All the prognosticators seem to think the Republicans will lose the House of Representatives next week, and possibly the Senate also.
I don't know, it depends on who is going, or will go, to the polls, and we'll know the answers to these questions soon enough. The more interesting questions involve why this is happening, and what comes next.
Patrick Buchanan has an interesting column today. Mr. Buchanan blames the approaching disaster on first, the ethical scandals; then, too much free trade; and, most of all, Iraq. The money quote:
Yet about the war, America remains divided and conflicted. For the roaring Republican reception to Bush's calls for "victory" testifies to another truth. While most Americans wish we had never gone in and want out, America does not want to lose the war as we lost Vietnam.Neither party knows a way to accomplish what America wants: to leave Iraq without losing the war. And the reason neither party knows how to do it is because it cannot be done. Like a patient suffering from cancer, we want an end to the "chemo" -- the awful news daily coming out of Iraq -- but we do not want the consequences.
Meanwhile, Daniel Henninger over at Wall Street Journal says Americans voting to replace a Republican congress with the Donkey Party "are about to make one of the biggest rolls of the dice in the country's history." Well, yeah, that about sums it up, doesn't it ? Voters, Mr. Henninger tells us (I think , correctly), are depressed, and want "surcease" from the diet of disaster news about Iraq:
If the Democrats win the House by a large margin, media commentary will call it a "repudiation" of the administration's policies in Iraq. . . but it's not at all clear this is the message voters want to send.A closer look at the Times Oct. 27-31 poll is revealing on this count: 55% favor sending more troops to Iraq; 51% say the U.S. "will have lost" if it pulls out now; 62% think the U.S. will have to remain in Iraq beyond two years; 59% say neither side is winning; a majority, 52%, think the U.S. is likely to succeed there. . .There is more ambiguity--and common sense--out there than imagined. Enough ambiguity that come the moment of choosing a course Tuesday, voters may give the Democrats less than they expect.. . .I think the Joe Lieberman race remains a bellwether. Sen. Lieberman's politics represented a Democratic bridge to the president's war on terror. Stampeded by their party's Web-based left, the Democratic Party elders went to Connecticut and blew up the Lieberman bridge. My reading of the electorate is that it wants that bridge rebuilt and it wants both the Democrats and George Bush on it. . .
I think Mr. Henninger is reading the tea leaves splendidly, and he's spot-on as to the public mood - in particular his analysis of the importance of Senator Lieberman and persons like him, and if the President is wise, he will bend over backwards to rebuild that bridge. Mr. Henninger thinks the public is trying to convey a desire for an end to the unending political war between "embittered Democrats" and the "presidential clique."
However, I think Mr. Buchanan is also right, and that the last thing coming out of this kind of rolling the dice on the Democrats is "surcease." I think a vote for the Democrats is in effect a vote to abandon the war: so many Democrats just want to cut and run and give up the job. Morever, Iraqis now must begin to consider a future without the Americans, and people who have sat on the fence, or have worked with the Americans are going to need to consider how best to work their passage with the putative victors.
Contrary to the desires of the public, (as distilled by Mr. Henninger), the results next week are not going to be less poltical conflict -- but a significant escalation. The government will spend the next two years completely gridlooked: embroiled in allocating blame for Iraq, in impeachment hearings (oh yeah, that's coming); and plenty of contenders for 2008 jockeying for position. Oh, note to conservatives, you'd better forget your judges for awhile. If another vacancy appears on the Supreme Court, might as well leave it for the next administration.
Meanwhile, we do have a problem or three. Immigration issues are not going to be addressed and we're hocking ourselves to the Asian banks faster than you can say Master Card. The Baby Boomers are getting ready to start cashing Social Security checks in huge batches, and nobody wants to think about how we're not going to pay for it. There's going to be plenty of embitterment to go around.
The "roll of the dice" seems very likely to produce Mr. Buchanan's "consequences" -- (brother, will it ever) -- and the consequences are going to be a great disaster for many, many people, including, before we're done, the Democrats. But more on that one another time.