Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Senate: A Republican Victory In Defeat?

It’s time for a small confession: I was hoping we would not capture the Senate. I wanted to see us get really close, like 49 to 51, but I did not want to cross that magic threshold to 50 votes in 2010. I wanted that to happen in 2012, when we could have made it closer to 60 to 40. Why you ask?

First of all, let me explain that this is not sour grapes. I have held this view from the beginning of the election season, though I haven't shared it here. Secondly, let me add that I rarely believe in winning through losing. There are some instances in our history where this has worked (cough cough John McCain cough cough), but it’s almost always best to win. Yet, this is one of those. Here’s why:

The Rational Public: The American public can be rather poor at understanding the things that don’t make sense. Or, said different, the American public is very practical and has little sympathy for excuses that are based on legalese or technicalities or things that don’t make common sense, i.e. the filibuster.

The filibuster is not something that makes sense in America-proper. For Americans, if you want something done, you do it; you don’t first seek the permission of a small minority who can hold you up at every turn. If a CEO wants to sell a plant, they do it. They don’t have to overcome a filibuster by their other officers. If parents want to move, they do it. They don’t have to overcome a filibuster by their kids. And so on.

But the Senate doesn’t work that way. With only a small majority in the Senate, the Republicans would have struggled to pass anything. The public would not have understood this, and would have turned on the Republicans for achieving nothing.

Moreover, the Democrats would have been insulated from the charge of being obstructionists because on bill after bill, eight or nine Democrats would have joined the Republicans, secure in the knowledge that their votes wouldn’t actually help the bill pass. This would have allowed the Democrats to continue to claim that they are an ideologically-broad party, i.e. a big tent, and that it’s the Republicans who are the extremists. Not to mention that those 8 or 9 would have been people like Ben Nelson who badly need to improve their conservative/independent “street cred” before their re-election campaigns in 2012.

At the same time, we would have been treated to the spectacle of RINOs fighting to create bills that might attract Democrats. Thus, as far as the public would have been concerned, the Republicans would have been to blame for doing nothing even though they held the majority, and they would have been accused of compromising their principles and having learned nothing from the election. At the same time, key Democrats could claim to be conservative/independents, even though it was all a smokescreen.

By not winning the Senate, all of that goes away. Now it will be up to the Democrats to create legislation, and they will be stuck with the obstructionist label from both sides as Obama demands they move left, which they cannot do because of the House and the filibuster, and the House demands they move right, which they cannot do because of Obama and their base. That is the worst of both worlds.

Obama’s Dilemma: With the Senate remaining in Democratic hands, Obama also faces a huge problem. Everyone is asking if he can now become like Bill Clinton and revive his dead presidency. He can’t.

Whereas Clinton lacked principles and only wanted to be loved, Obama thinks he is entitled to being seen as a genius and he has shown no flexibility in his personality or in his political career. Thus, barring something we haven’t seen, he lacks the personality traits that will let him make this kind of shift. The Democrats winning the Senate only makes this worse. Clinton had no choice but to move to the right after 1994 because Republicans held the legislature and the Democrats were demoralized. Attempting to stand in the Republicans’ way would have been pointless, so he let them have their way and he claimed credit for the most popular parts of the Republican agenda. Obama faces a different landscape: he still has power through the Senate and his people will expect him to use it. That means Obama cannot move to the right like Clinton did.

Nor can he talk to the right, but stay to the left to satisfy his base. If he talks to the right, the House will call his bluff and send a bill to the Senate that includes everything he says he wants. The Senate could kill it, but that would mean standing in the way of the things Obama claims he wants. That risks alienating both sides and the public at large.

Thus, Obama must continue to talk to the left and act to the left, and that means the Senate must grind everything to a halt for the next two years. But that is really bad politics. At a time when the public wants “something” done about the bad economy, grinding everything to a halt will be a really hard sell with the public. Moreover, this won’t inspire his base because they will still wonder why the President and the Senate can’t deliver on their pet peeves. . . . “can’t you just jam gay rights into the budget bill?”

Had the Republicans won the Senate, this math would be very different. Obama could have jumped far left to please his base and vetoed everything, or he could have moved to the right to please the public. Either choice would have been better than where he is right now -- stuck in no man’s land clinging to rhetoric no one believes and policies no one likes.

That’s why I think we won by losing in this instance. What do you think?


Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - I don't disagree, with, perhaps, one caveat. The economy is a huge, huge, issue. The cyclical nature of the economy could work to Obama's favor in 2012.

If things start to improve at the right time, Obama's re-election chances improve immeasurably. It would be somewhat easier to argue that the Republicans in charge of Congress made the difference.

Now if our economy continues to stagnate and if Bernanke causes "stagflation," then all bets are off and we are better off not being in the majority. I do think Mr. Ideologue may feel less willing to compromise since he still controls the White House and the Senate. This may become a game of which party plays politics better, e.g. lay traps designed to box in the opposition and make them compromise or risk looking bad.

Should be interesting. As always, a thought provoking post.

Joel Farnham said...


I agree.

You missed one thing. Some Democrat Senators would be willing to vote for repeal of ObamaCare if only to preserve their worthless careers. It might even get to the veto proof thresh hold. It depends on how bad Obama governs after his little jaunt to the orient.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed. I think you're right on both points, the economy will have a huge effect on people's perceptions of who is doing the best running the government... but, as you also note, the party that gets the credit will be the party that plays the better politics over the issue as it improves. In that, I think we have the advantage because Obama hasn't shown that he's able to relate to people. . . he condescends.

In terms of stagflation, I'm not sure how that can be avoided. Bernanke is taking a huge risk with the dollar, and I think the real danger will be worldwide devaluation to counter this move, which could cause God-knows-what to happen to the economy?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Thanks. I think you're right, but I suspect that it will always end up 1 vote short of a veto. That lets them pretend they wanted to do it, and still not do it -- a very popular campaign strategy for the Democrats.

CrisD said...

In 2012, the "rational public" will look at the situation and be pleased with Obama or farther horrified by Obama. This is due to the deterioration of the economy by liberal principles such as taking over one sixth of the economy as a great second ponzi scheme (social security being the first.) Today they bought more debt and the stock market went up but all our savings will be worth less!! That was his answer to the election.

Which brings me to Obama's dilemna. Obama is NOT a genious. He is an arrogant, poorly educated, unpatriotic, sneak. He copied the ideas of the leftist he hung around with like a mind numbed robot. Obama will keep doing leftists things because he grew up thinking everyone rich and powerful is leftist.

Now, what the congress should do: DEFUND HEALTHCARE PIECE BY PIECE!! Starve it!! Never give it money!! When the New York Times squalks tell 'em to take a hike "elections have consequences" that's what they tell us. Republicans need to grow a pair and stop nagging us--we gave them the vote (except the druggies in California and the Mob in Las Vegas)

Unknown said...

Andrew: I agree. And even if we had taken the majority in the Senate, it still wouldn't have been veto-proof because there would be enough Republicans without the courage of their convictions and enough loyal Democrats who would not vote to override their Messiah's veto. Instead of looking like a bumbling fool, Obama would look like the master planner who stopped the evil Republicans from taking away free, top-notch, cradle-to-grave medical care for everybody on earth and the inner planets.

As it presently stands, the House can make bold moves, and the Senate will dump everything sent to them by the House.

The onus now remains on the messianic resident of the White House and the high-handed Democrat majority in the Senate.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I couldn't agree more -- very well said. I especially agree with your description of Obama. He is not a genius, he's a guy who has never been challenged before and assumes he's a genius because no one has ever told him he's wrong. And you're right about the source of his "ideology," though I hestitate to use that word because it implies thought.... like you, I think he's just copying what he's seen.

I couldn't agree more either about what the Republicans need to do now. The House needs to defund everything Obama did and don't let the Senate jam it back in there.

And, like you, I am furious about Bernanke's "solution" (if we can call it that) to the debt problem. Devaluing the dollar and causing inflation is not a good answer. And if you want to see the disconnect between main street and Wall Street, look no further than the stock market today which is celebrating increased government spending, while the rest of us will be losing 1/3 of what we own.

Ponderosa said...

Something you missed and it is really pretty obvious – the GOP leadership is crazy smart.
Must be the same smarts we 'gots' here in CO!

Actually, I very much agree.
Any problems in the Senate just whisper HCR...2012.

Besides the House controls the money. Still I'm concerned about judges, tsars and a treaty or two.

Also, I am very curious: why bite your tongue?

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree completely. This puts all the burden back on Obama instead of the Republicans who would have been struggling in the Senate.

And hopefully, by the time 2012 rolls around, we'll have more conservatives in the Senate and maybe more RINOs will leave... now that the club is not as clubby anymore?

Unknown said...

Andrew: After suffering the agony of defeat here with the Boxer win, I am smacking my lips at the 2012 election when the befuddled and dotty Dianne Feinstein comes up for re-election. I'll get a two-fer. A Republican President and a Republican Senator.

AndrewPrice said...

Ponderosa, You've put your finger on the real problem from a conservative perspective with divided government: it shifts a lot of power to the President to act through regulators because it's hard for the Congress to stop him.

And the courts will always remain a problem until we get a solid decade of Republican congresses and Presidents. Fortunately, the current Supreme Court is willing to overturn lower courts when they overreach.

Why not speak on this before? I didn't want to discourage people from turning out for the Republicans or kill the election spirit.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I hope that one goes better than the Boxer election, which I still don't understand. She seems too liberal even for California?

Of course, after Moonbeam gets done, California may be yearning for a new Reagan!

Unknown said...

Andrew: Let's not forget that after Jerry Brown the last time, we got two two-term Republican governors in a row. The electorate then went soft, and elected Brown's top lieutenant Grey Davis as governor. He was so bad that we had to recall him and the ensuing confusion was so bad that we elected pseudo-Republican Schwarzenegger.

I'm not sure that California deserves another Reagan, or if we even have one in reserve. But for the time being, the crazed California electorate deserves Brown. If Brown runs for a second term, he'll have to do it from the old folks home. He makes me feel downright youthful.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I wasn't going to say anything, but yeah... any state that would vote for Jerry Brown a second time deserves him. I just hope you and the other people out in East-California don't suffer too much.

I think California is one of those pendulum states that swings wildly. Hopefully, this is as far left as you guys get and now the swing back happens. But I wouldn't hold my breath?

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

Hawk, Andrew: Surely uber-RINO Schwarzenegger gets some credit for CA's new uber-liberal governor. Just think if we'd elected McCain for president. The whole country would have been facing a similar disaster. Scary. McCain would've reached across the aisle, and we'd have half if not more of the same crap that Obama gave us, and Republicans would be getting all the blame for it.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent analysis Andrew and I concur! I've been reading y'alls outstanding posts but haven't had time to comment until now.

"Whereas Clinton lacked principles and only wanted to be loved, Obama thinks he is entitled to being seen as a genius and he has shown no flexibility in his personality or in his political career. Thus, barring something we haven’t seen, he lacks the personality traits that will let him make this kind of shift."

Speaking a bit more on personality, Clinton and Obama are malignant narcissists, however, Clinton had more political experience, having been a governor, and he was far more prone to compromise than Obama is, knowing he coul take credit for all the GOP efforts and get reelected.

Obama has (and had) no real experience, politically or executively. He has also surrounded himself with extreme marxists and anti-Americans, anti-military, anti-liberty scumbags his entire life.

It's obvious he has absorbed and integrated the destructive ideas of the likes of Wright, Alinsky, amd many more prominent leftist extremist wackos and has applied that hellish blueprint to his domestic and foreign policies.

He can no longer hide or suppress what he really is. It would be too kind too call him a neo-commie because if given the opportunity he would govern farther left than that.

Worse still, he has demonstrated he is a racist, elitist, hypocrite, liar, and so smug that he has the audacity to paint himself as a "victim" that deserves everything that has been given to him.

I have no doubt he is a true believer in socialist/marxist ideals and that they will work.
However, he is also insane, or completely ignorant of history (or both) to believe that those destructive ideas will ever help anyone other than himself and his politburo-elitist, America-hating pals (ie he is in deep denial, projectionist mode).

In short, Obama is a psychopath, or, if you prefer the pc term: a sociopath. So is his wife and friends.

You are right, Andrew, he cannot change his goals (nor provide real hope).

I predict he will get increasingly angry and frustrated. He will also continue to blame everyone else for his failures and basically throw a tantrum of epic proportions as his dreams to transform America into a totalitarian "paradise" turns to dust.

We have seen flashes of his childish anger before, more recently during his interview with Jon Stewart.
Expect to see more of that kind of behavior as he slowly realizes his power is quickly diminishing, and he will direct that hate towards the GOP, Tea Party, and us bitter clingers. :^)

It's gonna get ugly (uglier), and Obama will attempt to bypass Congress with all his Czars (with help from most of his leftist media) to get what he wants (destroy America).

We must keep letting our representatives know that we want them top fight Obama's cancerous agenda tooth n' nail with extreme prejudice!
Prejudice towards his anti-liberty, commie plans.

And we must all do our best to communicate the truth of what Obama really is and what he and his comrades are really doing and not let up.
The more flustered he gets the more he reveals his true self, and man, talk about ugly...worse than a rabid animal.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Um...sorry about the long comment. I reckon I just got carried away.

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, That's actually something several of us talked about after the election. While it stunk to have Obama, it was probably a good thing because McCain would have signed everything Obama signed and then our party would be on the hook for all of that!

That would have been the end of the Republican party for sure.

AndrewPrice said...

USS Benn, No problem on the long comments. Thanks for commenting and thanks for visiting!

On your points....

I agree with your diagnosis of Obama and of Clinton. I think Obama was one of those kids who no one said "no" to... ever. I think all the way through law school, people passed him along without a hint of criticism, and it's made him narcissistic.

And I don't think he has any true ideological underpinnings, I think he sees the world in very simplistic terms -- everyone I don't like is rich and bad and oppressive, and they should be oppressed in retaliation. That fits his behavior in all sorts of ways, everything from his attacking our allies in foreign policy to his use of the word "enemies" about the American public.... which really pisses me off.

And the thing about narcissists is that they think they are right and the rest of the world is wrong, so they are incapable of change. And since he's surrounded himself by people who play into his narcissism, nothing will change.

I also think you're absolutely right that he will get increasingly angry -- we've seen that already whenever he's encountered resistance. He will blame others for everything and he will start to use sharper and nastier rhetoric and I fully expect to see him blow up at some point.

And you're right that the next step will be to simply try to bypass Congress -- he's tried that a lot already and I expect he will try it a lot more now. We need to watch the country's back for the next two years, and hope the American people see and remember what we all see at the moment.

Unknown said...

Ben and Andrew: I only see one flaw in your analyses. Clinton and Obama are both narcissistic. But Clinton can bend because he needs to be loved, and will do anything to gain that love, including compromising everything he says he stands for if necessary. Obama is of the more malignant type. He has no need for others to love him because he is so much in love with himself that he assumes others will love him just as much once they see how beautiful he really is. The former can bend, the latter cannot.

Clinton's narcissism is other-fueled. He is beautiful because people love him. Obama's is inner-fueled. He is beautiful, and if he waits long enough and adheres to his inner beauty, all others will eventually see it.

And now you know the danger of having been married to a psychologist.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Excellent addition! I agree completely with that. Clinton needs others to love him, Obama expects other to love him. And therein, strangely, lies the reason for Clinton's success as a politician and Obama's failure.

StanH said...

Machiavelli would be pleased with your analysis Andrew. Indeed sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. When I realized that the republicans were not going to take the senate that occurred to me as well. 51 senators is a political majority not a ruling majority of 60 plus. And now Barry can’t run against the do nothing congress like Truman in ’48 or Clinton ’96.

And though Barry may not realize, or care, but the earth moved politically on Tuesday. Eighteen state legislatures flipped from democrat to Republican, we have thirty governors (maybe thirty-one CT), sixty-five new congressmen (average 20), six flipped D to R senators(average for an off year election 3.5), umpteen liberal judges gone, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You mix that in with VA, NJ, Mass and slowly but surely this country is swinging back hard right (my sympathies to Lawhawk and Bev).

I too agree with the sentiments upthread. As Barry’s world begins to shrink, I look for that seething temper to reveal itself. At first overtly and publically. However as he comes to understand nobody gives a shit, I picture him under “The Resolution Desk” sucking his thumb, clutching his bankey.

We must find a strong conservative flag bearer for 2012, who will be our Reagan.

Unknown said...

Stan: In keeping with my comments yesterday about not looking like the old white man's party or aging policy wonks, how's this for a ticket: Jindal/Rubio. Two brilliant, young, experienced, and capable statesmen and debaters. Now tell us which party doesn't welcome minorities. Of course it's just a dream right now, and so much remains to be seen over the course of the next year. But stranger things have happened. Jindal would wipe the policy debate floor with Obama, and the only thing that could cost Rubio a debate with Biden is if Rubio got so tickled by Biden's stupidity that he couldn't stop laughing long enough to make a point.

StanH said...

I like it Lawhawk! We really do have some great up-and-comers, I’m excited.

Along with Rubio, we will all point and laugh at the B-B-B-Biden! .

T_Rav said...

LawHawk, a Jindal/Rubio ticket would be awesome, although I would personally prefer to see Rubio spend a bit more time in the Senate and get seasoned on the national level first. But these are desperate times, and...well, you can take it from there.

By the way, here's my list of people I do NOT want to see on the ticket (at least at the top) in '12: Romney, Huckabee, anyone else who was a serious contender in '08, and Pawlenty. I'm probably leaving a couple off but I'll fill them in later. And before you ask, I'm ambivalent about Palin.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I love the image of Obama hiding under his desk sucking his thumb! LOL!

And I totally agree that he's going to get nastier and nastier as the pressure builds. We've already seen hints of that over and over in his public appearances, his speeches.... the greater the pressure on him, the angrier he gets.

I think, as you say, that there are two different aspects to this election. One the one hand, we have the Senate, where a simple majority is not a governing majority, so it's better (in this case) to not have the responsibility for governing.

On the other hand, this year was the beginning of something huge! This election cycle destroyed liberals and establishment types every where in the country, at every level, except in the bluest of blue corners. And you can still feel the tension bubbling everywhere (and the Democrats are only making it worse), so look for that tension to erupt into a geyser in 2012, that gives us the Senate, the White House, and even more of everything we just got. That could be one of those historic moments where the country permanently changes direction.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk and T_Rav, I honestly don't know enough yet about Rubio to know what kind of president he would make. Frankly, I'm just happy that the list of possible candidates keeps growing. Compare that to what we were looking at two years ago and you see a huge difference -- younger, smarter, more conservative, with better experience. That's what makes America so great.... it renews itself.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I think you make a solid point, even though it still bothers me that several seats which should have gone our way didn't (I'm looking at you, CA, CO, and WV).

As I see it, this means two things: one, the House Republicans need to get on the ball with a conservative agenda, passing the right legislation and putting the right people in the most important positions. Despite the cynicism I share with you about the firmness of certain GOP leaders (cough-cough, Eric Cantor, cough-cough), so far they seem to be hitting on all cylinders, rhetoric-wise. We'll see if it holds up.

Two: We need to start preparing the field for 2012 now. Find primary challengers to some of the GOP Senate (Corker, Lugar, maybe Hatch) and start preparing solid opponents to the Dems in red or purple states--McCaskill in my MO (arrghhh!!!), Webb in VA, Nelson in NE, and others.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, We try to avoid endorsing to un-endorsing people because we don't want anyone to feel that we might shade the truth to help one candidate or another, but I can tell you that I have little interest in the people on your list.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Thanks! And I agree completely. I think we should have gotten a few more seats and it disappoints me that we didn't. It also disturbs me a bit because I'm wondering what it's going to take to win some of these states? Seriously, if this wasn't the right environment to toss out the Democrats, what will be?

I also am very pleased with what I'm seeing from the leadership so far. They SEEM to have gotten it. Sadly, I've been burned so many times before by the Republicans that I will withhold my trust until I see them follow through, but I am pleased with much of what I've heard coming out of them.

In terms of the people you list, I'm hoping some of the last few RINOs decide to retire now that politics has become less "gentlemanly."

T_Rav said...

Okay, fair point. Memo to anyone who's reading: That was my personal list--and in McCaskill's case I do mean PERSONAL--and no one else's.

Joel Farnham said...


I just heard that Pelosi is going to try for the minority leader position in the Democrat house. It looks like she isn't going away.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, That makes me very, very happy! She is poison, so let's keep her in charge of the Democrats! :-)

Joel Farnham said...


Now it is doubly important that the Republicans in the House don't succumb to the wiles of Washington, DC.

Also, it is imperative that we organize poll watchers. The possibility that elections are being stolen outright is very real.

The other part is GOTV efforts. Whether you like your particular candidate or not, is not a reason to not GOTV.

RNC, NRCC and NRSC must change to the Tea Party realities or they risk oblivion.

Joel Farnham said...


Also, one more reason that it is good the Republicans aren't a Majority in the Senate. Impeachment.

Impeachment starts in the House, but gets tried in the Senate. The Democrat Senators are not going to impeach Obama no matter how much he deserves it. For impeachment to really work, it must have almost all if not all the Senators on board. Impeachment talk will just be that. Talk.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I am a firm believer in getting out the vote. The primaries about intra-party struggles, but once you have the candidate it is your obligation as a part person to support them. Otherwise, what's the point in having a party at all?

And I agree about poll watchers. It's time that we put an end to election fraud in this country... then we'll see how the Democrats do.

I also agree about the Tea Party v. the Establishment: change or be replaced.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Good point. I would hate to see our side squander the good will they have with a pointless impeachment effort that can't succeed and makes us look like petty tyrants. Save impeachment for really significant crimes, and use the smaller stuff as a political club.

patti said...

brother, we have had this conversation already and you know i agree. one big brain strikes again!

AndrewPrice said...

Absolutely Patti -- one brain... and libby crime fighter capes!

Ed said...

Great thinking. This makes me much happier about not winning the Senate.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed.

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