One-fifth of the 112th Congress is made up of new members.
That is huge.
Like the class of 1974 and the class of 1994, this new class will likely
consist of serious legislators, complete jokers, future television stars,
possible presidential candidates and maybe a felon or two.
The great thing about the House of Representatives is that it actually does
represent a wide cross section of America.
The flavor of the new class is heavily scented with Tea.
The Tea Party revolutionaries, like the revolutionaries of previous electoral
revolutions, come to Washington with complete disdain for a town that actually
becomes quite livable for nine months of the year (it is absolutely brutal here
in June, July and August).
While Sarah Palin is largely responsible for setting the welcome example that
encouraged so many Republican women to run for political office this year,
there is a downside to her role in the midterm elections, too.
The role she played in Christine O'Donnell defeating Mike Castle in Delaware
for the GOP Senate nomination, and similarly with Sharron Angle in Nevada (and
the possible/likely residual effect in Colorado and perhaps Washington state),
will make it difficult, perhaps even impossible, for Republicans to repeal
As the post-election dust settles, here is my prediction.
I believe the Republican winners have a bigger problem than the Democrats who lost.
The Democrats now realize that they must deal with the need to create jobs, and
they will. The Republicans have to deal with the Tea Party extremists, some of whom
were beaten — O'Donnell, Angle, Paladino. But the influence of the Tea Party’s successful
candidates — Rand Paul, for example — will push mainstream Republicans to take extreme
positions and continue their past recalcitrance with the more collegial Obama. Those
postures will annoy the middle-of-the-road American public. Traditional Republicans
will have to corral their Tea Party partners, and submission is not their nature.
On the David Asman show last night, Ron Paul was asked what plans he and son Rand
had for the new term. He said they had talked about entering legislation together
in the Senate and the House on the first day. Half joking, Ron Paul said his son
suggested legislation to “end the Fed.”
I think it was St. Paul or maybe Kurt Cobain who said, “There is no such thing as
a joke.” They might think of doing just that. Certainly it would not pass, but it
would set a benchmark allowing them to graph progress from now into the future.
I have a confession to make. I am a Californian by birth, a Marylander by choice,
and a conservative by reason.
While fiscal conservatives across the nation feel renewed hope that the 2010 elections
will restore sanity to our national and state budgets, and constrain the massive
overreach of government, deep down, I am kind of bummed.
During debates, interviews, stump speeches, on the trail of one of the nastiest
U.S. Senate contests I can remember in my home state of Illinois — and
that’s saying a lot — Republican Mark Kirk almost always landed a bull’s-eye
when he took aim at Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. His three-word bullet was Michael “Jaws” Giorango, a “outfit” guy to
whom Broadway Bank, when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer there, loaned millions.
If the bad guy’s name had been, say, Michael Jay Graham, Giannoulias might be
heading to Washington.
Even before Tuesday’s midterm elections, a lot of adjectives were used to
describe American voters today: frustrated, disappointed, angry, betrayed.
Looking at the results, I suggest there are two adjectives missing: fickle and
Voters are fickle, indeed. Yes, they want change. But it seems they want change
simply for the sake of change.
Like most political junkies, I was up until the wee hours of Wednesday morning
tracking Tuesday’s election results on television, on my BlackBerry and through
my Twitter feed. And, like about half of political junkies, I wasn’t too happy
with the results.
What happened in the 2010 midterm elections was historic and impressive.
Republicans, on the brink of extinction after the last two “tidal wave”
elections in 2006 and 2008, made significant gains across the country. Tuesday,
the market corrected itself. After two straight bullish election cycles for
Democrats that established the largest congressional majorities in years, a
Stephen Colbert-type nightmare bear market recouped the gains the Democrats had
made. Republican gains were mostly in conservative districts held by Democrats
but won by John McCain in 2008.
At first glance, it would seem last night was a huge victory and vindication,
of sorts, for Sarah Palin. I certainly thought so in the excitement of the
moment. Now I'm not so sure.
While I don't agree with all of Palin's positions, I've admired her tenacity
and have defended her at times because of the unfair beating she took from the
mainstream media after the 2008 presidential campaigns, and the arrogant
mishandling and trashing by establishment GOP campaign staff. She now stands on
her own, and is capable of accepting both credit and blame, criticism and
praise. In that regard, she has won.
On an MSNBC panel I joined yesterday, there was talk — yet again — of sexism in
the midterm elections. I participated with members of the media establishment
who jointly agreed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) low approval numbers
among independent voters (8 percent) are a function of sexism that continues to
I’m not going to say sexism doesn’t still exist in the political arena.
Certainly female candidates face unique challenges, and many are forced to
defend personal decisions — about marriage, relationships and children — that male
candidates do not. In fact, there’s perhaps no other place where women’s proper
role in society is scrutinized more than in the political realm.