Way to Go Joe!
The Election Aftermath and Lieberman's Role
This is not to say every Republican who lost deserved it. We were especially sad to see Rick Santorum and Michael Steele go down to defeat. But as a party, the Republicans needed to lose sometime. And better this year than in 2004, when it would have meant President Kerry--a prospect that even the most diehard Bush-hater knows in his heart would have been catastrophic.
It was not a referendum on Iraq. One of the most pro-Iraq lawmakers in Congress, Sen. Joe Lieberman, ran as an independent and trounced anti-Iraq Democratic nominee Ned Lamont. Meanwhile, of the five remaining Republican members of Congress who voted against Iraq's liberation, three lost: Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Rep. John Hostettler (Ind.) and Rep. Jim Leach (Iowa). Only two anti-Iraq Republicans will return to the 110th Congress: Reps. Jimmy Duncan (Tenn.) and Ron Paul (Texas).
The Associated Press reports that while "three-fourths of voters said corruption and scandal were important to their votes, . . . Iraq was important for just two-thirds."
It was not a victory for the left. Lieberman's victory over Lamont should be sufficient to establish this, but also, as we noted last week, the Democrats nominated many moderates for Congress, including Heath Shuler in North Carolina and Bob Casey and Chris Carney in Pennsylvania. (Carney, who beat Rep. Don Sherwood, got an endorsement from Richard Perle at a cocktail party we attended last month.)
In 1994 Republicans won Congress by nominating strong conservative candidates in districts long held by the other party. In 2006 Democrats did the same. It will be interesting to watch how Speaker Pelosi mediates between her ultraliberal committee chairman and the moderate freshmen to whom they owe their jobs.
It seems clear America is a center-right country, rather than a center-left one--though the Northeast is an exception. In fact, with Reps. Jeb Bradley and Charles Bass of New Hampshire and Nancy Johnson of Connecticut going down to defeat, and the Nutmeg State's Rob Simmons, Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut may soon be the only GOP House member in all of New England.