I didn’t think it would happen but my Chris Coons bumper stickers don’t seem like a hopeless gesture anymore. Here are some thoughts on what happened last night:
No one to blame but himself: Mike Castle by all accounts is a decent guy, but he voted to impeach Bill Clinton during a lame duck session (but only on one charge, such a moderate!) and voted to invade another country based on lies. You can’t help feed your citizens a diet of poison for decades and then be surprised they’re sick.
They all deserve to lose: Even though the Tea Party is wrong and is supporting people who will make our problems worse, the sad fact is that, conservative, liberal, or moderate, all the incumbents have failed us. Ten percent unemployment is unacceptable, and did I mention a permanent land war in Asia?
RoseAnn Salanitri. If Christine O’Donnell can get the Senate nomination in Delaware, why not the equally absurd RoseAnn Salanitri in New Jersey? Imagine who’s going to turn out in June 2012 for the obscure Congressional primaries after months of red meat Republican Presidential campaigning. On the other hand, Chris Christie’s proxy was beaten by Sarah Palin’s proxy in Delaware, but he should have more power in his own state, and conservatives have more of a history (pro and con) here in primaries. I’ve read Salanitri’s book on physics, anyone interested?
Frank LoBiondo: I’m afraid we’ve seen the last of Frank LoBiondo’s votes with us on climate change, because the lesson is that if the national conservative movement focuses on you you’re vulnerable to even an absurd candidate. I think O’Donnell is about the quality of opponent LoBiondo drew in the primary. LoBiondo has already been running scared of the Tea Party after some initial tough talk so he already knew it. The flip side is that some Democrat should step up in 2012, because who knows what will happen in the NJ2 primary next time? Someone will have to vote to pass the budget if Republicans gain the majority and LoBiondo may have to vote with the President from time to time, even while casting right-wing nutty votes that won’t look good in a general election if someone could publicize them.
The Black Swan: This is a good analogy to how Wall Street got into us into this mess with advanced statistics. All summer, Nate Silver’s 538.com listed Republican chances of winning the Delaware Senate seat as 99%. We can now see that he underestimated an unlikely event, or rather, didn’t think about it at all. Just as Wall Street’s statistical geniuses underestimated or completely missed the possibilty that the mortgage market had become dominated by national trends and outright fraud, so too Silver underestimated the possibilty that Republican primary voters have become very ideological. On the other hand, the statistical guys also told us Derek Jeter would be much worse this year, so don’t sneer at everything, just be careful. (Why black swan? just because you’ve seen 100 white swans doesn’t mean there are no black swans.)
Menendez should act: In the spirit of being careful, I hope we see some spending from the DSCC, even if the NRCC says they’re pulling out and polls look good. At this moment, the President is a liability and nothing is safe.
Senate Reform: Bob Menendez has been silent on filibuster reform but we now know we will have a Senate with even more extreme partisan Republicans (if you don’t think O’Donnell will be in the Senate, see Utah.) Tom Coburn single-handedly blocks an enormous amount of legislation and appointments. The clubby Senate rules may have worked in a era where the parties were not ideological, and liberal Republicans were a commonly used phrase, but that era is now ancient history. The Constitution calls for a majority to pass laws and approve appointments, not 60%, and even provided for a tie-breaker vote.
Appointments: For the same reason as above, Obama should give every one of his executive branch appointees recess appointments. Let the Senate vote to reject any that are truly bad, otherwise don’t reward delay.