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Predicting the outcome of the ’06 midterms
Posted by: McQ on Friday, August 04, 2006

OK, political junkie and/or speculation time ... all for good fun.

Pollsters, pundits and analysts are getting more comfortable with their predictions as the '06 midterms approach. One such outfit is "Crystal Ball", (Dr. Larry Sabato, the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia & founder of the Center for Politics and David Wasserman is the Crystal Ball's House Editor).
Just over one month ago, the Crystal Ball argued that a larger wave than currently existed at the time would have to build in order for Republicans to lose their congressional majorities. At the time, the race-by-race rather than national dynamic of competitive races pointed more towards a "micro-wave" than a "macro-wave" for out-of-power Democrats.

But now, with a quarter of time elapsed between that pulse-reading and the election, surer signs are emerging that something more substantial than a "micro-wave" is heating up this summer. Historical trends and big picture indicators—generic congressional ballot tests and approval ratings of President Bush's job performance in particular - have always been heavily stacked against the GOP in this "sixth year itch" cycle, but aggregations of more race-specific indicators are now suggesting that Republicans are headed for their most serious midterm losses in decades.
They go into some detail as to the race specific indicators (and they're worth reading for political junkies) which support their assertion. But I've got to tell you, my gut tells me they're right. I think there are going to be some shocked Republicans on the wednesday morning following election day.

So the boys at the aptly named "Crystal Ball" get specific as to how they see this all falling out in November:
At this stage, the Crystal Ball is shifting its outlook from a Democratic gain of 6-8 to a Democratic gain of 12-15 seats in the House. We also believe that our original guestimate of a Democratic gain of 2 or 3 seats in the Senate is probably too low; we now expect a Democratic Senate gain of a minimum of 3 seats and a maximum of 6 seats—that's right, we know that the Democrats would take over the Senate at 6. It is still a long shot, but it is not the long shot of long shots that it once was. We can see a clear pathway to a Democratic Senate pickup of 4 or 5 seats, and at that point it is simply a matter of the Democrats getting lucky and securing one additional seat from among several possibilities. In the governorships we will now be surprised if Democrats do not pick up at least 4 net governorships, bringing them to a total of 26 of the 50 statehouses. The Democratic gubernatorial gains could even be as high as 6 statehouses.
To recap: 12-15 seats in the House, 3-6 in the Senate and 26 out of 50 Governorships. So if they hit the max in each area, they have majorities in the House, Senate and Governorships.

Everything I've read says the House is definitely headed for a change. Can you say "Speaker Pelosi" (and from a strictly selfish blogging perspective, it would be wonderful)? And given my desire for a split Congress, the House in Dem hands is fine. They will, and I can almost promise this, self-destruct within the 2 years they have it prior to '08.

The Senate, on the other hand, well I'm not so excited about the possiblity of that going Dem as well. Nope, want that in Republican hands. And, as Sean at myelectionanalysis.com points out, an event yesterday may have done that:
Congratulations Tennessee Voters: By nominating Bob Corker, you may well have saved the Republican Senate majority.
BTW, go visit Sean's site if you haven't. It is a political junkie's heaven.

Anyway, I'm inclined, at the moment, to agree with the Crystal Ball guys in general. I'm of the opinion that the margins of loss are going to be much greater than the Republicans believe and that they are going to lose the House. But specifically I'm not ready, quite yet, to give the Senate to them. Like I said I want a divided Congress.

So ... do you agree with Crystal Ball? No? Think the Reps can still stem the bleeding, catch up in the polls, match the activism on the left and turn out enough to hold on to both the House and the Senate? Think the Reps don't have that sort of problem?

Lay it out folks and let's see your work.
 
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Before I go read the analysis, I’ll just say that I think Republicans are FAR more happy with the House than the Senate this year, so if anything the Dems are more likely to gain the Senate and not -quite- gain the House.

If the analysis convinces me otherwise, I’ll come back to make a concession.
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://www.thepatriette.com/dangerous
Not going to give specific numbers, suffice it to say I think the GOP holds onto both, even if by a slim margin.

"Moral victories" again for the Dems
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I’ve been predicting for months that the Democrats will win the House in November, albeit by a tight margin. Partially because I see a rift amongst Republicans, mostly due to their distancing themselves from Bush. When the head is weak, the body is weak. Now all I have to do is qualify my prediction, which I haven’t really sat down to do in any structured fashion. Perhaps it’s time I do that.

As for the Senate, I don’t know. That one’s a tough call.
 
Written By: Robb Pearson
URL: http://www.robbpearson.com
Speaker Pelosi does not sound good, no matter what.
 
Written By: David R. Block
URL: http://
I think there are going to be some shocked Republicans on the wednesday morning following election day.
McQ, from your mouth, to God’s ears. Not that I get all warm and happy contemplating Speaker Pelosi. The Dems could do themselves a favor by marking another to inherit that throne, so that the GOP can’t use the specter of the Pelosi Monster as a campaign tactic.

In addition to polls, I also know how anti-GOP many folks in my red county have become; people who voted for Bush are now regretful of their vote. Around the water cooler, almost nobody defends him.

The GOP has got to get back in touch with the libertarian strain of conservatism, and until it does, libertarians should advocate gridlock and the checks and balances that only function in the absence of one party rule.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
I don’t think it makes a lot of sense making predictions this far out; the primary elections aren’t even over yet, and the only people who care about politics at this point are the politics junkies.

The general population won’t start paying attention until mid-October or so, and that’s a good ten weeks out.

That said — I think the R’s will hold their majorities for five reasons:
1) The power of incumbency is considerable.
2) McCain-Feingold greatly strengthens the incumbents by outlawing criticism of them in the 60 days prior to the election.
3) The R incumbents up for re-election are generally well-liked in their communities, and I don’t think the D’s will be able to nationalize the election to the extent that people will throw out R-representatives they like in order to punish a president they don’t.
4) No matter how disgusted the R’s are with congress and the president over things like spending, they would have good reason to think that the D’s would be worse.
5) The R’s will again be successful in portraying the D’s as obstructionists who refuse to take national security seriously.
 
Written By: Fredrik Nyman
URL: http://
I don’t think it makes a lot of sense making predictions this far out...
Its all for fun and enjoyment, Fredrik (and in reality means nothing). Like I said, this is for political junkies.

As to your points, they’re good ones. This election as much as any past election will show us the power of the redrawn districts. And I agree, incumbents always have an advantage.

But then, there are sea change years where none of that really matters as much as it usually does. It think the two sides for prognosticators are those who essentially agree with your points and see them holding true this November and those (like me) who see a change coming (whether it is an actual sea change or whether it is a minor wave is yet to be determined).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Its all for fun and enjoyment, Fredrik
I could be wrong, but I read his remarks as aspirationsal. Sure, politics being dynamic things can change a great deal in 10 weeks. But only a pro-GOP ostrich could fail to observe the pervasive desire to vote against that party. Whether that is enough for the Dems to retake one or both houses, we will see.

But there is a reason the GOP’s favortie Democrat, Lieberman, appears poised for a primary defeat. And it isn’t because Ned Lamont is the most brilliant statesman and compelling candidate in CT’s history.



 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Whether that is enough for the Dems to retake one or both houses, we will see.
I think that is Fredrik’s point. The electoral and political landscape have been undergoing quite a reshaping over the past few years and much of the redistricting has put incumbents in a pretty good position.

But the point that caught my attention in the article cited was this:
But there are already strong indications that this year is different: more voters and local Democratic leaders than ever before seem ready to cast aside their personal affections for longtime GOP incumbents for the sake of sending Congress and the Bush administration a message. Possible Democratic takeover seats such as Rep. Johnson’s and Virginia GOP Rep. Thelma Drake’s, which seemed implausible targets as recently as a year ago, have slowly moved down the pipeline into contention, are now fully engaged by party committees alongside the nation’s most competitive. These are the kinds of movements that are characteristic of "macro-wave" elections, the only kind of election that would flip the leadership of Congress to Democrats this year.
It is those types of seats (pretty darn safe) moving into contention which give me the feeling that a change is in the offing. Fredrik could end up being right, we’ll see, but as I stated, sometimes the anger of the voters is enough to overcome all of that stuff and my political gut tells me this is one of those times.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ - Good points.

I do agree that the conditions are favorable for a change — even for a sea change — to the extent that there is widespread dislike for the R’s in congress, not only from the usual suspects, but also from people who normally would be inclined to hold their nose and vote for them: fiscal conservatives pissed off by the spending, small-government types pissed off by the expansion of the government; libertarians pissed off by real or imagined restrictions on their freedom; security moms disheartened by the hard slog in Iraq etc.

However, unless there is a national desire to throw the bums out (and I don’t think there is one), I don’t think this is sufficient for the D’s to win the election. They have to give people something appealing to vote for, which they’ve been completely unable to do so far. That may, of course, change between now and November, but I consider it unlikely, as the only thing that unites them seems to be dislike — even hatred — of Bush.

Mona - Yes, it seems likely that Lieberman will lose the primary. But it’s worth noting that only a small subset of the voters — the D faithful — will vote in the CT primary. If they are representative for the general, national electorate, then yes, the R’s are hosed. I don’t think the CT D primary voters are particularly representative of the national electorate though.
 
Written By: Fredrik Nyman
URL: http://
I suspect its more wishful thinking by those yearning to punish the Bush Admin for not championing their pet issue(s). Until the Dem leadership starts acting as adults rather than illogically petulant contrarians, dissatisfaction with the Bush Admin likely does not translate into affirmative votes for Dems.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
If they are representative for the general, national electorate, then yes, the R’s are hosed. I don’t think the CT D primary voters are particularly representative of the national electorate though.
Two years ago this could not have happened. Netroots or not, Lieberman could not have been unseated. That he is now apparently going down indicates a huge change which polls show carries over among independents and even some self-described Republicans.

When Reason’s Ron Bailey votes for a netroot-endorsed Democrat (Jim Webb), as he did, something is going on. Indeed, I’ve only voted for a Democrat once in my life, and that was for William Proxmire of the justly famous Golden Fleece Awards. In ’06 I may vote a straight Dem ticket.

If the elections were held today, the GOP would be in huge trouble. I can think of scenarios that would change that in ten weeks hence, but I deem them unlikely.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Yes, it seems likely that Lieberman will lose the primary. But it’s worth noting that only a small subset of the voters — the D faithful — will vote in the CT primary. If they are representative for the general, national electorate, then yes, the R’s are hosed. I don’t think the CT D primary voters are particularly representative of the national electorate though.
This kind of heads off topic a bit but...

I cannot help but think that this Anti-Lieberman crusade is going to hurt the D’s chances for taking the Senate (I am an Independent, despite my handle :-). If Lamont takes the primary Lieberman runs unaffiliated. There are more independent voters in CT than D’s or R’s. Joe will for sure have the lions share of their support and will regain his seat. The result is a loss for the D’s. From a party seat count standpoint they are better off letting the "DINO" Lieberman stay in place (sneer quotes are intentional since Joe is a classical Democrat in most senses AFAICT).

Someone tell me again just why the party faithful are focusing so much energy on this primary?
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
Tangentially on-topic:

If the D’s win a majority in the house, would that be sufficient for them to be able to vote to de-fund the Iraq war, necessiting a pull-back aka cut&run?
 
Written By: Fredrik Nyman
URL: http://
Mona — Isn’t Bailey a long-time opponent of the Iraq war? If so, I don’t think it’s particularly remarkable that he would vote for Webb.
 
Written By: Fredrik Nyman
URL: http://
If the D’s win a majority in the house, would that be sufficient for them to be able to vote to de-fund the Iraq war, necessiting a pull-back aka cut&run?
If I remember correctly it would take both the House and the Senate (Congress shall have the power ... to raise and support armies) to do that. Secondly, I think the D’s leadership would have a tough time convincing moderate Ds to go along with such a move unless it gets a lot worse in Iraq than it is now.

Lastly, if they did, I think it would be a disaster for them in ’08 on the national security front, whereas "staying the course", even in a bad situation ("hey, we’re just trying to clean up this mess the Reps made") might work to their political advantage in that sphere.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Fredrik — Bailey hasn’t spent much time discussing Iraq, and I actually don’t know what his view on that is. He has quite a few other reasons, however, for voting for a Democrat — which he hasn’t done since 1972. Bailey sets forth those reasons here, and why voting for gridlock is the patriotic thing to do.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Mona - blockquote>In addition to polls, I also know how anti-GOP many folks in my red county have become; people who voted for Bush are now regretful of their vote. Around the water cooler, almost nobody defends him.

The GOP has got to get back in touch with the libertarian strain of conservatism, and until it does, libertarians should advocate gridlock and the checks and balances that only function in the absence of one party rule. Agree.

I think the election will also punish the Republicans for pandering to the overreaching Religious Right.

Speaker Pelosi? As Denny waddles off to his K-Street lobbyist feeding trough with other Corupticans?

Pelosi is only a fraction of the fun ahead. Will she trust Clintonista hatchetman and ex-Israeli intelligence officer Rahm Emmanuel to work with her or just to set the table for Hillary in 2008?

You then have some of the old black bulls that have been in Congress forever finally taking control of key Committes like Judiciary, Ways and Means, Agriculture. Conyers at Judiciary has a stack of "investigations" he has been waiting 20 years to "launch", as well as his Impeachment Resolution of Bush and his planned hearings on slavery reparations. Rangle says people won’t recognize Congress after he gets some things done on Ways and Means.

Outside them, you have other radicals ascending - Obey at Appropriations and Hollywood bagman Henry Waxman who has "years and years of backlogged investigations waiting since 1994 to get started on."

Sadly, the Republicans have become so corrupted by greed, corporate cronyism, favoring the rich over other Americans - such reckless spenders and trapped by religious ideologues - they deserve to lose power.And the skids will be greased by an incoherent, bungling President of highly suspect judgment.
I suspect its more wishful thinking by those yearning to punish the Bush Admin for not championing their pet issue(s). Until the Dem leadership starts acting as adults rather than illogically petulant contrarians, dissatisfaction with the Bush Admin likely does not translate into affirmative votes for Dems.

Written By: bains
Alas, bains, when people take their wishful thinking and anger into the voting booth, it does indeed translate into affirmative votes for the Democrats. The sense that people (outside the conservatives in the Richest 2-3% of Americans} are angry and sick of Bush and the Republican’s old schtick is palpable. Like 1994, this is a "throw the bums out" year.

Example? I present again poster Mona:
Indeed, I’ve only voted for a Democrat once in my life, and that was for William Proxmire of the justly famous Golden Fleece Awards. In ’06 I may vote a straight Dem ticket.

If the elections were held today, the GOP would be in huge trouble. I can think of scenarios that would change that in ten weeks hence, but I deem them unlikely.

++=============================================================

Lieberman corollary.

2 months ago it looked like Ned Lamont would make a "respectable showing". A week ago it looked like he would beat Lieberman but lose to him in the general election. Now it looks like even with fellow Democrats urging Lieberman not to run as an Independent, the polls seem to show Lamont gathering votes and with a good shot at winning anyways despite what Lieberman does — as Iraq descends into what looks like a Civil War that would bog us down another 5-10 years by Pentagon predictions if we "Stay Bush’s Course".

In a news article, voters say that they and most of their friends liked Lieberman, but he screwed up royally by siding with Bush - and now he should accept the vote and bow out as a good Democrat - rather than seek to save his skin by running outside the Democratic Party. The kicker was that the people that said it were independents, not Democrats.

By September, maybe early October, we will see which way Iraq goes. If it is to Civil War, not many Americans, if any, wish to save a democratically elected Islamist nation that hates America from itself. Not for a Bush bagjob continuing over the next 10 years burning through 80 US casualties and 3 billion a week.

 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Personal prediction is 30 in the house, four in senate. Chafee, Santorum, Conrad Burns, Talent. DeWine, Ensign, Allen, and the Tennesee seat are possible, but have not melted down enough to lose as of today.

I think Democrat control of the house in 06 and a razor-thin republican margin in the Senate, with a continued bad economy (which has never felt as good for the public as the numbers will tell you) is going to damage Bush, not the Democrats, result in the passing of bills outlining a positive Democratic agenda, and pave the way to 08.

Thus the downside of gridlock: somebody wins in the end.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
My strong guess is that Democrats would support a complete and immediate withdrawal from Iraq if, and only if, they had tons of military brass supporting that move. I agree with McQ that they’d be delighted to say that whatever they do is all about cleaning up George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld’s mess — which it would be — but they are very desirous that national security should cease to be the GOP’s trump card. They would act accordingly.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
On a national scale, 2006 is shaping up to be a Democratic rout. Right track/wrong track and generic ballot polls are clearly showing Democrats should take over Congress. The battle will be much tougher, however, on the local level (all politics is where, again, hmm?).

Take the Senate, for example. I see 4 pickups (Santorum, DeWine, Chafee, Frist’s open seat), and one potential one (Talent). The sixth one will be tougher. Maybe Jon Kyl or George Allen—but those are longshots.
 
Written By: Kenton Ngo
URL: http://www.kentonngo.com/750volts
Seemingly minor events can have drastic effects on elections. And we’re seeing some major events occurring right now.

One thing is for certain, Republicans are hoping the evening news tonight doesn’t feature footage of of tens of thousands of Iraqis cheering to the burning of US flags in Sadr city. And that’s not likely to stop over the next 5 weeks.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
This is all well and good and just for fun like you said but this is the same kind of polling that told us the Democrats would win the last mid term as well as the last two presidential contests.

They were the preemptive favorites going in. These guys love the polls so much that when the real elections results didn’t match their exit poll the cry went out that the whole thing was fixed. I mean an exit poll can’t be wrong and how could someone say NO to their fine leadership and all of the benefits that this would bring us.

There would be no war in the Middle East and the wheel chair bound would walk again if only they could get elected.

You could take the same "news" articles written about the polls in 2002 adjust the numbers slightly and the dateline and use them again today with no one being the wiser. They could plagiarize themselves in the ultimate self pleasure.

I mean there is no way the republicans can win again. Haven’t you guys heard yet. The republicans are really dumb. If it wasn’t for Rush Limbaugh they would not know what to think.

 
Written By: Kevin Watkins
URL: http://www.disposablewisdom.com
This is not delighted Iraqis greeting the troops with thanks and flowers, my emphasis:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Tens of thousands of Shiites thronged a Baghdad slum Friday to show support for Hezbollah as Arab anger toward Israel mounted on the Muslim holy day….

Iraq’s Shiite heartland converged on the capital’s Sadr City district, chanting "Death to Israel, Death to America" in the biggest pro-Hezbollah rally since the conflict began July 12.
The situation in the Middle East, and especially in Iraq, is increasingly dire. We must have competent people in charge to even begin to fix this. It appears we are spilling blood and enormous treasure to create democracy for those who hate us. Voting Americans are not likely to be forgiving of the party that engendered this clusterf*ck, I would guess.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
We must have competent people in charge to even begin to fix this.
Well that’s sort of the problem, Mona ... I don’t think most folks, even those angry at Bush and the Republicans, feel those "competent people" are waiting in the wings among the Democrats. And that’s why I think they’ll only take the House and only by a couple.

But that’s fine with me.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I don’t think most folks, even those angry at Bush and the Republicans, feel those "competent people" are waiting in the wings among the Democrats.
If that is so, then there are no competent people. Yet we know that many predicted exactly what we see in Iraq. They were not Bush 43 Republicans, and many were Democrats, e.g., Howard Dean or Russ Feingold. People who were right when the rest of us were in a frenzy of liberationist enthusiasm, would seem to be those who merit listening to now.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
I expect that the republicans will hold the senate, barely, but lose the house badly through losing 30-50 seats.

Yes, I do expect the house to be a bloodbath for the republicans this year. The reality is that although the GOP tries to be a big tent party, they have engaged in too much pandering to the middle and far to little pursuing of conservative or libertarian values. I expect that 50-70% of the usual voters for the GOP are currently unhappy in one way or another, and while they won’t want to give up the senate, just in case a supreme court justice retires, they will happily split ticket vote and hand the house to the Democrats simply to remind Bush that without them he is nothing.

No matter how it turns out, the campaigning leading up to the election is going to be the nastiest we’ve seen in decades.
 
Written By: Mark
URL: http://
People who were right when the rest of us were in a frenzy of liberationist enthusiasm, would seem to be those who merit listening to now.
Being right about something doesn’t necessarily bless one with competence, Mona. Howard Dean and Russ Feingold hardly inspire confidence in their competence given Feingold’s name on that abominable law with McCain and Dean being, well, Dean.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
People who were right when the rest of us were in a frenzy of liberationist enthusiasm, would seem to be those who merit listening to now.
Being right about something doesn’t necessarily bless one with competence, Mona.
Wow. Am I seeing a revelation here or am I just seeing pink elephants again?

Now when someone as stubborn and steadfast as McQ makes a statement such as this, it gives me pause and inhibits my impulsiveness to advance a suggestion that maybe McQ is possibly reconsidering the value of the conflict in Iraq.

Inconceivable.
And not to add insult to injury. (Awe, who am I kidding… it’s my job here.)
However. When coupled with an earlier statement like this…
When Hezbollah disbands and renounces its intent to fight until Israel is destroyed and when the PLA agrees to renounces its terrorist factions, recognizes Israel’s right to exist and enters serious peace negotiations in good faith, then I’ll begin to consider arguments by moderates and moderate states that they’re having some effect.
Because, after all. When the WMD argument failed, there was always the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that was a “stable, pro-Western, moderate Iraq”. With recent events suggesting that the Iraqi people are generally with entities such as Hezbollah, it is becoming persuasive that this will not come to fruition.

Of course, there is still the possibility that a stable, pro-Western, moderate Iraq will exist.

It is also possible that I will rise on the morrow absent a crippling hangover.

Trust me.

I will be wishing for both possibilities.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Being right about something doesn’t necessarily bless one with competence.
Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt! In fact, it fairly screams competence as far as the issue concerned goes.

But I’m curious, does being absolutely unequivically wrong about something infer incompetence? Or was spending half a trillion dollars and tens of thousands killed or maimed, so that Iraqis could burn US flags in the street while their new leaders approvingly look on all part of the grand plan?
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt! In fact, it fairly screams competence as far as the issue concerned goes.
What’s the old saw about a stopped clock, Davebo?

Would you argue it was competent in the time telling department just because it was right twice a day?
But I’m curious, does being absolutely unequivically wrong about something infer incompetence?
Depends on what you’re wrong about doesn’t it?

Joe Lieberman seems to be wrong about the CT voters. Does that make him incompetent?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ, Howard Dean is not a gadget that is passively "right" twice a day. He is a trained doctor of medical science, and before the invasion of Iraq he counseled against doing so at that time:
The Administration has not explained how a lasting peace, and lasting security, will be achieved in Iraq once Saddam Hussein is toppled.

I, for one, am not ready to abandon the search for better answers.

As a doctor, I was trained to treat illness, and to examine a variety of options before deciding which to prescribe. I worried about side effects and took the time to see what else might work before proceeding to high-risk measures. . . .

We have been told over and over again what the risks will be if we do not go to war.

We have been told little about what the risks will be if we do go to war.

If we go to war, I certainly hope the Administration’s assumptions are realized, and the conflict is swift, successful and clean. I certainly hope our armed forces will be welcomed like heroes and liberators in the streets of Baghdad. I certainly hope Iraq emerges from the war stable, united and democratic. I certainly hope terrorists around the world conclude it is a mistake to defy America and cease, thereafter, to be terrorists.

It is possible, however, that events could go differently...

It is possible that Iraq will try to force our troops to fight house to house in the middle of cities - on its turf, not ours - where precision-guided missiles are of little use. . . .

There are other risks. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.
He was right. Those reasons for either not invading, or for not doing so per the "plan" that Bush adopted, make Dean prescient, as well as brave — these were not popular cautions at the time. Yeah, ok, Howard did that scream thing that was cause for endless lampooning by Bush supporters, and he says some mean things about Republicans. I don’t care; he got a truly important thing right, while the Bush and his supporters were utterly and tragically wrong inbetween their giggles over Dean regarding a triviality.




 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
I, for one, am not ready to abandon the search for better answers.
This early point is where I disagreed with Dean. I was ready to abandon the search, because it didn’t appear that even the kernel of another idea was forthcoming.

After 9/11, I (and many others) wanted a new Middle East policy. I was willing to listen to any and all ideas from people much more knowledgeable than me on the subject, as long as the policy was different, reasonable, and would attempt change instead of containment.

Over many months, we were presented with: the administration’s plan, reasonable criticism of that plan, and unreasonable criticism of that plan. That’s all. I could support the administration’s plan and accept the reasonable criticism that went with it, or support searching for a better answer while pursuing the current policy. Given that what I wanted was a new policy, it was easy for me to decide which to support.

I still support the decision. We did not have any good options, we had varying degrees of bad ones. Even three years later, I’ve not seen any other answers put forth, only criticism. Regardless of whether the administration’s optimistic view or the critics’ pessimistic view comes to pass, I believe it was the correct decision. I did not dismiss the initial critism, I accepted its potential from the beginning, because as horrible as the idea that Iraq could succumb to civil war is, I hold in the cold calculus of war that it is preferable to what would happen to both us and the innocent Middle-Eastern majority if the jihadist minority ever succeeded in a biological or nuclear attack on the US or Great Britain.
 
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
On the original topic, I honestly believe the Democratic Party is going to again fail to take advantage of a huge opportunity. Even ignoring the issues, the Republicans’ majority is much too large to sustain in modern politics. But the Democrats still haven’t gotten their act together, which is potentially bad for all of us. Regardless of one’s party and beliefs, it isn’t good for one party to have a large majority for very long as our system is designed to tend toward balance.

I’m predicting that against all odds Republicans will keep majorities in both houses, although much narrower, with the House lead slim enough to prevent them from continuing to do pretty much whatever they want.
 
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
History may yet show that those of us who advocated the war in Iraq were wrong, either because the idea was flawed or the execution was flawed, or both. I think all of us who advocated the war understood that there was a risk that a war could lead to wider instability, but, as Scout points out, the status quo was inherently unstable and Hussein’s regime was a major source of that instability. I personally believe that we would have had to go in eventually no matter what, and waiting would have only made the job harder.

Returning to the topic, I suspect that in the long term the war will, ironically, hurt the Democrats. This is where all of those amateur pundits who have been straining to find paralells to Vietnam may finally find one.

The Vietnam-era anti-war movement, flushed with righteouness and success, found a home within the Democratic party and changed that party’s foreign policy in ways that contributed to the part’s decline in the following decades.

A prime example is found in the person of John Kerry, a leader of the Vietnam-era anti-war movement who won a Senate seat as the leading American proponent of the "Nuclear Freeze" movement that originated with the European Left and Soviet-backed "peace" groups.

The Iraq war is having a similar effect by radicalizing the internet wing of the Democratic party and energizing the radicals, like Feingold.

I have never been interested in polls or handicapping elections, so I cannot comment as to who will win in this year’s Congressional races or what the margins will be. I do agree with this observation by C. Ford:
The sense that people (outside the conservatives in the Richest 2-3% of Americans} are angry and sick of Bush and the Republican’s old schtick is palpable. Like 1994, this is a "throw the bums out" year.
In terms of longer trends, though, I think that the netroots will prove to be a poison pill for the Democratic party. As their power and influence within the party grows the Democrats will find themselves once again in the political wilderness.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Scout and Aldo, Dean did not rule out that we might have to eventually depose Saddam. He even advocated doing it unilaterally if it turned out to be indicated. But he correctly noted that if we did that, we needed to plan for the various realities on the ground in Iraq, including the sectarian hatreds that Saddam was ruthlessly suppressing. Without that, he foresaw likely disaster.

The Democrats were badly burned from the perception that the McGovern wing and its hippie pacifists took over their party. (That perception was, however, fueled as much by Jimmy Carter’s impotency vis-a-vis the Iranian hostage crisis as anything else.) They are not going to let that repeat.

The world is teeming with dictators and scoundrels. The United States cannot remove them all by force of arms. If that is to be the option of quick resort, we will bankrupt ourselves, destroy our military and lose our ability to credibly back up our positions by force. What real threat do we pose now to Iran or North Korea, as they watch us being humiliated in Iraq?

But if you still think we should have invaded Iraq when we did, then it would seem there is literally no outcome which you think could make that the wrong decision. By your calculations, it was right even if it was wrong. Well, the American public isn’t going to sign on to that, and will reject impetuous warmongering just as quickly as it will effete pacifism.

Finally, I am amused to see Russ Feingold dismissed as a "radical." He isn’t. He’s a garden variety liberal Democrat, who marches to his own drummer regardless of party demands. That’s why, for example, he voted to hear the articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton — he thought it was the right thing to do. I disagree with Feingold about many things, but he is a principled moralist, not a radical.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Scout and Aldo, Dean did not rule out that we might have to eventually depose Saddam. He even advocated doing it unilaterally if it turned out to be indicated. But he correctly noted that if we did that, we needed to plan for the various realities on the ground in Iraq, including the sectarian hatreds that Saddam was ruthlessly suppressing. Without that, he foresaw likely disaster.
I understand and that is fair to point out. I was concerned that he would not have the support of his own party when he decided it needed to be done, and without that support he would not act. I also didn’t believe that he would act unilaterally, even if he thought it was the right thing to do. And, as I said before, I did not want to wait for a sufficent indicator from a candidate with a base anti-war position.
The Democrats were badly burned from the perception that the McGovern wing and its hippie pacifists took over their party. (That perception was, however, fueled as much by Jimmy Carter’s impotency vis-a-vis the Iranian hostage crisis as anything else.) They are not going to let that repeat.
I agree that that is the perception. I don’t know if it is actually true or not, but it does often appear that way. I believe you are correct that Carter fueled the perception. I think he actually still contributes to it. Plus the anti-war movement is very, very vocal.
The world is teeming with dictators and scoundrels. The United States cannot remove them all by force of arms. If that is to be the option of quick resort, we will bankrupt ourselves, destroy our military and lose our ability to credibly back up our positions by force. What real threat do we pose now to Iran or North Korea, as they watch us being humiliated in Iraq?
I understand what you are saying. There are varying degrees of the scoundrels’ impact on the US, so my position uses that as a guide. For the record, I would prefer that no scoundrels be removed by force, but recognize that it sometimes may be necessary. I do not agree that invading Iraq was an option resorted to quickly, so we may have to just disagree on that, as we will on the idea that we are being humiliated. I strongly disagree.

One real threat we pose to Iran and North Korea, with our two-war capability fully engaged and the possibility that no ally could help us if necessary, is nuclear. I would think they know this. The worst time to violently engage the modern US is when our conventional military is fully deployed and pool of options limited.
But if you still think we should have invaded Iraq when we did, then it would seem there is literally no outcome which you think could make that the wrong decision. By your calculations, it was right even if it was wrong. Well, the American public isn’t going to sign on to that, and will reject impetuous warmongering just as quickly as it will effete pacifism.
Again, we are going to have to reasonably disagree. I don’t believe it was right even if it was wrong, although I understand that perception of me from your position. You and I have a fundamental disagreement on the definition of "wrong", as do many people. That means people also disagree on what is and is not "warmongering". While I agree that Americans won’t sign onto it, one side of the debate will sign onto action that will be perceived as warmongering by the other side. This is why debate like ours is important and our system works well, lest the whole becomes truly impetuous or truly effete.
 
Written By: Scout
URL: http://
Mona,

Why are you giving us the Hadith on Dean’s pronouncements? My comments on Iraq were simply an expression of my own opinion. I deliberately offered no comment on Dean’s utterances. Howard Dean is a dime store demogogue who I would file away in the same folder as Ann Coulter if only he were a little wittier.

Of course Dean is an icon of the internet Left, or at least he was until his primary campaign sank without a bubble, but I hardly think his comments supporting a unilateral American invasion to depose Saddam are indicative of what Dean represents to the fever swamp or what the swamp denizes themselves believe. In fact, apart from the readers of Q and O, most people would probably be surprised to learn that Dean took that position, and I doubt that he would have it any different.


The Democrats were badly burned from the perception that the McGovern wing and its hippie pacifists took over their party... They are not going to let that repeat.

You seem surprisingly comfortable in the role of Democratic party spokeswoman.


The world is teeming with dictators and scoundrels. The United States cannot remove them all by force of arms.

Who advocated that? I believe that all foreign policy decisions must ultimately be made on an ad hoc basis. The fact that we used force of arms to depose one dictator does not obligate us to use the same tactic against every other dictator and scoundrel in the world. The history behind our war with Iraq is unique.

But if you still think we should have invaded Iraq when we did, then it would seem there is literally no outcome which you think could make that the wrong decision.

The first sentence in my comment was a concession that events may prove that my position on Iraq was wrong. How did you take away from that the idea that I will never think that I was wrong, no matter what happens?


By your calculations, it was right even if it was wrong.

As of today, I still believe that we were right to invade Iraq. You obviously believe that we were wrong to do so. If I were to use your psychologically charged rhetoric to express this simple disagreement I would say that by your calculations it was wrong even if it were right.


Finally, I am amused to see Russ Feingold dismissed as a "radical."

Perhaps radical is the wrong word. I chose it more for the symmetry that it gave the sentence than for accuracy. Still, Feingold is part of the McGovernite wing of the Democratic party. The fact that he has been emboldened to consider a run for President in 2008 in the wake of the Iraq war supports my premise that this wing has been energized, and contradicts your declaration that the Democratic party will not allow that wing to reassert itself.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://

 
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