The Day After
On The Day After, Jonah Goldberg's column, "Now Govern," is as good as a place as any to begin:
[N]ow the Democratic Party is for all practical purposes America's super-majority party. It has complete control of the presidency and Congress. It's time to put away childish things and govern.
If Democrats govern from the center, good for the country. If they govern from their instincts, good for the Republicans.
I strongly suspect we're going to see Jonah's Option Number Two out of a unified Democratic government. After effectively fourteen years out of power, I do not think this bunch can stop themselves from indulging their fundamental instincts, i.e., abandoning our allies in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, yanking up taxes, slashing defense spending, regulating anything that moves and subsidizing anything that doesn't, trying to rig election and media laws to maintain their current majorities, and seizing and/or nationalizing 401(k) accounts.
The latter, should the Democrats actually be dumb enough to try it (it's already being pushed by leftie academics and out-there Representative George Miller of, you guessed it, San Francisco), would be an instant Waterloo for Hope and Change, at least in Congress. That kind of lunacy would never pass in a million years, even with this congress, but simply trying it would make the 1994 backlash against Hillarycare look like a mild disagreement over restaurant reservations. Given Barack Obama's history of having a tin ear to leftie radicalism and going along to get along with the Chicago machine, I think we can expect to see plenty of such nuttiness trotted out in the next 18 months.
Here's another big red flag to watch out for. The price of oil has dropped by more than 50% since peaking on July 14. What happened on July 14? That was the day none other than George W. Bush lifted the federal ban on offshore drilling (what, you mean you never saw that connection noted in the press? Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise). Bush's action popped the oil price bubble, and it's been in free-fall ever since. This, of course, will not do in the eyes of the Democratic Party, regardless of the damage expensive energy does to our economy or the benefits expensive oil bestows on the balance sheets of our enemies. Appeasing the "global warming" cultists is far more important, so look for the next Congress to re-instate the ban on Day One, and then watch as gas prices start leaping up towards $4 a gallon again.
Then sit back as The Savior and his media minions try and convince the rest of us it's all for our own good. I'll bring the popcorn for that one.
While I suspect Obama will be a disaster for this country, I confess to being rather relieved at not having to even pretend to defend a McCain Administration for four years. After championing "campaign finance reform," mostly in a huff over being out-raised by George W. Bush in 2000, McCain richly deserved what happened to him, namely being crushed by a wave of private money while priggishly insisting on having the taxpayers foot the bill for his own campaign.
Obama's fundraising was certainly not all on the up and up, but his campaign's success should have the salutary effect of ending "public financing" as anything more than a goo-goo slogan in presidential politics. Whether it will also lead to the more realistic ideal of full disclosure, well, I'm not holding my breath. Anybody who thinks Obama's no-rules credit card fundraising will be investigated by an Obama Justice Department or Obama appointees to the Federal Elections Commission is also welcome to stay up all night waiting for the Tooth Fairy, for all the good it will do them.
Back when McCain was pushing McCain-Feingold, he used to dismiss conservative opponents who brought up pro-Democratic media bias by asking, if the bias of his media friends against the GOP was so severe, how was Ronald Reagan ever elected? As McCain should have learned by now, the reason was that Reagan could buy airtime to go over the press's heads, most notably in the 1980 election-eve special that ran on every broadcast network (sound familiar?).
McCain's defeat now serves as an object lesson to future GOP nominees on not one but two fronts. First, 2008 has demonstrated conclusively that Big Media is not just biased, it is part and parcel of the other side. Five of the six networks with news divisions (counting taxpayer-funded PBS), along with virtually every major newspaper and all the news weeklies served as free opposition researchers and unofficial press offices for the Obama campaign. That's all the next nominee needs to know about how to treat with all of those organizations: as hostile forces.
Secondly, and in no small part because no non-Democrat can count on the legacy media to accurately report on either a non-Democrat's campaign or on their Democratic opponents, it's very clear that future Republican nominees cannot afford McCain's self-righteous posturing on taxpayer funding. As McCain's campaign aptly demonstrated, if you do, you're going to be buried by the combination of your opponent's money and the media's cheerleading for that opponent. Felicitously, this problem has a solution that appeals to conservatives and libertarians alike: just take responsibility for yourself and raise your own money. You'd better, because otherwise you might as well not bother running at all.
There was plenty wrong with McCain the candidate beyond not having enough money and having to campaign against the press and a financial meltdown (although it didn't help any that the press obligingly failed to point out said meltdown was caused by deliberate policy actions of the Democratic Party). McCain has always been obsessed with his own biography and reputation, and like many a decorated politician before him, always seems amazed that it isn't enough to win a national election.
McCain proved again why so few senators (and almost no long-serving senators) win the presidency. Having been in the legislative branch for so long, where he had the ability to pick and choose which issues to focus on and which to ignore, McCain was completely unable to define any kind of platform for his campaign beyond being a "maverick." As Mark Steyn noted today, "maverick" is an attitude, not a philosophy. That stance won him points with the press when he was poking his own party and its base in the eye, but once electoral push came to shove, that same press corps left McCain out in the cold to mumble about minutiae and process. You almost felt sorry for the guy, but he only had himself to blame for not accepting the political facts of life. In addition, McCain was simply a bad campaigner who could not shake off half a lifetime of Senate "collegiality" reflexes to take a political fight to the other side, and worse, he lacks the personal discipline to stay on message for more than five or ten minutes.
While he almost certainly would have been better for the country than Obama will be, McCain probably would not have been an effective president, and very likely would have signed on to the media definition of "bipartisanship" (i.e., Republicans deferring to Democrats) on most issues, and he would have whined incessantly about being criticized for it. I can't make myself shed any tears over McCain's failure. To be blunt, I didn't want either of these guys to become president, and the real shame is that both of them couldn't lose.
It's telling that the legacy media is still rushing to condemn the one big thing McCain did right as a candidate, which was naming Sarah Palin as his running mate. Despite the onslaught of fanatical anti-Palin invective that's swept the airwaves and internet over the past two months, Palin shored up a conservative base that had little interest in voting for McCain beyond, "Well, he'd be better than the other guy." Looking at the numbers today, it's clear that Palin's presence on the ticket played a major part in denying Obama the landslide-level victory that so many in the media were predicting 24 hours ago.
Which brings us to the Attack Of The Snobs.
Much of the revolt of the allegedly conservative NYDC pundits against Palin can be credited, I'm sorry to say, on little more than snobbery. The leading offenders are David Brooks, who's spent the better part of the past two decades looking down his nose at the foibles of flyover country for the amusement of the Upper East Side, and George Will, who it ought to be remembered regularly dismissed one Ronald Wilson Reagan as an empty-headed rube as far back as the late '70's. Brooks and Will carry a lot of weight in the big media punditocracy, and their sniffy dismissal of Palin quickly became accepted wisdom in the Manhattan/DC media corridor, even while Palin was drawing record audiences both in person and on television.
This tremendous error, I strongly suspect caused by simple fatigue over having to defend an inarticulate Texan president against endless attacks in newsrooms, dinner parties, and various social situations ("Oh, no, I'm not going through that again"), is most likely going to backfire, and badly, on the legacy commentariat. I hesitate to join in declarations of Palin as "the next Reagan" (as Glenn noted, at Palin's current age, even Reagan wasn't Reagan yet), but like The Ron, Palin's popularity and appeal to the country at large trumps any derision from The Better People Who Went To All The Right Schools by a vast margin. Pointing out that Palin in 2008 was not an exceptionally qualified candidate for vice president (even while her qualifications outstripped those of the current president-elect) was a reasonable criticism. Getting on a high horse about her being a hick from the sticks with too many kids and not even a whiff of Ivy League odeur most definitely was not, and the latter is not going to age well among the actual electorate.
Obama supporter Mickey Kaus noted after the veep debate, "Big loser, again, is Hillary. In two years Palin will be so much better she won't even be in the same league." I suspect that will also apply to Mitt Romney and probably any other Republican who's imagining himself mugging for the cameras on a flag-encrusted stage 1460 days from now. The lone exception might be Bobby Jindal, but it wouldn't surprise me if Jindal winds up playing second fiddle to Palin's star power, just as Hillary got left behind by Obama. We'll see, but at this remote date, a Palin-Jindal ticket looks like it'd have a hell of a lot of upside.