Let the Honeymoon Begin! (Please?)
In keeping with the "New Era" occasioned by the historic Republican victory on Tuesday, I've begun some long-deferred format and organizational revisions of this Web site. Real permalinks and interactive comments should be largely finished by the end of the month.
Early indications are that the olive branch extended by President Bush to his opponents on Wednesday has not been widely accepted. Indeed, quite the contrary. So much for reconciliation! For example, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Reynolds (Mr. InstaPundit) called attention to what novelist Jane Smiley wrote yesterday in Slate:
The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. ...
The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know, decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class and against the regulations that were protecting those whom they considered to be their rightful prey -- workers and consumers.
Italics added to highlight inanity. Overgeneralizing, are we? That is the same basic line of presumptuous, bigoted thinking expressed by Thomas Frank in What's Wrong With Kansas?, reviewed below. E. J. Dionne is another of the Democrats who is terribly bitter about the election results, as you can hear for yourself on the NPR All Things Considered archives. (via InstaPundit) In today's Washington Post he writes in conclusion,
the burden for achieving national unity is on a president who could manage a narrow victory only by savagely trashing his opponent.
In other words, "It's all their fault! It's all their fault!" And this from an intellectual? It would help in the task of narrowing partisan differences if Dionne would either acknowledge that many of the criticisms of Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans, et al. were well grounded, or that past criticisms of the president have been terribly unfair and destructive. As I have made clear many times, I am not thrilled with some of the hardball tactics devised by Karl Rove, and being on the winning side I have the duty to go the extra mile in de-escalating the "tit for tat" warfare. Therefore, I will continue to do my best to meet his challenge to moderate Republicans of holding to account the less temperate partisans on my side, even though Dionne doesn't give me much reason to hope it will do much good. Believe it or not, the reactions on the Left to Bush's reelection get worse. From the Daily Kos blog:
The big silver lining, and it's significant, is that Kerry won't be tarred for cleaning up Bush's mess. Had Kerry gotten us out of Iraq, he would've been blamed for "losing the war". Now Bush will ineptly lose it for himself. Kerry would've been forced to make sense of a mess of a budget. Now Bush will be responsible for his own half-trillion dollar deficits.
Losing a war and national insolvency are "silver linings"? If he's trying to raise suspicions that Leftists want to drag this country down, they are succeeding. Many of the comments on that page are even creepier, worthy of a Halloween horror flick. By comparison, Richard Nixon's famous 1962 retort "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore" sounds mature. And then there's the indisputably wacko far left: The photos posted on zombietime.com of a rally in San Francisco on the day after Bush's reelection will make you sit up and take notice.
Given the traumatic magnitude of their defeat, perhaps such "sour grapes" attitudes are to be expected. Nevertheless, those of us plaintive dialogue-seekers should not despair over the apparent communication breakdown among the main factions of the U.S. body politic. The only cure for such pain-induced vitriol is time. In the coming months and years, wiser folks on the Left will get over their bitterness, reflect on their side's crippling flaws, and come up with a more constructive alternative to Bushism. They'd sure better, since would be extremely unhealthy if the opposition party did not play such an active role in shaping national policy. Others will probably remain stuck in the mud of the past for the rest of their miserable lives. However things shake out in the end, the 2004 election is almost certain to signify the definitive end of New Deal political paradigm, which has been on its death bed for at least two decades already. What's next from the Left? If they're smart, they will abandon the pursuit of socialism on a nationwide scale and instead coopt the conservative agenda of decentralized government, and start from scratch building utopian communes in places like Berkeley, Boulder, Greenwich Village, and Charlottesville. Heck, some of them might even work!
Enough of bitter, hyper-opinionated polemics, already! Here's an interesting fact-based observation from Coyote Blog: (via InstaPundit)
Assuming Cheney does not want to run for president, which I think is a given, something will happen in 2008 for the first time since 1952: Neither of the two major-party presidential candidates will be incumbents of the President or Vice-President jobs.
I heartily agree with his subsequently-posted conclusion that that the wide-open primary election campaign will be chaotic and even more distorted than usual by the absurdly early Iowa caucuses. Can we reform the nomination process by then?
Election update: As the last of the vote tallies slowly trickle in, President Bush's lead in the nationwide popular vote has actually climbed. He now has 52.1 percent of the vote, nearly matching the 53 percent share of the electoral vote he won (286 to Kerry's 252). So my prediction wasn't quite right after all! I'm tempted to say that the 4.6 million vote margin (nearly 5 percent) is big enough to count as a mandate, E. J. Dionne notwithstanding.