Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2002 / 2 Kislev, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Democratic overreaction to a disappointing, but hardly catastrophic day at the polls may inflict upon the party the serious harm it avoided in the midterm elections.

This was the most important election of modern times, said Walter Mondale, once but not future U.S. senator from Minnesota, proving that a guy who is 74 years old can still sound as if he were born yesterday.

This was the most important election...since the last one. But in a cosmic sense, it wasn't very important. We knew before the ballots were cast that when they were counted, George W. Bush would still be president, and that it was likely Republicans would keep control of the House. The "surprise" was that Republicans went from one vote short in the Senate to a two - possibly a four - seat advantage, depending on the outcome of a likely recount in South Dakota and a runoff in Louisiana.

Narrow Republican control of the Senate means judicial nominations that have been bottled up in the Judiciary Committee can now be brought to the floor for a vote. But it doesn't mean much else. Sixty votes are required to break filibusters, and Democrats will have at least 47.

Republicans and some pundits are touting the historic nature of the triumph. The last time the president's party gained seats in both the House and Senate in the first midterm election was in 1934. But only a handful of seats actually changed hands, and most of these by the slimmest of margins.

President Bush's popularity, and his effective campaigning were factors in this "historic" triumph, but the most important factor was luck. Republicans in 2000 were put in the position where they could lose their then Senate majority by the defection of Vermont's James Jeffords because they lost all all the close races. Republicans are now narrowly back in the majority because they won almost all the close races this time.

Luck flowed the other way in the gubernatorial races, where Democrats appear to have won most of the really close ones. Seventeen statehouses changed hands, with Democrats making a net gain of three.

Overall, the 2002 elections showed what the 1998 and 2000 elections also showed, that the electorate is pretty evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. But Democrats, with their penchant for recrimination, may be about to change that.

Already former Clinton advisers James Carville and Paul Begala are blaming the defeat on "accomodationist" Democrats who supported Bush on Iraq, and voted for his tax cut. Had Democrats in Congress opposed these policies more vigorously, the Democratic base would have been more energized, Carville and Begala say.

Democrats need to stand for something. I think the turning point in this election was the macabre memorial service turned campaign rally in Minnesota, which suggested Democrats will do absolutely anything to win.

But does anyone seriously think the electoral prospects of Max Cleland in Georgia, Jean Carnahan in Missouri or Tim Johnson in South Dakota would have been improved if they had run as ultraliberals? Mondale ran about as far to the left as he could go in liberal Minnesota, and it didn't work for him.

The one Democrat who took a senate seat from Republicans, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, ran as a moderate. If he hadn't, Sen. Tim Hutchinson might have prevailed, despite his ethical problems.

A key decision for Democrats may come soon. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo) may give up the job to focus on a run for president in 2004. If Gephardt steps down, his likely replacement is Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal), which would represent a hard left turn.

Democratic behavior in the lame duck session could determine whether the Democrats keep or lose another Senate seat. Mary Landrieu must run in a runoff election Dec. 7 in Louisiana, a state Bush carried handily in 2000. Landrieu barely prevailed when she ran in 1996. If Democrats are strident and obstructionist in the lame duck session, she could be toast.

The political center has been up for grabs since Bill Clinton made his first presidential run in 1992. If Democrats desert it now, their time in the political wilderness could be long indeed.

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10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly