Jennifer Senior: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Were you up late watching election returns?
Mark Green: Arrghh.
Al D'Amato: [To the waitress] Get him a double vodka martini.
Mark: A Coke is fine.
Al: I'm in a verrry pleaaasant state of euphorrrrria.
Mark: Well, I'm ready to predict that Carl McCall will lose.
Al: That's the best we've gotten out of Mark in four months.
Mark: I'll admit McCall was far better than his campaign. But the decisive issue was that a popular Pataki leveraged his incumbency into a ton of money, some key endorsements from labor and "Democratic" leaders, and staying put in his own Rose Garden. He was vague, vacuous, and victorious.
Al: C'mon, Mark. I never met a defeated candidate from either party who wasn't better than his or her campaign, including the three of us. But Carl McCall didn't give people a reason to vote for him.
Mark: Well, allow me to point out three clouds on Pataki's horizon. One: He won a victory without a mandate. He really ran on nothing --
Ed Koch: That's not true! He said he was going to give us more of the same, because we liked what we got.
Mark: Two, he got three points less than Mario Cuomo got on his third win --
Ed: So? What does that mean?
Mark: And three, he now has to wrestle with the tar baby of his $10 billion deficit.
J.S.: Do you think McCall's problems mirrored the problems of Democrats nationwide? No discernible ideology, no clear agenda . . .
Mark: Maybe I do need that drink. You mean how did we lose both houses of Congress?
Al: Yes! How did the Democrats get their asses kicked?
Mark: Hey, it's not that easy!
Al: Ha! [Salutes Mark with a jumbo shrimp.]
Mark: Well, nationally, Democrats seemed to stand for nothing, so voters voted for people who seemed to stand for something. Like in New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic candidate, was pro-Iraq, pro–tax cuts, and pro-gun, just like her opponent. As Harry Truman said, If you're going to vote for the real thing or a carbon copy, might as well vote for the real thing.
Ed: The Democratic message should have been, "Bush wants to make these tax cuts permanent, cuts that have cost us trillions and would otherwise pay off the debt and protect Social Security."
Al: Instead, the Democrats did nothing but disrupt and obstruct the president. And they delivered the coup de grâce to themselves, by turning Paul Wellstone's memorial into a political circus.
Mark: That's a stretch. If you're in Georgia or New Hampshire, you're voting based on your knowledge of the local candidates and issues, not a clip on the evening news from another state.
J.S.: So what do the Democrats do now?
Mark: They're going to have a real internal fight over whether they want a presidential nominee who's more explicitly progressive or a "yes, but" kind of person.
Ed: They should meet and discuss honestly where they have to change. Bill Clinton, just by virtue of his personality, brought the Democrats closer to the center. But there is no Bill Clinton in the Democratic leadership right now. And regrettably, the radical left is tactically smarter -- in the short term, anyway -- than the Democratic center. They run the roost.
Al: To be fair, the Republican party sometimes has the same problem -- the right wing takes control to the point that it turns off many Americans.
J.S.: So how does Bush contain that right wing now that his party also controls Congress?
Al: He's too smart to let them dominate. And if he does, guess what: We'll have massive losses.
J.S.: Harvey Pitt also resigned last Tuesday night.
Mark: What a coincidence! At nine o'clock on Election Night! But the New York Times would not be had. They still had the story above the fold.
J.S.: They say Giuliani is a possible successor.
Ed: He'd be terrific at it. He's a detective, a cop. I have no problem putting him in a cop's job. Just don't put him in a policy position of major national consequence . . .
Al: He can't afford Pitt's job. He can't give up millions at this point in his career.
Mark: I agree. He has more money to make and bigger fish to fry. I suspect that what he's really angling for is to be the fourth guy at this table.