In response to Tuesdays election results, I have a few things to say:
I demand recounts!
Democrats stole the elections!
Democrats only won because they ran a campaign of fear!
Diebold strikes again!
Voter intimidation put the Democrats in power!
All mocking aside, I don't feel bad about the new political climate. In fact, I feel pretty good about it. This is an opportunity for both parties to redefine themselves. Republicans can wake up and Democrats can now show us the magic fixes they have claimed to have for all of the issues facing Americans, but were hesitant to share them with us.
Frankly, it's refreshing to have a post-election atmosphere where Democrats aren't bitter and hostile and conspiratorial. They seem upbeat and positive and cooperative. And I haven't sensed a lot of bitterness among Republicans. They by and large have accepted their defeats graciously and compared to Democrats post-election behavior of 2000, 2002 and 2004, Republicans have behaved almost saintly.
Soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (there! I said it) and John Conyers have both affirmed their opposition to impeachment agendas against President Bush. And with the pivotal 2008 elections already looming, I suspect that Democrats will slow down their doom-and-gloom positions on Iraq and perhaps even attempt to undo what has been my biggest problem with the party and that is their consistent refusal to get behind the war. With Democrats in charge and working with the president, they now have a visible stake in the responsibility of protecting this nation. This is their second chance since 9/11 to become a strong anti-terror party, an opportunity they blew in 2001 and 2002 and have paid for since.
The other area of concern is what they will do or try to do in regards to the tax cuts. Repealing the tax cuts has to be weighed carefully because no matter how effectively the state of the economy is downplayed today, people will remember it if the Democrats start tinkering with our taxes and the economy does any kind of serious downturn before November of 2008.
Besides those issues, I'm not too concerned about Democrat damage. It's not a good sign when the new Democrat Congress's first and foremost issue is the lame, bogus and pathetic feel-good political-speak of saving the country by raising the minimum wage, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that not all of their agendas will be this shallow and damaging.
The first casualty of the new political climate is Bush Administration rock Donald Rumsfeld. I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't see the Iraq War as the massive disaster that others do. An excellent pre-election column written by author, professor and self-proclaimed Democrat Orson Scott Card, sums up a point I've made often:
"Critics of Bush love to cite the many "mistakes" his administration has made. Most of these "mistakes" are arguable -- are they mistakes at all? -- and when you sum up the others, with any kind of rational understanding of military history, the only possible conclusion is that this is the best-run war in history, with the fewest mistakes. And most of the mistakes we've made are the kind that become clear to morning-after quarterbacks but were difficult to avoid in the fog of war."
And despite the propaganda and the vitriolic rhetoric used against him, Donald Rumsfeld has left an important and beneficial mark on our military complex. He redesigned the institution to adapt to modern warfare and the current conflicts. He did his job with solid and consistent leadership, plain-talk and a humorous style that has made him both respected and reviled.
Was his resignation a direct result of the Democrats success on Tuesday? Sure, but I think it's obvious its been planned for some time. It only makes sense that Bush, Rumsfeld and other advisor's recognized early on that if Democrats took Congress, Rumsfeld would become a liability, not to Bush, but to the war effort. He would have been target #1 of the party that took seriously the presidential aspirations of a candidate who ran on a 'Department of Peace' proposal in 2004. A fight over an embattled Secretary would have been demoralizing to the military and an unnecessary distraction from the war effort, pretty much the same reasons I am relieved to hear Pelosi (thus far) dismiss the idea of impeachment investigations against the Commander-In-Chief.
After five years, it's probably time for a fresh change for Defense. But it should be considered and recognized that Donald Rumsfeld threw himself on the incoming Democrat grenade for the greater good and our military and our country has been spared months of Democrats fighting to not sound anti-military as they count each and every setback, mistake or imperfection of the war.
In a way, Bush may have saved the Democrats already by denying them this fight. I hope so. Unlike many of my liberal counterparts, I don't relish in Democrats failing, particularly in the most important issues of our generation, namely war. I don't see the party in charge failing in these kinds of issues as good for the country (to all on the left who say it but don't display it, this is what is should mean to put country ahead of party). I want Democrats to make good decisions, I want them to do the right thing, I want them to support victory and I want to believe that they will do all of these things, even if their methods are different. As long as they come across as working toward positive wins for America, I will support them. If the John Murtha wing of the party gets its claws around this war and truly seeks to 'Vietnamize' it, this Democratic ride will be the shortest success story in US history and I'll be one leading the charge against them.
Good luck to both parties and let's defeat terror in Iraq and bring the boys home in a decisive and respectable way. Oh, and let's drop this disgraceful shell game over the minimum wage...sorry, sorry...