LOS ANGELES -- The Republicans here are performing a ghost dance, hoping that through the magic of the pending recall election, the buffalo will again roam the plains and the GOP will regain its status as a player in California politics.
They're dreaming. While it is possible that Gray Davis could be recalled and a Republican installed in the statehouse until 2006, there are profound and irreversible reasons why the California of Richard Nixon, Howard Jarvis and Ronald Reagan has vanished, and why California has become just about the most solidly Democratic state in the nation.
Dick Gephardt deserves Howard Dean. In a sense, he created him.
If anyone has personified the failure of the Democratic establishment to provide the party with a distinct profile during the Bush presidency, it's Gephardt. As House Democratic leader, Gephardt clung to Bush's Iraq policy until it all but unraveled over the past month. Gephardt's endorsement last fall of the administration's war resolution effectively derailed a bipartisan effort in the Senate to require the White House to win more international backing.
As revolutions go, this one began with remarkably little fanfare.
Last Thursday MoveOn.org sent out an e-mail to its members -- all 1.4 million of them -- asking if they'd like to take part in an online Democratic presidential primary later this month. Candidates would answer questions that MoveOn put to them, and if one of them managed to pull a majority of the members' votes, the organization would endorse him.
Save for the continuing search for its justification, the war in Iraq is over. For the United States, if not yet for Iraq, the consequences are clear. We have established yet again the utter supremacy of our hard power.
Unfriendly governments tremble anew at our armed might and our willingness to use it. Some, to be sure, are hard at work building their atomic arsenals, and the last thing we need is a trembling adversary with a nuclear trigger. Still, if the challenge before us is military, our government is justly confident we can deter or defeat it.