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Michael Bishop
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 05:41 am:   

A friend of mine and I have been arguing politics. Yesterday he sent me the e-mail that follows. My reply to it is shorter, and it, too, follows. My e-mail elicited the reply with which this particular message concludes, and I'm proud to have elicited it. First, the original letter:


Simply put the Dems have abandoned everything except their narrrow base of unions, gov't employees and minority interests. Here's how the much needed opposition party is flushing itself down the toilet. Swish, it's gone. A lot of the Rep's success comes by adopting/comandeering the Dem's positions from a different angle. e.g. the current congress has increased spending, exclusive of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 12%. Not very Republican-like. Listening to Gov. Edwards trying to attract primary voters in his Pres' bid this A.M., and trying to back out of his years of speeches hardlining Iraq and etc. is a clear portrait of egoism and power hungry pols as sad as any I've ever seen. Totally un-convincing. Start planning your stop Bush strategy for after he is re-elected.

(From the WSJ)

In 2002 and 2003, six incumbent Democratic governors sought re-election:

Don Siegelman (Alabama)
Gray Davis (California)
Roy Barnes (Georgia)
Tom Vilsack (Iowa)
Ronnie Musgrove (Mississippi)
Jim Hodges (South Carolina)
Of these six, only Vilsack and Davis (in 2002) won, and Davis of course was turned out in the recall election less than a year later.

Now, here's a list of Republican incumbents who sought another term:

Mike Huckabee (Arkansas)
Bill Owens (Colorado)
John Rowland (Connecticut)
Jeb Bush (Florida)
Dirk Kempthorne (Idaho)
Mike Johanns (Nebraska)
Kenny Guinn (Nevada)
George Pataki (New York)
Bob Taft (Ohio)
Rick Perry (Texas)
Scott McCallum (Wisconsin)
McCallum was the only loser; 10 out of 11 GOP incumbents were victorious.

Now, it's true that there was a lot of party-switching in states where incumbents were not seeking re-election; between 2001 and 2003 the Democrats won 11 open-seat governorships the Republicans had held, and the GOP picked up six governorships vacated by Democrats. Each party also won a race to replace a retiring independent governor. Only three races were won by candidates of the same party as the retiring governor (in Oregon, where a Democrat won, and in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where Republicans did).

The switches in open-seat races seem to reflect political cycles more than any partisan shift; in almost every case, the seats in question had been in the hands of one party for at least two terms. On the other hand, there's a clear pattern to the GOP victories over Democratic incumbents: Except for California, all came in Southern states, and they suggest the degree to which the post-Clinton Democratic Party has alienated itself from this most conservative region of the country.

California, of course, is sui generis--though during the campaign the Democrats did their darnedest to "nationalize" the race. As 2004 approaches, they've got to be hoping they failed.

* * * *

Subject: Re:your 2 cents worth & my 1 cent back

The portraits of egoism and power hunger implicit in the personalities and actions of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Perle make Edwards' puny efforts in that direction pale. Further, your boys undergird them with greed and arrogance. I have no particular quarrel with the outcome of the gubnatorial races that you cite, although I'll admit that it doesn't look good for the Dems, or anybody else, in 2004 against Bush and his pious thugs -- sorry; there's that damned emotionalism again, right?-- but a great deal can change in a year's time. (And I still remember photographs of Truman holding up that Chicago newspaper the morning after the 1948 election, and the headline of the paper read DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN. Harry S was smiling broadly.)

Barnes lost Georgia, by the way, because his imperious manner alienated teachers, and because his opposition to the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag alienated all the advocates of Southern heritage, which is not my preferred term for them. This combo of voters brought him down. Perdue has proved himself a spineless nonentity, with a nice smile and a sensible-seeming wife. He won't wreck the state. Bush and his crew may wreck the country, however, and he will do so spouting pieties, protecting his buddies, and pretending to be a soldier. Don't mistake me here. I hope he doesn't. I hope that Dick, Rummy, Rice, and the boys succeed in Iraq and turn that whole situation around.

But Bush and his crew lied to get us in there, and I think they did it as much to enrich Haliburton, Bechtel, et. al, as to Change the World for the Better, never for a minute supposing that the mopping up would turn out like wading into the Everglades with a kitchen sponge in each hand. I would vote for other Republicans over this crew, and I'm at a loss to understand those who support them unequivocally, or with only a quivoc or two. Just jumping on all the Demo candidates as lightweights and/or opportunists fails to address the heinous shortcomings of the guys currently in power, or the fact that Bush's credentials were no better going into the 2000 election. Which, by the way, he lost. And everything he's done since has been geared to presenting him as so leaderly that he couldn't possibly lose again. It may work, but it's nothing to brag about.


And my friend's followup e-mail: "Damn you're good when you're pissed off!"

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