Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's All Over But the Crying. And the Burial.

Obama is up in the national polls an average of 6 percent or so.  The number of people who represent themselves as undecided is about 5 percent.  I think even the stupidest of us can do the math.

"Oh," you might say, "McCain and Palin may be able to get people to change their minds."  Maybe.

Not likely.

McCain may be able to shift the polls back in his direction a bit.  As the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, it's his duty to try to do so--for him to completely give up now would be a disaster for the down-ticket Republicans.  Races that seemed uncompetitive just a month a go--Liddy Dole and Mitch McConnell for example--are suddenly toss-ups.  Even such Republican strongholds as Texas and Mississippi are tightening up.  Those GOP incumbents desperately need their base to turn out.  But McCain has shown himself to be contemptuous and detached from the rank-and-file of the Republican Party, and he is a lackluster campaigner at best.  As it continues to sink in that he has no chance to win, he may completely fold up his tent.  Suddenly, the idea of a filibuster-proof Senate seems less like a pipe dream. 

Several pundits (including some of Slate's writers) have predicted the death of the Republican Party.  When these articles first started appearing last spring, I dismissed them.  I thought what we were seeing was the normal ebb-and-flow of political fortunes.  But the performance of the McCain campaign has been abysmal.  Perhaps the Republican machine has been hampered to a large degree by the erratic behavior of their nominee, but surely McCain is more intelligent, more competent, more presidential than the former governor of Texas?  Is there nobody left in the campaign who would explain why it's important to vet your vice-presidential pick?  Nobody who might object to shutting down your convention?  Nobody who might suggest that antagonizing a press corps that is inherently partial toward you is a bad idea?  These are the heirs of Karl Rove and Lee Atwater?

McCain's defeat, especially if accompanied by a thrashing in the Senate and House races, will leave the Republican Party is a state of disarray unimaginable only a few years ago.  Who do they have left who will lead them?  Mike Huckabee?  Fred Thompson? Sarah Palin?

10 comments:

Kevin Clark said...

The Republican Party isn't dead and isn't going away. For all the talk by some people about the two parties being the same, they do, underneath all the yelling, represent two fundamentally different ideas about what a good society ought to be. The Democratic Party says it's all about the system, and the Republican Party says its all about the individual. There is some truth in each, and these two ideas are constantly ascending or descending. I think that Obama is up lately because the financial turmoil seems more like a systemic problem than an individual problem, which puts it in the Dem wheelhouse. So, we will have government increasing the power of the system for the next few years, until people get tired of that, and the pendulum will swing the other way.

As far as being in disarray, the party was certainly in disarray after Watergate, yet just a few years later Ronald Reagan came along and won in a landslide.

Who will lead the Republican Party? Hard to say. I think McCain will remain a leader in the Congress, but Republicans tend to look toward governors more as leaders. I'd say along these lines that Bobby Jindal will be making a lot of appearances on Sunday mornings. My guess is that he will be the early favorite as the nominee in 2012.

Of course, entirely new leadership might come along. Less than four years ago, some guy with a funny name was just an Illinois state legislator.

Archaeopteryx said...

Kev, I don't think the Republican Party as we've known it over the last several years is a natural entity. It's a conglomeration of social conservatives and fiscal conservatives, which aren't necessarily a logical fit, and neither one of which has had any real say in the party over the last several years. Instead, the party has been run by the neoconservatives, who only wanted power so that they could destroy government control over big business. Bush and Rove paid lip service to the social conservatives, but as has been revealed by several former insiders, this was a cynical method to keep power--remember how the Bushies laughed at the evangelicals. Remember how Ralph Reed sold his ability to whip the evangelicals into a political fervor to the highest bidder among those trying to run Indian casinos. The Republicans used wedge issues--gay marriage, abortion, and guns to keep the social conservatives in line. And the fiscal conservatives are all ready to bolt the party, especially after this bailout deal.

I suspect that there is going to be a major realignment. Neoconservatism is dead, or as dead as it can be as long as there is this short-sighted desire on the part of some big business types to destroy the government (maybe now some are realizing that they need government oversight to save them from themselves). I hope the social conservatives will see they have more in common with the Democratic Party (or at least the stated ideals of the Democratic Party) than they might realize.

In the past, the demise or decline of one political party has led the other to become bloated, corrupt, and lost. We'll need a reconstituted Republican Party, or its replacement, to keep that from happening, or to provide a remedy when it does.

artandsoul said...

I just hope you're right. I also hope that after this election we can restore some kind of balance to the nation -- some admiration for both education and honesty.

I would like to see the Republican party return to an historical stance of fiduciary responsibility and minimized Government, rather than out of control spending and monstrous governmental interference with personal liberties.

And, if they decided to stop pitting American against American I wouldn't disagree with that either!

Archaeopteryx said...

Hi artansoul! Welcome to the blog.

I'd like to see those things, too. I'm afraid, however, we're stuck with negative campaigning, and it's only going to get worse. Unfortunately, it works. Maybe if we reward McCain with a Democratic landslide, the technique will lose favor.

Because of the economy, and the last eight years, McCain had an uphill battle to begin with. Had he kept his dignity and his word about not going negative, he might not have taken the entire party down with him. But there are more indications all the time that the election is going to be a blood bath for the Republicans.

Kevin Clark said...

Regarding negative campaigning, it's not just McCain doing it. Living in a "battleground" state, I can attest that Obama's ads are relentlessly negative. I will admit that McCain's ads tend to be personally negative against Obama, while Obama's tend to be more against McCain's record. That seems inevitable, though, considering that Obama really doesn't have a record to attack. That's not a slam on Obama, just a fact.

I find it hard to believe that it's really McCain's attacks that are hurting the Republicans. President Bush has a 29% approval rating and Congress has a 13% approval rating. That, coupled with the huge economic crisis, is driving this election.

By the way, for all the opprobrium put upon Sarah Palin, she said the smartest thing about the financial crisis that I have heard. There is an element of Wall Street greed in this, and there is a huge element of stupid government policies pushed by both Reps and Dems, but people still need to take responsibility for themselves. If people had refused to take on mortgages that they could not afford, this whole problem would not have happened. I'm glad that in the debate Sarah Palin brought personal responsibility into this. It's a message that politicians try to avoid, but it's fundamentally up to each person and family to act responsibly and wisely. As we go forward, that ought to be the message of whoever is the next President.

Someone once said, "50 pounds income and 49 pounds expenses--happiness. 50 pounds income and 51 pounds expenses--misery."

artandsoul said...

Kevin - sorry, but I think the approbation attributed to Sarah Palin is cliche and wrong-headed.

To say that a homeowner should have thought small, and not taken on the big mortgage - when we were ALL in a bubble of perceived prosperity and even experts were overextending - is akin to saying "well, that girl shouldn't have worn that short skirt."

Sorry, I just don't buy that blame-the-victim piece.

The thing is, our Government is huge (TOO huge) and runs the way it runs. There are tweaks and small changes (I hesitate to use "reform") we can make, but the STRUCTURE is what saves us from running truly amok.

We are NOT a democracy. We are a representational republic. We speak out of both sides of our mouths when we say that "the government" should run according to the people's wishes. It may be what we naively want - but that is not how it works, and certainly our Founding Fathers didn't think that was a good idea which is why the chose Republic rather than Democracy.

I mean READ the Federalist Papers! Our real problem right now can be summed up by Madison in #10 - we have let factions become the driving force. This will never do.

Dissent and argument are fine. Factions (as seen in our culture wars, and Sarah Palin's populism) are truly the dangers that can harm our country's future.

My $.02!

Kevin Clark said...

Art, nobody held people down and made them sign on the dotted line for mortgages that they couldn't afford. They did that themselves. There was certainly fraud in some cases. Some borrowers probably did not understand what they were doing and how their rates would increase. Was that the case with everyone? Was that the case even with most people? I don't think so. I think people figured that they would take the loan, live in the house for a while, and then sell the house at a profit to someone even less smart. Didn't work out that way, but that doesn't make homeowners victims.

Also, it wasn't a case of "everybody's doing it". Everybody didn't do it. In the second quarter of this year, 6.4% of mortgages were at least one payment behind, and 2.75% were in foreclosure. That means that 93.6% of mortgages are being paid on time. Now, that does not include consumer credit, which is a problem in its own right. But even if everyone is doing it, we need as a nation to relearn the virtue of thrift. We need to save more and spend less. That can only be done on an individual basis. As the environmentalists say, think globally and act locally.

artandsoul said...

Kevin - I don't disagree with your premise that we need to value thrift in this country. And I also agree that the truly problem mortgages are a small percentage of all mortgages.

I just don't think you can, or should, make a blanket motivational premise about why and how people made the "bad" loans.

I know that my sister, who was job hunting, was offered a way to get some cash and stay in her home and with the outlook good it seemed she'd be able to do just fine in making the payments.

However, since she is STILL looking for a job two years later, and the value of her home is now 30% less than it was two years ago it is a terrible, terrible situation for her.

She never intended to sell - it is her home.

She is in a tough situation and a reduction in payments (principal and/or interest) could help her stay in her home.

By the way - she is in the 93.6% of on-time mortgages.

And, I think there are a lot more like her than like the folks you claim to have had more shallow, greed-related motives.

That's my only point.

Catnapping said...

i am soooo not crying! i find myself humming for no reason...and singing, even:

happy days are here again; the skies above are clear again...

Archaeopteryx said...

I'm with you Cat. Mrs. Arch and I are going to early vote this afternoon, and we have a feast planned for afterward. Each passing day makes it look more likely that the good guys are going to win.