Thursday, November 09, 2006

Losing is winning!


Oh, George. You too?

In an early-morning post yesterday, I wrote that in order to preserve their sanity, Republicans would have no choice but to spin Tuesday's humiliating defeat as a victory for conservatism. The Republicans who lost, you see, weren't real conservatives. If they had governed as real conservatives, they would have gained seats, instead of losing the farm.

I noted in my post that Larry Kudlow was one of the first out of the gate.

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity wasted no time during their radio programs falling into line, as well.

This morning, George F. Will joins the party.

This year Democrats tacitly accepted much of the country's rightward movement over the past quarter-century. They did not call for restoring the 70 percent marginal tax rates that Ronald Reagan repealed. And although Pelosi and 15 of the 21 likely chairmen of committees in the coming Congress voted against the 1996 welfare reform, which has helped reduce welfare rolls by roughly 60 percent, Democrats this year did not talk about repealing it.

The property rights movement gained ground Tuesday as voters in nine states passed measures to restrict governments from exercising eminent domain in order to enlarge their tax revenue. In Michigan, opponents of racial preferences in public hiring, education and contracting easily passed their referendum, 58 to 42 percent, in spite of being outspent more than three to one. In Minnesota -- the only state Democrats have carried in each of the past eight presidential elections, but one that is becoming a swing state -- Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty was reelected. And, come January, the number of Republicans in the House (at least 200) will still be larger than the largest number during the Reagan years (192 in 1981-83).

The country remains receptive to conservatism. That doctrine -- were it to become constraining on, rather than merely avowed by, congressional Republicans -- can be their bridge back from the wilderness.
While one is certainly empathetic to the Republicans' need to comfort themselves, this is nonsense.

Tuesday's overwhelming Democratic victory demonstrates the depth and breadth of the appeal of the Democratic Party. Yes, there were right-of-center Democrats who won on November 7th. There were also Democratic victors who could not possibly be more liberal. There were Democratic victors who flew right in the face of conservative conventional wisdom. There was Jon Tester, who Republican Conrad Burns accused during a debate of wanting to "weaken the Patriot Act." Tester's response was that he did not want to weaken the Patriot Act. He wanted to repeal the Patriot Act.

There was Sherrod Brown, a true-blue Progressive, who defeated Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine.

There was John Yarmuth, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal with a long paper trail of writings championing abortion rights and full equality for gays and lesbians. Yarmuth defeated Anne Northup, the Republican incumbent in Louisville, KY.

The list goes on.

No, only the most self-deceived and desperate Republican can convince himself that Tuesday's results were in any way a victory for conservatism.

The Republicans who lost on November 7th did not fail conservatism. Conservatism has failed. Conservatives who insist otherwise are like those communists who insisted that the fall the Soviet Union did not prove the failure communism. They just didn't have a chance to implement it properly.

There has never been, and never will be, a better opportunity for conservatives to prove that they can govern. They held the reigns of power for six years. They used them to lead this country into illegal warfare, fiscal bankruptcy and moral darkness.

It is deluded to suggest that the rejection of Republicans is really a tighter embrace of conservatism.

Before I close, I need to counter something else from the Will column, which illustrates as well as anything the problem with conservatives. In listing the sins of Bush and his congressional enablers, he writes:

But Republicans sank beneath the weight of Iraq, the lesson of which is patent: Wars of choice should be won swiftly rather than lost protractedly. On election eve the president, perhaps thinking one should not tinker with success, promised that his secretary of defense would remain.
No, George. Wars of choice should not be fought at all. This is the lesson that Republicans should take from Tuesday's rejection of their party and of the conservative movement. If you really don't understand that, you had better get comfortable in the wilderness.


Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, on the way in which the Democratic sweep is a victory for social conservative values:

But at a closer glance, this "new direction" isn't new at all. Democrats won mainly because they seized on a platform largely forsaken by the GOP--social values. When "integrity voters" saw that Republicans had abandoned their principles, they ultimately abandoned the GOP. From Indiana and Pennsylvania to Florida and Kentucky, Democratic challengers embraced a partisan realignment--not as Nancy Pelosi's radical replicas, but as bona fide men and women of faith. These proclaimed pro-life, pro-God Democrats, once extinct, have returned to compete for the confidence of voters.
Mr. Perkins must not have noticed the anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion ballot initiatives that failed on Tuesday. And, right wing pundits could not have been any more clear about the message that a vote for Democrats was a vote for "San Francisco liberal" Nancy Pelosi. It's practically all Rush Limbaugh talked about in the days and weeks leading up to November 7th. Sorry, Tony. You lost.