The Election in Perspective

by on November 6th, 2006

There are those whose skepticism of polling is so deep that they dismiss them out of hand and their agnosticism encourages them to simply wait until the results of tomorrow’s election are final. Others, such as Dick Morris, handicap a variety of polls and make summary judgments, in this case that the Republicans are in for blood bath. Readers will recall, however, that Mr. Morris’ prognostications are less reliable than his strategic prowess.

He believes that President Bush’s focus on Iraq as a justification to the voters for retaining Republican control was misguided. Instead he recommends that the president should have used North Korea and the successful defense of the homeland as evidence of the party’s leadership strength.

From there he takes us on a tour of the Republican scandals as well as the more credible argument that Congressional conservatives have lost their ideological principles and have become intellectually indolent. The evidence is persuasive that many Republicans, the president included, have been guilty of moving towards the Democrats in terms of spending but also with respect to immigration and a host of other issues.

Many Republicans fear–not unjustifiably–that the electorate itself has become less staunchly conservative and that although the Democrats have been utter failures in terms of advancing a coherent set of policy alternatives, the nation is simply weary of Republican rule, beginning with Iraq.

But all of this could have been avoided had the Republicans in general and conservatives in particular been savvier in the build up to the election. Scandals happen but it is difficult to gauge their impact on elections. What is easier to divine is whether the electorate is showing signs of fatigue with a current administration and ruling party, and the symptoms have been in evidence for some time. In a feat rarely achieved the Republicans have angered and disappointed many in their base as well as moderates across the spectrum.

What Mr. Morris and his doom-sayers fail to recognize is that the modern American sensibility is genetically programed to recoil from any war that is not antiseptic and over in a time period measured in days or weeks. Although the long shadow of Vietnam is easily reanimated in the nation’s phyche by any hint of military setbacks, we’re suffering from a deeper malaise which can charitably be called a lack of collective maturity.

Whether it’s problems in Social Security, health care, the economy, the war in Iraq, or the broader war against the Islamic jihadists, facing unpleasant realities is not this generation’s forte. Indeed, its most prominent features are risk avoidance and a corollary disdain of confrontation. Is there any chance that the likes of the Islamofascists don’t understand this? Of course not, because their strategy to wear us down politically is at once transparent and achieving traction.

The unadultlike way in which many Americans judge the war in Iraq, not to mention the war against the jihadists is just another example of their unserious approach to life’s most daunting challenges. The relatively pain-free life this generation leads has provided a paucity of lessons and since it’s also not known for its deep reading and analysis of history, it can be likened to a kind of Mayfly existence, brief and profoundly uninformed.

That stated, the trends and momentum in the past two weeks of polling data indicate that Republican losses may not be as brutal as seemed to be the case just a month ago. Rush Limbaugh’s interview today with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was an adrenaline shot that Republicans desperately needed. Mr. Snow is positively exuberant about Republicans’ chances tomorrow citing the recent momentum gained in key races in both the Senate and House.

We can only pray he’s right.

Mella is Founder and Editor of

Philip Mella