As I usually do, here’s my ten favorite blog entries of the year. I chose all ten of them on a single pass through the last 12 months of scottfeldstein.net, no second guessing, no do-overs. It is what it is.
What have Republicans actually done well over the last few years? It’s a short list. I thought Bush’s immigration policy wasn’t outright awful, even if he never did manage to sell it to congress. There have been no further terrorist attacks on our soil, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that at least something must be going right there. Finally, they have managed to deliver on their tax cuts. I don’t agree with them, but it’s something that a lot of people care about and it is in that sense at least a promise that they kept.
What’s on the negative side of the ledger? Bush sold us all a war that wasn’t necessary. He managed to bungle the execution of that war for years. He managed to alienate our allies and unite our enemies. The risk of terrorist attack was made greater according to intelligence reports in the last few years. They failed to get bin Laden. They failed to rescue New Orleans. They failed to reduce–or even hold the line on–the budget deficit and the debt that it creates. They failed to keep the economy healthy. They have failed to address–and often even admit the existence of–the threat of global climate change.
Much more could be said about each of these things. And to be fair much might be said about the degree to which they can be laid at Republican feet, or even whether a president or a political party can be held fully accountable for them in the first place. But one thing is clear: There is a pattern. They say that only their policies will keep the economy healthy. They say that only their policies will keep us safe. They say that they are the grownups, able to handle crisis. They say that they are fiscally responsible.
And all of these things are demonstrably false.
Meanwhile they seem to believe that they got their asses kicked in the recent election because they weren’t adhering to the conservative principles of less government, lower taxes and an aggressive foreign policy.
This isn’t 1980, folks. People don’t believe the government is the source of all their problems. Here in 2008 they expect their government to actually do something for them. They expect government to work. And the way Republicans have governed, it hasn’t.
Now that the Republican party has been handed it’s own ass, where does it go from here? Inexplicably, some say that Sarah Palin is their future, that she’ll run for president in 2012. Surely there is someone in the Republican leadership who recognizes that Palin is the road to Whig status.
So if that’s not the way forward, what is? Considering the fact that I’m a liberal and have never voted for a Republican even once, my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt and then it, the salt, and everything else should be immediately discarded. Nevertheless, here is what I think.
Remember Bill Clinton? He was a “New Democrat.” A moderate Democrat. The guy who brought us NAFTA, welfare reform and “the era of big government is over.” Whether he was right or wrong about those things, his presidency shifted toward the middle on some key issues, co-opting them from Republicans, and reflected the mood of the electorate more than his base. It’s time for the Republican party to do the same.
Pretending that global climate change isn’t real has to stop.
Pretending that our health care system doesn’t need to change must stop.
The problems are too big, too important to voters, and, frankly, just too goddamned real to ignore anymore. The Republican party continues to do so at its peril. A handful of southern states plus Utah and Texas is no longer a viable path to the white house. Time to shift to the center on a few key issues. Co-opt them from Democrats. That’s my advice.
And make Sarah Palin disappear.
With a sweeping Democratic victory last night, our long national nightmare is finally coming to a decisive close. It’s made all the more fabulous by the fact that we’ve elected our first African-American president.
It looks like I was right: Obama wins, does so with greater than 5% margin of the popular vote, and flips a red state–Virginia.
You know how confident I was in an Obama victory? I wrote the previous post (Victory!) over lunch on Tuesday and scheduled it to automatically appear at 10pm. And it was precisely at 10pm that CBS called the race for Obama, too.
Sadly, the local chapter (are there other chapters?) of Drinking Right actually met last night, on election night. Therefore, I was not able to join them to drink on their dime and gloat a little.
I really, really want Al Franken to win in Minnesota! I’m hoping against hope that a recount pushes him over the edge.
Did I ever tell you my champagne bottle story from the 2004 election? I’d had this bottle of champagne in my office for six months or more. Someone had given it to me for something or other. Then on election day I took it with me on my way out of the office.
Both sides of Wisconsin avenue were lined with students: Kerry supporters on the north side and Bush supporters on the south side. I walked across to the Kerry side and approached a young man. “Are you over 21″ I asked? He said he was. I asked to see his ID and he showed it to me. (One wonders who he thought I was and what kind of trouble he was in.) As he was of legal drinking age, I pulled the bottle out of my bag and handed it to him. “For later,” I said. “When you win.”
Then I went home. Later that night I grimly reflected that the bottle of champagne likely had been used to drown sorrows rather than in celebration.
That’s why tonight I’m getting a new bottle on the way home. I’ll pop it open and toast each and every bit of good news for Democrats. Here’s hoping we need a second bottle before the night is through.
If you haven’t seen Sarah Silverman’s hilarious Great Schlep video, it’s time to remedy that situation.
Warning: Strong language and offensive themes.
I don’t know if you know this, but apparently there’s an election happening next Tuesday.
I am sticking to the prediction I made many months ago: Obama wins the presidency and does so with at least a 5% margin of the popular vote. He’ll also flip a so-called “red state”–probably Virginia.
I generally don’t take a lot of delight in people being mocked, but damn. This New Yorker piece had me in stitches.
President Bush and the Republican party have controlled Washington for much of the last eight years. During those years we have begun an unnecessary war. That war has been prosecuted badly. A lot of people are dead, and it’s not clear if anything much has been accomplished in terms of our national security. The economy is circling the drain. We’re bailing out industries who overreached because of lax regulation. Unemployment has cracked 6% and may go higher. Worker productivity has risen, but no rise in middle class incomes has accompanied it. The budget deficit has reached historic highs. The federal response to hurricane Katrina was shameful. They have implemented policies of warrantless spying, secret prisons and torture. It’s not surprising, then, that our Republican president has the lowest disapproval rating in history. Similarly, 80% of the country believe we’re heading in the wrong direction. I think it is fair to say that we can now see what Republican policies bring us: economic downturn, war and an erosion of civil rights. They’ve had their shot, and nobody seems very pleased with the result.
So why is it that McCain is polling as well as he is? Can it really be that he’s so completely and effectively distanced himself from his own party and its failed policies? I do get that he’s “mavericky,” that he’s the anti-GOP Republican. But how in hell is this man defying so much gravity? What am I missing?
Sure, he’s a Vietnam war hero. (I don’t know if you knew that or not.) But other than his admirable service record, he’s not a very inspirational guy. He looks like a grumpy old man and he sounds like he’s telling us all to get off his lawn. What cartoon physics are keeping this Wile E. Coyote from plummeting to the bottom of the canyon?
I still predict an Obama win. I just wish I understood this phenomenon.