While the latest chatter is that the Dems may win back the Senate and not take over in the House and the new election analogy is 1986 (would that mean the equivalent of Iran-Contra is just over the horizon for Dobleve?), I remain unpersuaded of this latest view (of course, it was only a month ago that the Dems winning the Senate was a crazy dream entertained only by Kossacks and fools–pardon the redundancy). Anyway, I made my reckless predictions, and I’m sticking to them: Dems win both houses, albeit by narrow margins.
However, it occurs to me that narrow Democratic victories on both sides of the Capitol could be the worst of all worlds in a way that I hadn’t considered until just recently. Narrow margins of victory–one or two seat majorities in both houses–will be written off as generic second-term discontent and explained away by the professional hacks, er, commentators as they point out the local reasons for specific Republican losses (in Virginia, they will have plenty of alibis that have nothing to do with national trends; in Pennsylvania, they will spin defeat as having nothing to do with Iraq, which will be only partially true; in Indiana they will write it off as weird anti-Daniels sentiment, which is also partly true, etc.). That means that instead of a chastening defeat, a true humiliation that would shake the party and the “movement” to the core and force them to stare long and hard at themselves in the proverbial mirror, they will instead feel that they have suffered a mild rebuke, from which they will learn nothing. They will convince themselves that their minor defeats can be explained by referring to local political conditions in Ohio or Connecticut and that these failures do not represent broader trends. They will be reconfirmed in their convictions that the national direction of the GOP and the “movement” is the right one. Neocons, never ones to let reality get in the way of a good story, will tell the tale of their vindication and will redouble their efforts to push their policies in spite of having been discredited on Iraq. If the Republicans do not even lose both houses, the GOP leadership won’t even think twice about anything it has done.
In a strange way, I could almost come around to thinking that Jacob Weisberg might be right–maybe the Democrats winning in November would be an undesirable outcome, not so much because it would be bad for that party (which is his main concern), which doesn’t matter to me, but because it would possibly be such a weak repudiation of GOP rule that it does not send a message and nonetheless leaves us with a rather ridiculous cast of characters in charge of at least one house of Congress. Should the Dems win with reliable pro-war members such as Melissa Bean back in the House, the disastrous policies of the last four years will probably retain effective majority support in that chamber. Nonetheless, I remain convinced that accountability is imperative and even if they learn nothing the GOP must suffer some consequences for what it has done to this country.
But it is indeed possible that there will be neither humiliation nor reform, in spite of what some conservative worthies hope will happen, but simply a minor hiccup on the way to the imagined “permanent majority” that annoying partisans will compare to 1942, noting that Republican victories that year were an exception to the general trend of Democratic dominance for the next fifty years. (Let us pause for a moment and consider the possibility that this might be the case–can you imagine a future of fifty years of something like neoconservative Red Republican rule, broken up only by the odd Democratic President? That there are GOP equivalents of Korea and Vietnam yet to follow in the decades ahead? It’s all too horrifying to contemplate.)