'd worked harder than Karl Rove on the campaign. And now Newt Gingrich, positioning himself for a presidential run, has harshly criticized the timing of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. "It's inappropriate to cleverly come out the day after an election to do something we were told before the election would not be done," Gingrich told reporters yesterday. "I think the timing was exactly backwards, and I hope the president will rethink how he engages the American people and how he communicates with candor."

One of the major criticisms following the election is that Bush betrayed the principles of the Gingrich Revolution (small government, balanced budgets, etc). The wistful tone with which rancorous GOP theorists evoked their lost values recalled the way liberal Democrats complained about Bill Clinton's betrayal of the Great Society when he triangulated the Democrats toward the center and starting picking off Republican issues, namely smaller government and balanced budgets. Twelve years away from Newt's glory days, there isn't a tune in the fiscally conservative hymnal Democrats can't sing just as well as Republicans. Then again, it's hard to hear much singing through all that flesh-chomping.

Gingrich Says Bush, GOP to Blame for Defeat [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]


12:45 PM

Recount 

Chosen People Don't Choose GOP

Elephant menorahPhotograph: Jewish-Art.org

The Republican Party just got a lot less Jewish. Not only do the resignation of Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman and the concession of Virginia Senate hopeful and former '08 presidential favorite George Allen mean bad thing for GOP leadership, they also significantly cut down the number of chosen folk in the party's drink-umbrella-size cultural tent.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "Mehlman, the second Jewish chairman of the GOP, focused on outreach to minorities that have traditionally favored Democrats, including Jews, blacks and Hispanics." Allen, as you may recall, was somewhat less enthusiastic about acknowledging his religious roots. The cowboy-boots-wearing, epithet-slinging son of a famous football coach, who listed his influences as "[Christian] faith, family, freedom, and football," didn't exactly handle campaign-season revelations of his Jewish ancestry with inclusive classiness. "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch. And my mother made great pork chops," he told reporters.

Children of Israel, forgiving people as they are, have taken no offense. In fact, the Forward has awarded Allen the honorary placement of 51st in its Forward 50 list of the most influential members of the American Jewish community. The macaca may be on him, but he'll always have a home to return to where he can wash his spirit clean.

Allen-Webb Deadlocked to the End [Mother Jones]
Senator George Allen (R-Va) Named as '51st' in Forward 50 List [PRNewswire]

11:41 AM

Recount 

John Hall's Sweet Sounds, Victory

The New York Times may have been surprised by John Hall's victory over Sue Kelly in the Nineteenth District, but Early and Often was not. We made no bones about our love for John Hall, and we whored for his election loudly and proudly. The Gray Lady may have come around at the end, but E&O, the Painted Lady, was (metaphorically) going down on the dulcet-toned, eco-aware baldy back in September. (By the way, NYT, the melodies of Hall's seventies soft-rock group Orleans do not "worm into your brain and stay all day, if you let them," as you asserted in your endorsement. Worming into the brain is very bad, and Hall's melodies, like his candidacy, can only be a force for good.)

That in mind, it is with sweet vindication that we present Hall's first public appearance since winning office.

An Endorsement for Congress [NYT]

11/ 9/06

5:23 PM

Recount 

Five Steps to Sanity for Sad GOPers

For what seems like eons, we've been listening to Democrats kvetch and complain and ask why, oh, why, oh, why, why must we suffer so? Well, now it's the Republicans' turn to whimper reflectively as they sweep up the pieces of their shattered crowns. What do conservatives sound like when yanked by fate from their high horse? Here's how the righty blogosphere has been dealing with its loss.

Denial
While admitting the election was an electoral defeat, Republicans cite successful ballot initiatives to trumpet a victory for "conservative values," and therefore, making the election a symbolic win waiting to be turned into future real ones.

Anger
It's the media's fault. Here a positive article about progress being made in Afghanistan is cited as evidence that the media will now be picking up an "everything is awesome, Dems are in" meme.

Bargaining
Conservatives appeal to a greater god who might take away the reality of what is happening. Here the greater god is the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, which must be reenacted to save the fading GOP.

Depression
The toughest stage of all, but the most important to overcome. At least now Republicans are talking about their feelings.

Acceptance
Finally, the grieving GOP soul climbs the slow, steady incline toward acquiesence. "You guys won big last night. So you deserve to gloat. Had things turned out better for us, we would be."

It's a hard road to renewal, but the faithful walk it at their pace. Some may never finish their journey, but we hold out hope for all.

4:30 PM

Recount 

Taxes and the Death of the GOP Majority

Republicans have taken to breaking pencils out of midterm frustration.Courtesy iStockPhoto.com

The Observer's Politicker lists voting breakdowns in high-tax counties, like Westchester and Suffolk, and arrives at the conclusion that the "tax message" doesn't turn voters Republican even in a state where a disdain for high taxes is a strong part of the political identity. John Faso's candidacy might have been a decent test for the viability of a one-issue anti-tax campaign, had he been a better candidate and Eliot Spitzer not a god and had this not been a year in which voters came out specifically to reject Republicans. Spitzer won those counties by larger-than-expected margins, and Faso's inability to gain any traction still indicates that the tax issue has faded as a driving force in politics.

In New York and nationally, this election seems to have proved that voters either don't buy the idea that Democrats will raise middle-class taxes. Or if they do, it's not as galvanizing today as it was 25 years ago when Reagan convinced a large section of the electorate that Democrats wanted to redistribute wealth downward. After national security, Bush's stump appeals late in the campaign tried to frighten voters with a message of Democratic tax-raising. He failed like Faso.

Which raises the question: What is a Republican issue in 2006? In any area where economic issues blend with morality (minimum wage) or responsibility (deficits), Democrats have successfully suggested they can mix generosity and common sense. Middle-class voters overwhelmingly chose Democrats on Tuesday, and voters who make over $100,000 chose Republicans. What about "values"? The battle over abortion is increasingly muddied, with the candidacies of pro-life Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and, though he lost, Harold Ford and organizations like Democrats for Life of America suggesting a big tent approach. Philadelphia Republican radio host and columnist Michael Smerconish hopes so. "I want a party with room for pro-life and pro-choice views. Plan B should be sold over the counter if you're 18. And I don't want politicians determining my end-of-life plan."

Losing moderate Republican voters to moderate Democratic candidates leaves the GOP with the socially conservative hard-line "base." As the Democrats become less dogmatic on things like abortion, Republicans will become more entrenched. Gay marriage, which five states chose to ban, remains a GOP issue, but the success of same-sex-marriage bans didn't lead to Republican electoral gains. It's also possible that people motivated to support gay-marriage bans voted for Democratic candidates because of other issues. You can register your displeasure with Iraq and still be a bigot, after all. National security, an issue Republicans rode to dominance after 9/11, has been totally squandered thanks to Iraq. Candidates who hewed to the Bush "stay the course" strategy got beat, and Democrats significantly closed the gap on "homeland security" by talking tough while taking on Bush over wiretaps and torture.

Looking back to 2004, this switch seemed inconceivable. But today the Republicans are the party of people who are either very rich or very psyched about the End Times. The Democrats have almost everyone else.

The Tax Message [The Politicker]
GOP'er Asks: Where's My Party [Philadelphia Daily News]

1:15 PM

Recount 

Joe Lieberman's Payback Time

That grin's not going anywhere.Photograph: Getty Images

Capricious, irascible, unpredictable. Those are just some of the synonyms for "kind of a dick" one might use to describe Joe Lieberman, the Independent Democrat who with his win on Tuesday went from Kid on the Bus Who Smelled to King of the Lunchroom. Joe can now do whatever he wants. He may caucus with the Democrats, but he may do so as a spy for the Republicans. He may propose an invasion of Luxembourg, or he may conscript Hillary Clinton into service as his personal foot massager.

Everybody owes the Senate's new swingman something, and when Joe cock-walks his way back into the chamber carrying a big Radio Raheem boom box with the beat from Gary Glitter's "Rock & Roll Part 2" cranked to eleven, there's gonna be more than a few sheepish "uh, hey, buddy"s coming from his formerly backstabbing Democratic colleagues. For the time being, Killa Joe is busy not returning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's calls and polishing that fine-tuned sense of humor he wielded so well in his legendary vice-presidential debates with Dick Cheney. Asked about the possibility of switching parties, Lieberman said, "See, there's a little playfulness in me that wants me to make a joke about that, but it's too serious." What a kidder.

Lieberman — Soros Reject or Republican? [WEBCommentary]
Apologetic Dems Need Lieberman's Sway in Senate [National Post]
Still a Democrat, Joe Says, to Preserve Seniority [Hartford Courant]

12:07 PM

Recount 

So Long, NASCAR Dads

Chris Shays's close win in Connecticut makes him the only Republican congressman from New England, ending a realignment accelerated by Bush's sharp moves to the right. Even more interesting, for the first time in 50 years, the party in power does not have the majority of seats in the South, as Thomas Schaller, author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South, points out. For years, Democrats followed the Clinton-Gore gospel that without the South (and especially southern business), an electoral majority was impossible. That may be true in presidential contests (if you count Florida as in the South), but now, with the Republicans' lock on the Sun Belt over and an increasingly fluid landscape throughout the West in general, honing your political message to resonate with "NASCAR dads" may be an abandoned strategy.

The South and Northeast are now poles of entrenchment on a congressional map that may become more unpredictable and less and less like the calcified presidential geography we're used to. Finally, the image of the Democratic political hopeful wandering around some racetrack in Georgia waving a Confederate flag and wearing a gun rack on his back may be a thing of the past. Watching cowboy-boot-wearing Dems wrangling cattle out in Wyoming won't be any less gruesome, but at least it's a new look.

Shays Wins Congress, Lamont Loses Senate [Greenwich Post]
A Regional Realignment [Taegan Goddard's Political Wire]

11/ 8/06

4:29 PM

Recount 

Trade That Bow Tie for a Spiked Collar

Callaghan thwarted by quirky bow tie.Photograph: Associated Press

In 1978 Johnny Rotten crouched down on the stage in San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom and asked the crowd at the last Sex Pistols show, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" It remains one of the great unmaskings in the history of pop culture, a stripping away of the rock-star daydream to expose the disgust and dirt beneath.

We got to savor a similar moment last night, when Christopher J. Callaghan's (the J stands for j'accuse) concession speech bordered on the Rotten-esque. It wasn't the dopey removal of the bow tie, a weird moment of schlub burlesque. It was his rationalization of his own defeat: "I cannot help but regard the decision of New York voters as odd," he said. "They returned to office a man who by his own admission misappropriated funds … They're fine with that, so, okay." How often does a politician turn the lens around and say to the people who just rejected him: "The problem is you. You did this to yourself. Have fun."? That kind of unmasked disdain for the people you'd once hoped to serve, that balletic verve with slash-and-burn self-destruction, is the mark of a man with nothing to lose — except, of course, your trust, which apparently isn't worth much anyway.

Despite Scandal, Hevesi Wins Comptroller's Race [Newsday]

2:38 PM

Recount 

‘Fog of War II ’ Starring Donald Rumsfeld

The self-flagellation begins!Photograph by Getty Images

From the keyboards of conservative bloggers to the mouths of presidents. You'd expect the idea that Al Qaeda members were dancing in the streets this morning to be taken as a given by right-wing bloggers. By today's press conference, the updated red-baiting had oozed up the chain of command to Bush himself: "To our enemies I say, do not rejoice. To the Iraqis, do not be fearful."

Bush tried to maintain a conciliatory mood, offering the head of Al Qaeda West, Nancy Pelosi, decorating advice for her new office and complimenting the purged Donald Rumsfeld on a ride well rode, even if he couldn't recall the timing of when he asked him to hang up his spurs. He could recall why he was losing his reading contest with Karl Rove: "I was working harder on the campaign he was," he said with barely concealed mock disdain. You're never too close a confidant to incur the Bush wrath.

Oh, and in case you're updating your Bush dyslexicon, "stay the course," now means "constantly adjust."

What About Iraq? [Blogs for Bush]

1:55 PM

Recount 

Democrats Win, Even in Loss

We'll hear from Harold Ford again.Photograph: Getty Images

If the Republicans keep control of the Senate (and it looks more and more like they won't), they'll do it thanks to Bob Corker's win over Harold Ford in Tennessee, which is to say they'll do it because of race.

The disapproval for the Bush-era GOP was so great that all the fast food they'd been tube-feeding the electorate finally got coughed back up — the South Dakota abortion ban went down, as did the Arizona gay-marriage ban. In states like Wisconsin and Colorado, where gay-marriage bans did pass, they didn't help Republicans in any substantial way and even suggested, sadly, that the issue is somewhat cross-partisan.

Race-baiting, one of the oldest gambits in the furled-up political playbook, came through. Still, it didn't come through big. Ford came within a slight margin (51 percent to 48 percent) of being the first black elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction. Had he won, it would have the most significant win of the night, even bigger than a female Speaker of the House. The irony is irresistible. The Democrats have their first big win in over a decade, but their greatest achievement this Election Day might still be a loss.

Challenger Maintains Lead Over Sen. Burns [WP]
Watch the Harold Ford ad.
South Dakota Scraps Abortion Ban [LAT]
Anti-Gay Marriage Measure Losing in Arizona [AP]

11:32 AM

Recount 

It's Hillary's Show Now

Bill Clinton, back and to the left.Photograph: Getty Images

Despite winning 67 percent of the vote, Hillary Clinton's victory speech was, of course, overshadowed for some observers by Bill, who stood at her side smiling and clapping but saying nothing. It would've been an unprecedented moment for a candidate's spouse had he taken the mike.

But if his silence wasn't unconventional, his aloneness was. During Hillary's 2000 victory speech, Clinton was among a throng of supporters on the podium, and he did a decent job of blending into the scenery. Last night, Chelsea wasn't even on hand, leaving a gaping absence on the massive stage. But even going against those odds, Hillary made herself the show. The optimistically yellow suit didn't hurt, nor did the concise speech. Her rebuke of Cheney's "full speed ahead" fiat ("Tonight America said, 'Not. So. Fast.'") was nice, too.

People who obviously changed their voting habits to elect a Democratic majority (male voters split 50/50 last night, a third of Evangelicals voted for Democrats) were taking a chance on a party in which Hillary is now the standard bearer. She did her best to suggest a kinder, gentler Clintonism — all the economically sound, socially moderate policies you've been clamoring for without the soap-opera bullshit.

If voters could see this, pundits could not. Later that night on MSNBC, Democrat campaign strategist Bob Shrum used the image of Bill & Hill alone in the spotlight to once again dig up the notion of a "Clinton problem" — "Al Gore had one, John Kerry had one, Hillary Clinton has one," he declaimed to the chortling approval of Chris Matthews. (Shrum was the chief adviser to both Gore and Kerry's bumbling campaigns, and their Shrum problems easily outweighed their Clinton problems.) Last night, Hillary asserted that whatever Clinton problems lie ahead are ones she can own herself, and not let the world blame on her husband.

The Woman in the Bubble [NYM]

11:10 AM

Recount 

The New York Scoreboard

Losses by once-unbeatable incumbents John Sweeney and Sue Kelly were indicative of national disgust and inspired challengers. Jack Davis's loss to Tom Reynolds, who stuck out on a night in which Northeast Republicanism pretty much died, seems to be an example of local popularity trumping national trends (at least that's what Reynolds has been saying), but it's really just proof that Davis was a terrible candidate.

Davis, a "Goldwater Democrat," ran on one issue (trade), did little retail campaigning, listened to no national party strategists in a year when they obviously had something to say, and campaigned on blanket disgust with government in a year in which voters asked for its reform not its dismantling. Weirdly, had the Democrats run someone more traditionally Democratic they might have won that seat.

State Races: New York [CNN]

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