Wednesday | January 22, 2003
November to January -- night and day
It's hard to believe that just over two months ago, Democrats were in disarray, Republicans were crowing over their newfound power, and hopeless malaise seemed to grip the denizens of the left. For a few weeks, it seemed as Bush/Rove and Co. would steamroll their way onto a second term without nary a challenge from impotent and hopeless Democrats.
We in the base demanded our representatives in Congress stand up to Bush and his policies, but all we got was Bush-lite. And with a strategy of appeasement, the Democrats lost an election cycle they should've easily won.
But one stroke of bad luck changed everything. LA Senator Mary Landrieu failed to pick up 50 percent of the vote against three GOP opponents, and under Louisiana's bizarre campaign rules, was forced into a runoff election with the second-place finisher.
The GOP sent everyone and their families to campaign for Landrieu's Republican challenger. Bush himself went, as did Cheney. In conservative LA, it seemed as the Republicans would notch yet another victory. Supremely secure in their confidence, GOP operatives walked around talking about "Operation Icing on the Cake."
But then a wonderful thing happened -- Landrieu grew a spine, tossed aside her strategy of appeasment, imported the Democratic Party's top strategists, and started bashing Bush. Hard to believe, but this was a novel concept -- a member of the opposition party attacking the president's policies. And against all hope, Landrieu won.
Note that if Landrieu had gotten her 50 percent in November, the Dems would be wrapping up the year in their malaise, in the midst of their "soul searching" and wondering what the best strategy would be to defeat Bush. Instead, Landrieu's initial loss was the best thing to happen to the Dems. The best strategy to use against Bush was now obvious. And Bush/Rove and Co. had been knocked down a peg. Even the compliant media had to notice. It was a brand new ballgame.
The Lott affair followed just a week later, and the GOP was starting to bleed. The media sharks started to circle Republicans as they systematically made one blunder after another. For the GOP, 2002 amazingly ended on a sour note -- with little improvement in early 2003. The economy continued to collapse, hundreds of thousands of jobs continued to dissappear (Bush's response -- kill the jobs report), support for war ebbed, Bush's numbers continued to slide from "immortal", to "mortal", to "struggling". While the issue of race continued to get lots of attention, Bush renominated Pickering. And his team announced deficits as far as the eye could see (but don't "hyperventilate" about it!).
Now the GOP is on the defensive, struggling to defend actions that have brought conomic ruin to the states, a state of perpetual war, and economic distress. Draconian tax cuts have boxed in budget planners trying to use fiscal policy to stimulate the economy. Their solution? More tax cuts -- an idea laughed into submission the past couple of weeks. The nation's interest rates are nearly at zero, preventing the use of monetary policy to drive the nation out of recession.
And the GOP holds the entire government, unable to blame Democrats for ANYTHING. This is their economy. Their war. And it's safe to assume we'll have very little in the way of good news the next two years.
But ultimately, we can trace the GOP's sudden collapse to one lonely Democratic senator in conservative Louisiana. She was the mouse that roared, and the political landscape subsequently shifted 180 degrees.
In politics, one can never assume anything.Posted January 22, 2003 08:34 AM | Comments (141)