Scylla and Charybdis

Glenn Reynolds is asking why the Republicans deserve to keep the House, and he isn’t finding any good answers. To be honest, the only saving grace of the House GOP is that the Democrats are orders of magnitude worse.

Unfortunately for the Republicans (and indeed the country at large), that’s probably not going to be enough.

Reynolds is right, the GOP has been playing down its moral and political capital for years now. Hastert’s idiotic defense of disgraced Rep. William Jefferson was just one sign of a House culture that has become entirely too self-obsessed for its own good. The Foley mess only confirms what most Americans already know: our Congressional leadership is utterly and completely inadequate. In a time of war, our political chattering classes are more interested in fratricide than anything else. The Democrats are foaming at the mouth, and the Republicans are drooling on their shoes, and the nation is rightly getting sick of both. No wonder Congress has the sort of approval ratings usually associated with hangnails and bubonic plague.

Hopefully this nearly-inevitable loss will awaken the Republicans to the abandonment of their principles that led them here. Then again, our political class seems utterly insulated from reality — on both parties. The Democrats are hoping that this will be like 1994 was — except the problem is that now the idea of “throwing the bums out” is less attractive when it would just be replacing them with another set of bums.

There’s an old adage that says that we get the politics we deserve. God help us.

14 thoughts on “Scylla and Charybdis

  1. “To be honest, the only saving grace of the House GOP is that the Democrats are orders of magnitude worse.”

    Oh, come the fuck on. I realize that’s what passes for unchallengable wisdom in the echo chambers of the right, but what support, exactly, do you have for that? Republicans have expanded spending far more than Democrats ever have. Republicans inherited a booming economy and presided over its complete reversal.

    The Republican plan for Afghanistan according to Bill Frist is to turn it back over to the Taliban that all those Americans died fighting. The Republican cut and run plan for Iraq has left it in the middle of a sectarian war. Bush’s new plan to “fight terrorists”, where “terrorist” means “anybody Bush thinks is a terrorist”, suspends human rights enshrined in our legal codes since the 1200’s. Jesus Christ, Dick Cheney is having his critics arrested!

    Seriously, convince me. Exactly what could be worse under Democrats?

  2. They would be worse for one simple reason: whereas Bush et al may be trying to win the War and are having a hard time of it, the Democratic Party simply wouldn’t try. And that’s enough….

  3. “They would be worse for one simple reason: whereas Bush et al may be trying to win the War and are having a hard time of it, the Democratic Party simply wouldn’t try.”

    I’ve seen no indication that would be the case. The Democrats have given Bush every legal tool he’s ever asked for in the war on terror, and they’ve offered plan after plan to deal with the terrorist threat in way that has been proven to be effective. The war in Iraq didn’t expose the London airplane plot; old-fashioned police powers and human intelligence techniques did. All torture and the military did was ruin the investigation with false reports of an immediate threat.

    Nobody can deny that terrorism represents a threat to American lives after 9/11. That the Democrats have a different strategy for fighting the war on terror only indicates that they have no strategy in the topsy-turvy world of the Bust Cult Koolaid drinkers.

  4. So Jay, what’s your insider take on those South Dakota Legislature races? Particularly the Sioux Falls area races where abortion ban advocates beat incumbents in the Republican primaries and are now in open seats? Will South Dakota voters, the majority of whom oppose the draconian abortion ban that their lawmakers approved, vote for ban supporters simply because they have an (R) next to their name, or are the Democrats poised to make some serious gains this year in the South Dakota statehouse?

  5. Jay–
    Either way, you do have to admit that the way the Republicans and the Republican wind machine is acting about Foley is pretty shameless. Fox and two conservative newspapers have called Foley a Democrat. Hannity and several others have said that Clinton had an affiar with a teenage intern–clearly not true. The attempt to just throw mud around about everything and blatantly lie as a way to keep from admitting that not only did a Republican solicit underage males but there is a possibility other Republicans knew about it and kept a lid on it.


  6. So Jay, what’s your insider take on those South Dakota Legislature races?

    To be honest, I don’t live there anymore, and I didn’t follow local politics all that much. My sense is that South Dakota will do what South Dakota always has done, which is be a Republican stronghold. I don’t think there’s enough ire over the abortion ban to spill over into legislative races, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets defeated by a very narrow margin.

    For the record, since I no longer live there, I can say this: I hope Jack Billion wins. He won’t, but Mike Rounds is a dullard, if an affable one. South Dakota is an example of why continuous one-party rule at nearly every level of state governance is a bad thing.

  7. Mark,

    I’m a lurker who *does* still live in South Dakota.

    I think that the Democrats will make marginal gains in the Legislature, primarily from the central city Sioux Falls districts. Candidates like Sandy Jerstad (community volunteer, retired coach, teacher and widow of a prominent Lutheran minister), Scott Heidepriem and Rebekah Cradduck (former Republican legislators who changed parties), and Suzy Blake (a community activist who was so outraged by the way pro-choice citizens were treated while they lobbied the Leg. in February that she took out petitions) will (hopefully) win their races. There are a few other races that could probably go Dem (Nancy Turbak in Watertown, maybe one or two of the Rapid City races, for example), but not enough to make much of a dent in the huge GOP majorities in both houses.

    Win or lose, it has been interesting to see some of these Republican legislators running scared for the first time in their political careers. It turns a lot of them nasty. Sandy Jerstad’s opponent has been going around Sioux Falls and Tea threatening people who have Jerstad signs in their lawns and at their businesses. Phyllis Heineman is talking about something other than abortion for the first time in her life in her race against Suzy Blake. It’s amazing.

  8. AC, thanks for the rundown. I’m not overly familiar with South Dakota state politics, but I had heard a bunch of moderate Republicans were defeated in the primary and was curious as to whether the GOP’s long-standing domination in the state was on the verge of a setback.

  9. AC and Mark–
    I still pay attention quite a bit and talk to people in South Dakota about the races. I would say that the Dems will pick up enough to stop the Republican supermajority in the Senate, meaning the Senate GOP will at least have a speed bump to some of this wackiness. Plus, if the Dems pick up a few seats in this election, it means we are within striking distance of actually taking the senate in 2008. The House is more of a long-term project. However, the Democrats are holding pressers and fundraisers and actively knocking doors and taking the GOP to task in many districts this year–the first time in years this has happened. The change we want won’t happen overnight, but we’re laying the groundwork.

    It stinks because I think the Dems could go on attack on abortion. Make it a smaller government thing. And polls will tell you that even in South Dakota, most people prefer exceptions for rape and incest. An aggressive, libertarian-themed campaign by the Campaign for Healthy Families could pick up a lot of votes, but I don’t see it materializing. Instead, this will be close enough that the margin will be much closer than it should be and the righties will be in good position in 2007 to pass a ban that has exceptions on it–which after this bill will look moderate and people will go for it.

  10. Also, Mark, the moderate Republicans who were challenged by the conservative Republicans lost every single primary (nine of them) with the state party being fully invested in the conservatives in nearly every single one.

  11. The Republicans have had decades upon decades to control the Leg, and most importantly, gerrymander the heck out of Legislative districts, ensuring that pretty much every district in the state has a huge Repubican voter advantage. Almost every Democrat running for Leg faces that.

  12. AC–
    If the Dems were smart they’d bring a bill to the leg to change the way districts are drawn to a bi-partisan commission and then nail the hell out of the Republicans who don’t like fair elections.

  13. I have to admit, the Campaign for Healthy Families has been really disappointing to me. I was pretty confident that the No side would win fairly big, but I am getting a little freaked out by all the Vote Yes on 6 signs I’m seeing in Sioux Falls.

    I guess it’s a good thing signs can’t vote.

  14. and p.s., Seth, I hope you will be right about the Dems potentially nailing the Republicans on redrawing legislative boundaries. However, a few Democratic legislators, like my useless District 15 reps, benefit from the system too. The Dems don’t seem to have a history of challenging the Republicans on anything of substance, but maybe higher numbers of Democratic legislators will help with that.

    I just hope to God this session isn’t all about THE ABORTION and THE GAY again, though I don’t doubt that there will be a ban introduced including rape and incest exceptions. I may have to be locked in a padded room if I have to hear Hal Wick talking about either of these issues ever again.

    I wonder how effective it would be to attempt another ban, though. The Vote Yes side sounds almost more pro-choice than Planned Parenthood these days. As much as I hate to say it, many of the same legislators who were so adamant in January about no exceptions in the ban will probably be back in Pierre this winter, and it would be interesting to hear their reasoning behind allowing a rape/incest/health exception this time around. I would hope that anti-ban folks would point out the inconsistency there.

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