My co-worker told me that Rush Limbaugh (who I never listen to) read Hugh Hewitt's Townhall column from yesterday assessing the election. So I read Hugh's column, and he nails down the issues pretty well: The Democrats didn't win. The Republicans lost.
The post-mortems are accumulating, but I think the obvious has to be stated: John McCain and his colleagues in the Gang of 14 cost the GOP its Senate majority while the conduct of a handful of corrupt House members gave that body's leadership the Democrats.
As cooler heads sort through the returns, they will see not a Democratic wave but a long series of bitter fights most of which were lost by very thin margins, the sort of margin that could have been overcome had there been greater purpose and energy arrayed on the GOP's side. The country did not fundamentally change from 2004, but the Republicans had to defend very difficult terrain in very adverse circumstances. Step by step over the past two years the GOP painted themselves into a corner from which there was no escape. Congressional leadership time and time again took the easy way out and declared truces with Democrats over issues, which ought not to have been compromised. The easy way led to Tuesday's result.
Hugh goes over three events that he says contributed to the conservatives' disgust with the GOP leadership, though I'm not sure one of them (the lack of naming the New York Times in the House resolution condemning the NSA surveillance leaks) really even reached the general population.
The Republican Party raised the money and staffed the campaigns that had yielded a 55-45 seat majority, and the Republican Party expected the 55 to act like a majority. Confronted with obstruction, the Republicans first fretted and then caved on issue after issue. Had the 55 at least been seen to be trying --hard, and not in a senatorial kind of way-- Tuesday would have had a much different result. Independents, especially, might have seen why the majority mattered.
But the majority is not going to return unless the new minority leadership --however it is composed-- resolves to persuade the public, and to be firm in its convictions, not concerned for the praise of the Beltway-Manhattan media machine.
He's exactly right. But given this explanation, especially his criticism of John McCain, I'm not optimistic that the new Republican leadership will step up. After all, John McCain is still in the Senate, and he's not going to give up his media-favorite "Maverick" role without a fight.