The way I read it, there are two principle lessons to be had:
- President Obama had better start delivering on the agenda he outlined in his presidential campaign.
- The Republican party is in a shambles.
Future of the Republican party?
In New Jersey, incumbent governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat, was unseated by Republican Chris Christie. I didn't follow this race particularly closely, but it seems that Jon Corzine, was a very unpopular governor. He apparently failed to deliver on campaign promises (attention: Rahm Emanuel!) and he is a former senior partner at Goldman Sachs, which is bound to make anybody stink. Chris Christie was not a particularly strong candidate; he had a number of gaffs. But he ended up winning.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell coasted to a win over the Democrat Creigh Deeds. An interesting aspect of this race is that, contrary to the loud-and-proud outrage advocated by the tea-bag crowd, McDonnell spent his campaign running away from his conservative bona fides. Early on in the campaign, McDonnell's master thesis surfaced, wherein he expressed some pretty "out there" opinions regarding women, homosexuals, and other social issues. (You can read about it here.) But since that time, McDonnell has downplayed his "conservatism" presenting himself as more of a secular, centrist candidate. Well, it worked and I hope it is sincere. McDonnell, if he really is the man he claims to be, might not be a bad seed for the GOP to use in its reinvention. Let's see how he governs. I'd love to see the Republican party steer away from the neo-Confederate thrust it seems to have taken. (And let me say this about Creigh Deeds: he was definitely the candidate with the most interesting name!)
So, looking at those two races, it was a good night for Republicans. The Democrats did not vote in numbers like they had in 2008. There was not much enthusiasm from the left this time around. And the Obama administration had better make note of that. The administration has already disappointed the left by seeming to concede too much. (Single payer health plan, anyone? And why is Dick Cheney not behind bars?)
What's it gonna be, Mr. President?
GOP internecine warfare
Dick and Newt in happier times
But then, there was the race up in New York's 23rd district. This one pitted Democrat Bill Owens against a Conservative party candidate, Doug Hoffman, who had the support of the virulent tea-bag crowd. The tea-baggers were all full of piss and vinegar about this race because they had forced a "moderate" Republican candidate, Deedee Scozzafava, to drop out.
The race gained national attention when big name conservative freaks started weighing in: Sweet Sister Sarah, Man-on-Dog Rick Santorum, jowly, half-asleep Fred Thompson, and Governor Tim Pawlenty. They all thought they saw something happening, some movement that was afoot and they leaped to get in front of it.
And the race had the added deliciousness of being a proxy war between two of the most obnoxious and despicable right-wing demogogues: Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey. These two have hated each other for years. Newt had endorsed Scozzafava early on. But Dick trumped Newt by taking Hoffman under his wing, in that avuncular way that only he can do. He held Hoffman's hand during an interview with the local Watertown Daily Times, and threw the weight of his FreedomWorks goon squad into the race.
Well, on Tuesday night, the voters of New York's 23rd district let it be known, I think, that they resented a bunch of outsiders coming in and trying to influence the way they voted. And they ended up electing Bill Owens, the Democrat, in a district that most considered to be solidly Republican.
So how does the Republican scorecard look now that it's over?
- Dick Armey looks stupid which matters not a whit to him --it's all part of the job;
- Newt Gingrich looks stupid and adds a hash mark under the column marked "Dick" in his little book of vendettas;
- Tim Pawlenty looks stupid and feels a little embarrassed (after all, he's the only one in this crowd that is still human);
- Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Honey, and the whole tea-bag family look stupid, --but remain too stupid to know it.