Monday, November 13, 2006

A disturbingly clever loss

I'’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Democrats, even with huge momentum and universal public anger directed at the GOP, actually won an election. It’s like the Generals beating the Globetrotters. I kept expecting the usual things: Serious irregularities in Democrat-heavy districts; suspiciously inaccurate exit polling; masterfully run get-out-the-vote operations.  None of these materialized. I was gripped by a sense of unreality, like someone who has just remembered that the red mushrooms are the ones to put in his salad, not the spotted kind.

I realized, though, that I'’d missed something: The Republican party didn't’ want to win. Having eaten no mushrooms of any kind, I'’m pretty sure that they sacrificed control of the House and Senate to set up the 2008 presidential campaign. Look at it this way: Why were people so manifestly furious with them? Iraq, of course. They think it'’s a failure, and justifiably want their sons and daughters home right away. The problem is that neither party is going to do that, because the Iraqi civil war would instantly get bloodier by orders of magnitude. So the Republicans will be perfectly happy to let Democrats wrestle the alligator on this one, and they’they'll have neatly defanged Iraq as a political weapon. 

Think I'’m crazy? Ask yourself why the White House waited until the day after the election to make the well-received (and well-deserved) move of dumping Donald Rumsfeld. Do you really think that they decided that it would be wrong to twist foreign policy for political gain? These are guys and gals who’'ve done exactly that since day one!

It'’s breathtakingly clever, in a deeply disturbing way. They get themselves into a no-win situation, then they let the other team play. Unless the Dems are a lot savvier than I think they are, it’'s going to work, too.

Jon Gold
DI columnist

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