What's most dispiriting about last night's loss (I am assuming here that John Kerry will lose Ohio, though I'd dearly love to be proven wrong) is that the Democrats did a lot of things right in this year's campaign. They nominated the strongest candidate in their primary field. They waged the smartest, best funded, and most effective ground campaign in their history. They were more unified than they've been since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 run against Barry Goldwater. And they got their clock cleaned.
With Election Day almost upon us, it's not clear whether President Bush is running a campaign or plotting a coup d'etat. By all accounts, Republicans are spending these last precious days devoting nearly as much energy to suppressing the Democratic vote as they are to mobilizing their own.
Time was when Republicans were at least embarrassed by their efforts to keep African Americans from the polls. Republican consultant Ed Rollins was all but drummed out of the profession after his efforts to pay black ministers to keep their congregants from voting in a 1993 New Jersey election came to light.
I know, I know: Reagan was our first president to proclaim government the problem, to cut taxes massively on the rich, to deliberately create a deficit so immense that the government's impoverishment did indeed become a problem. He waged a war of dubious merit and clear illegality in Central America; he pandered to the most bigoted elements in American society.
The United States would be a far better place had he not been elected.
"I have no outside advice" in the war on terrorism, President Bush told Bob Woodward in December of 2001. In an interview that Woodward revealed to Nicholas Lemann in last week's issue of the New Yorker, Bush insisted that, "Anybody who says they're an outside adviser of this Administration on this particular matter is not telling the truth. First of all, in the initial phase of the war, I never left the compound. Nor did anybody come in the compound. I was, you talk about one guy in a bubble."