Ask me anything... within reason
Here’s another old article of mine from 2008, this one dated October 10, just a month before the election. I had wanted to repost this anyway, because only the first two sentences currently remain online (the new Radaronline ate Balk’s Radar, but kept decapitated stubs of all the old articles, presumably for search purposes) and I’d like it to be available, but it’s particularly timely now, I think.
Caption on the photo above:
Are The Republicans Better Off Losing This Election?
By Peter Feld 10/10/08 4:00 PM
Did anyone notice that John McCain didn’t take his dive until the markets tanked?
Mike Huckabee, clown politician-turned-Fox News Channel host, recently joked, “We may have the first election in history where it’s the winner who demands the recount!” The bad news for Barack Obama is that his victory margin will probably be too big for that.
Before the worst of the fiscal meltdown, I cautioned against rosy scenarios. Now it looks like the polls that are most generous to Obama may be the most correct—the Rasmussen and Gallup daily tracking polls that have him at or above 50 percent.
Skip this next part, it’s no longer interesting:
Rasmussen, with a 5-point lead for Obama (50 percent-45 percent) may not look as good for the Democrat as Gallup’s 10-point lead (51 percent-41 percent). But actually, it’s fine: with a smaller number of undecided voters, McCain has less chance to catch up.
Rasmussen uses controversial “robo-calling” (automated polling by voicemail), which generally cuts down on the number of undecideds—more than a few McCain supporters are embarrassed to tell live operators how they are voting. Party lines are so deeply etched that McCain probably has a floor of 46 percent. But that still leaves room for a substantial Obama win.
(But in case you did read that, I should note here the final results: Obama 53%, McCain 46%.) Here’s the more relevant part, emphasis added:
Unfortunately, that means Obama is screwed. It’s obvious he’ll take office with his hands tied behind his back thanks to the war, the deficit, and the Crash of ‘08. Even worse, he’ll have heavy majorities of Democrats in both the House and Senate.
Full responsibility plus zero options equals political disaster for Obama and the Democrats.
Each time the Democrats have held both the presidency and strong congressional majorities, it’s been a trainwreck. Bill Clinton barely got Democrats on the Hill to pass his economic program—which produced the prosperity we’re all so nostalgic for this week—and they killed his health care plan. After two years, Clinton was rewarded with a Republican majority for the rest of his term, leading ultimately to the public release of a government-sponsored report on his sexual practices. The first president whose semen stains became federal property—this is what happens when Democrats control all branches of government.
Clinton, however, thrived with a Republican Congress around to share responsibility for risky decisions like the Kosovo war. (The impeachment unpleasantness aside, of course.)
It took Democrats 12 years to recover from Jimmy Carter’s presidency. If only the genial Gerald Ford had won the very tight 1976 election, instead of Carter and a Democratic Congress, the Republicans would have held power during those malaise years of energy shortage, Middle East turmoil, stagflation and unemployment. Ford and his chief of staff, the young Richard B. Cheney, would have been blamed. The country would never have turned to Ronald Reagan. Dan Quayle would be quietly managing his family’s small newspapers, and George W. Bush would never have given up drinking.
To be sure, the Democrats have caught some lucky breaks over the years. In the summer of 1988, Michael Dukakis was leading George Bush Sr. by 17 points, but wisely took a dive. The recession of 1991-92, which cost Bush his reelection, was way overdue.
And if John Kerry had been elected four years ago, he’d be running for reelection right now, as the markets unravel. We’d probably elect John McCain to clean up the mess. Kerry saw this coming, and fed the Republicans a steady diet of flip-flops, gaffes, and soporific oratory. He was able to watch the grim events of the past four years from the comfort of the Senate cloakroom.
Obama can hope for a Rev. Wright book tour, a Tony Rezko plea deal, or even those Diebold machines to let him off the hook. But it looks like it’ll be no use: the Democrats are stuck with this cleanup. Look for a rough 2010 election cycle.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!