Democrat John Podesta is quoted in a New York Times Op-Ed piece listing the three reasons why the conservative movement has "collapsed under the weight of conservative rule":
- “stewardship of the Iraq war” had undercut conservatives’ credibility on national security;
- budget deficits and stagnant wages had discredited tax cuts; and
- Congressional scandals had given the lie to the movement’s moral values.
There is actually little evidence to suggest that tax cuts were unpopular. In the National Review Pat Toomey presents polling evidence which suggests that tax relief was popular. What angered swing voters was the perception that Republicans had become the party of pork, fiscal ill-discipline and big government. Reagan will be turning in his grave.
Much attention has been given to the way Democrats have recruited pro-military, fiscally responsible 'Blue Dog Democrats' on their way back to majority status. One Blue Dog Democrat is interviewed on NPR and he explains the motivations of his 40-strong congressional grouping. Michael Tomasky uses an LA Times piece to insist, however, that the Democrats are succeeding because they are operating a 'big tent' - not because they are shifting in a conservative direction.
For Michael Medved, on TownHall.com, the election exposed the myth of a big red state, blue state divide:
"The media emphasis on regional differences always distorted reality but this election should force the permanent abandonment of the meaningless red/blue distinction. Montana, supposedly the reddest-of-red states, may well end up with a Democratic governor and two Democratic Senators. California, theoretically the bluest-of-blue states, not only re-elected its Republican governor in a landslide, but also appears poised to elevate GOP candidates (including some outspoken and cantankerous conservatives) to three or four other statewide offices. In Kansas, which gave Bush 64% in 2004, Democrats enjoyed sweeping victories, and so on. The definitive designation of an entire state as either “red” or “blue,” Republican or Democrat, ignores the impact of circumstances, personalities, and issues."
At the Weekly Standard Fred Barnes thinks that President Bush isn't going to be a lame duck for the next two years but will work with the new Congress on passing immigration reform and passing a higher minimum wage and use to full advantage the fact that "he can always command a national audience".
Outside of California - where quite conservative GOP candidates won office on Arnie's coat-tails - the Republican Party had little to celebrate. An exception was Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's re-election. The victory of Pawlenty (pictured) has him tipped by RealClearPolitics' John McIntyre as a possible VP nominee in '08.
Ed Rogers in the Washington Post surveys the GOP Presidential candidates and concludes that the race won't have a clear conservative candidate and points to Romney or McCain as the frontrunners. Joe Trippi looks at the Democrat field for The Post and urges readers not to write off Gore in a contest where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are currently exciting the pundits:
"In a party that tends to treat its past nominees like lepers, Gore has done an amazing job of reemerging as an important thought leader on issues such as the Iraq war and global warming. If he throws his hat into the ring, he will immediately suck all the oxygen out of the room for most of the other candidates. The media won't be able to stop doing the Hillary vs. Al 800-pound-gorillas-go-at-it stories. Everyone but Obama will be reduced to begging for attention."
Trippi, who was the technological mastermind behind Dean's insurgent candidacy, also makes this fascinating prediction:
"I'm going to make one bold prediction about 2008: Thanks to changes in communications and technology, one of the candidates on my list will raise $500 million, almost all of it from ordinary citizens contributing less than $100 each. Don't believe it? Wait and see. It'll happen, and we'll witness the birth of a new progressive era that could last a generation or more."
My own belief is that Trippi is right about the potential of many $100 donors but why should they give to the Democrats or the GOP, for that matter? Why not fund an independent campaign... particularly if the main parties nominate dull candidates?
In the Los Angeles Times Frederick Kagan, long an advocate of bigger troop deployments in Iraq, reflects on Rumsfeld's six years as Defence Secretary, and concludes that his efforts at technological transformation of the military have heavily compromised the Iraqi effort.