The drunken celebrations are over, with startled Democrats realizing that they've finally won. Now it's time to cast woozy eyes on the shimmering future ahead and the crazy campaign behind.
But a cautionary tale for celebrating Democrats: One Democrat got so happy that his night of celebrating "ended with pepper spray and handcuffs." The son of Florida Senator Bill Nelson was "involved" in a fight with 20 other people just before 3 in the morning in Orlando, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Using code words like "slurring his words," "poor balance," and "a strong smell of alcohol," the police report describes the apparently-drunk 30-year-old telling police officers, "No â€” you need to leave!"
"In the moments that followed, the police officer grabbed one of Bill Jr.'s arms and forced him onto the sidewalk in what's commonly called a 'face plant,'" the paper reports.
WHO WE ELECTED
This cycle saw Americans elect their first Muslim Congressman, and a bunch of openly gay people. Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female speaker of the House, prompting blogger Bob Harris to dream, "Someday, we may even elect a gay Muslim black woman to something. I want to see this, just to watch Sean Hannity's forehead burst open and his demons scatter across the floor." (He then locates a female college student in Indiana who is black, Muslim, and bi-sexual.)
Amazingly, scandal-plagued Congressman Mark Foley still came within 1 point of his opponent â€” even though he'd already resigned. Foley's votes were conferred on the replacement candidate, Joe Negron â€” a Republican who had not been caught instant messaging under-aged male pages during House votes.
And remember Mark Reynolds' notorious press conference on the Foley scandal, when he surrounded himself with children to embarrass reporters out of asking any PG-13 questions. Before the press uncovered Foley's antics, Reynolds had already received Foley's emails, discussed them with House Speaker Hastert, and even received suspicious campaign contributions from Foley himself. Tuesday he was re-elected.
Then there's the case of Nevada governor candidate Jim Gibbons. Though he's tough on immigration, years ago he'd also hid an illegal immigrant maid in his basement. He was still elected Governor Tuesday â€” but an investigation is ongoing into allegations he attacked a cocktail waitress in a Vegas parking garage.
"Arizona's gay marriage ban seems to have been rejected by the voters," wrote Glenn Reynolds, adding, "Good for them. Too bad it's the only place where that happened." Seven of the eight states passed bans on gay marriage â€” Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. And in the midwest, Michigan banned affirmative action.
Californians voted on an initiative requiring sex offenders to wear a satellite tracking device for the rest of their lives. "This is one of the more cynical election-year moves we've seen in a while..." wrote a San Francisco alternative newspaper. "The GOP hoped that Democrats would oppose it and thus could be accused of being soft on the worst kind of criminals."
It passed with over 70% of the vote. Unfortunately, according to The Washington Post this initiative didn't last more than a few hours before it was challenged by "an unidentified sex offender," who filed a lawsuit arguing it should only apply to future sex offenders.
Where Republicans contacted 3 million voters, Democrats contacted 3.5 million, according to National Journal's Hotline â€” and Democrats also knocked on twice as many doors.
But Howard Dean also credited blogs for winning at least two House seats with their financial and political support â€” and applauded their work in uncovering campaign dirty tricks.
Or maybe when voters said they were tired of "corruption," it was just a conservative code word for Mark Foley. The AP gushed in alarm that in this election, "almost a third" of white evangelicals voted for Democrats. While it represents an increase, nearly 25% of white evangelicals have voted against the Republican in every election.
Bitch-slapped by voters, some conservatives whined that their losses meant they just hadn't been conservative enough. But Firedoglake blogger Jane Hamsher didn't want to hear that from her own party. "...this 'triumph of the centrists' meme is a Rahm Emanuel spittle-soaked fantasy. The country ran from conservatives like a bad case of crotch lice and no amount of PR spin can re-write that."
The author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South, predicted this election would be the start of a new era. "The regional realignment over the past 40 years, which slowly converted Dixiecrats into Republicans, has now entered its final stage, as voters north of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Mississippi provide a countervailing response to the southern-led Republican majority. Rust Belt Republicans will be replaced by progressive Democrats... For the first time in 52 years, the party with a minority of House seats in the South will be the majority party chamberwide."
One DailyKos diarist saw this as a new era after a hundred-year war between liberalism and conservatism. "Like two heavy weight boxers stumbling into the 15th round of a championship fight, the two great ideologies of the 20th century stumble, exhausted, tattered and weakened, into a very dynamic and challenging 21st century..."
"I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table," Nancy Pelosi announced at a news conference. Yet 75% of poll respondents chose "Start impeachment proceedings" in an unscientific online poll at the San Francisco Chronicle. RawStory even celebrated the Democrats victory by republishing Congressman Waxman's wishlist of Congressional investigations. Waxman heads the Government Reform Committee, and noted in 2004 that Congress has not fully investigated "the role of the White House in promoting misleading intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda." Other issues of concern to Waxman were detainee abuse, Cheney's role in contracts and energy regulations, and the outing of Valerie Plame.
"That's what this election is all about," a Georgetown professor told USA Today. "Subpoena power."
These giddy conversations lend new significance to old stories. Blogger Jonathan Schwarz pondered Donald Rumsfeld's departure with a passage from Bob Woodward's book. Vice President Cheney insisted that a Rumsfeld departure will be seen as hesitation. "It would give the war critics great heart and momentum, he confided to an aide, and soon they would be after him and then the president. He virtually insisted that Rumsfeld stay." And a British newspaper theorizes that the history of Rumsfeld's replacement, Robert Gates, means he's been selected to perform one clear mission. "Get American troops out of Iraq as quickly and cleanly as possible."
Meanwhile, Firedoglake blogger Jane Hamsher noted Gates' ties to the Reagan administration's Iran-Contra scandal, writing "GOP zombies go home". And Wonkette linked to a vandalized Wikipedia entry in which Roberts Gates's history was summarized as simply: "a fag."
Glenn Reynolds sees some good news for Republicans. "The economy is probably peaking, with record low unemployment, record high Dow averages, and low interest rates. If (when) things go downhill, there's somebody else to share the blame!" Rush Limbaugh actually said he'd been "carrying water" for people he didn't really believe in, and that he'd stop now. Feigning outrage, Stephen Colbert simply announced he was retiring.
The next few weeks could be interesting. In October a nonpartisan polling firm speculated that "There is a realistic possibility that if the Democrats pick up at least five Senate seats on Election Night, several current Republican Senators could switch to the Democratic side of the aisle.... Arlen Specter is shunned by the GOP leadership and White House for his views on domestic surveillance while Olympia Snowe, John Warner and Chuck Hagel are shunned for their views on Iraq."
Deep in the comments at TPM Cafe, someone whispered an interesting observation about 2008. "The Republicans have to defend 21 seats, the Democrats only 12. Considering likely retirements and state politics, I estimate at least 9 of the 'R' seats are contestable and only 2 of the Dems."
It's a sign of how much things changed in the 24 hours since Tuesday. Though Democrats were virtually shut out of the legislative process over the last four years, in just two more years Democrats could move beyond a simple majority to one that couldn't even be filibustered.
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