KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE MIDTERMS. Here's an abridged version of an election wrap-up memo I've been sending around:
The prevailing geographic trend for 2006 was a Rust-Belt realignment in which a cohort of Rockefeller-Ford GOP moderates was ousted by progressive Democrats who ran to their left. A major consequence of this mini-realignment is that both parties will be more ideologically and regionally coherent and, perhaps, more polarized as a result.
LITTLE CHANGE IN EVANGELICAL VOTE. I hate to go around puncturing blue balloons, but let's get this hype about a big shift in the white evangelical vote out of the way right now. When the Associated Press reported yesterday that "nearly a third" of white evangelicals voted for Democrats in Tuesday's elections, Dems got all excited, spinning this as something new. In fact, the percentage appears to be about the same as voted Democratic in the 2002 mid-terms (see the link).
The spinners are getting milage out of comparing the evangelical vote in the 2004 presidential election to Tuesday's mid-terms. Apples and oranges, kids -- apples and oranges.
BEYOND IRAQ. A nice piece by Matthew Stannard in the San Francisco Chronicle lets panda-hugger Thomas Barnett raise a point hitherto overlooked in excitement at Rumsfeld's departure: his leaving heralds a positive change of direction on China policy. Says Barnett:
HMM.Hey, Sid. You're happy. I'm happy. All God's children -- well, most of them anyway -- are happy, but what's the deal with this sentence?
Reagan drew his raw material for "morning again in America" from an idealized viw of his boyhood in Dixon, Ill. where his father was the town Catholic drunk, rescued at last only by a federal government job.
Does every little Illinois town have a Catholic drunk, a Methodist drunk, and a Unitarian drunk? Or is "Catholic" Sid-speak for "Irish"?
RAHMBO. I think Ryan Lizza more or less has the goods in his rejoinder to Rick Perlstein's piece, which had played down Rahm Emanuel and played up the netroots in assessing who should get the lion's share of credit for the Dems' House gains. Lizza points out that most of the candidates Perlstein cites as examples of netroots-backed and largely DCCC-ignored campaigns actually received plenty of financial and strategic support from the DCCC.
ROVE, MANDATES, AND POWER. I agree with Matt and Garance (who has a new blog) regarding Karl Rove -- 2006 should finally put to rest the idea that having a better record running national elections than Bob "Losing Pitcher" Shrum makes you some kind of super-genius.
VIEW ON GATES FROM INSIDE THE CIA. I just talked with someone we'll call a former senior intelligence official about the end of Rummy and the era of Bob Gates at the Pentagon. He's not very keen. Asked about Gates's rocky relationship with Dick Cheney, the ex-official comments, "That's for sure, with Cheney. Each time you think Bush realizes that Cheney doesn't give him the best advice, he just takes it. It's hard to see anyone defeating Cheney for Bush's mind."
So what does that mean for changing course? Not going to happen. "The hope what's going to happen with Congress -- gridlock, and that's not such a bad thing. You know, when you're in a hole, stop digging."
GATES AND THE UNDEAD. Sometimes, I bore the youngsters with tales of the Iran-Contra scandal, and I scare them with stories of how the Undead -- Abrams, Negroponte, etc. -- from that festival of criminality still walk the earth. Because its crimes went largely unpunished, it's in Iran-Contra where we clearly see not only the embryonic stages of the rogue authoritarian Executive, but also the very worst ways of dealing with it.
WHAT NOW?William Arkin has some of the smartest comments I've seen on what the Democrats' victory should mean for foreign policy:
There is not going to be an immediate pullout from Iraq. It will take time, and there will have to be a plan for what happens the day after. A stubborn administration will have to be convinced -- and then forced -- to accept the war's over. The Democrats will have to take responsibility for the consequences of their demand to end the war.