November 5, 2006


It's Almost Zero Hour: What's really at stake in Tuesday's elections (Jonathan Alter, 11/03/06, Newsweek)

The argument that the war on terror is at stake is a crock. Even if you accept Bush's dubious premise that Iraq is the "central front" in that global conflict, the Iraq war would not be abruptly defunded by a Democratic Congress. Bush would reach for his veto pen, just as he would veto most of the Fright Night spending bills we're being warned about. Left-wing Democrats would make plenty of noise but little headway, checked by the White House or the Republican Senate.

On the other hand, should the GOP maintain control of both houses—should Karl Rove's confidence turn out to be justified—the Democrats would be all but finished as a political party. With expectations upended, validation of the status quo would be immediately taken as a mandate by the White House to reject all bipartisanship on Iraq and return to the president's radical-right agenda, including, as Bush indicated last week, privatizing Social Security. Even without major legislation, a GOP victory would worsen the damage the GOP's House leadership has already done to the institution of Congress and to the U.S. Constitution.

This sounds overwrought, but it's not.

The Republic just survived close to seventy years of Democratic control of Congress, perhaps it's not as fragile as the Left fears.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 5, 2006 11:36 PM

Wow, Alter sounds as flat out nuts as Friend Perlstein.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at November 5, 2006 11:54 PM

Somebody's scared. For all the sound and fury in the media, the numbers from the Democratic primaries were down and the overall trend across the nation is for a conservative foundation. The dream that the Dems would win 30+ House seats was never really viable, and the Senate looks a lot like 2002, except that the GOP has a much better chance to run the table than the Dems.

Posted by: ratbert at November 6, 2006 12:05 AM

Just saw posted somewhere that Stuart Rothesberg, who has been arguing for a Dem wave, is using 1974 as the parallel and is increasing the number of Dem house seat gains - over 50 now. He is either brilliant or delusional.

Posted by: AWW at November 6, 2006 12:32 AM

Interesting AWW, especially given that Jay Cost tonight at Realclearpolitics pretty much demolished Rothesberg's earlier more conservative claims of a 35-40 seat pickup for the Dems. Cost says it's basically wishful thinking and that even a Dem sweep of vulnerable Republican seat and hold of their own would mean a 25-30 seat pickup at best.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at November 6, 2006 12:54 AM

Well, recall the eerie parallels--in 1974 you had Watergate and a GOP that was the permanent congressional minority.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2006 8:22 AM

"...the Democrats would be all but finished as a political party."

Given that the Democrats survived being on the losing end of the Civil War, I'm not going to be composing their obituary any time soon.

Posted by: Bryan at November 6, 2006 10:25 AM

Not really. They were as useless for seventy years as the GOP was for the seventy after the Depression.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2006 10:38 AM

Still around, aren't they?

Posted by: Bryan at November 6, 2006 11:31 AM

no. The current party is radically different than either the Jim Crow party that endured for a hundred years or the fairly Socialist party that lasted sixty.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2006 11:55 AM