Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't count the Republicans Out


Don't Count the Republicans Out

By Molly Ivins
October 19, 2006,Truthdig

Stunning coincidence. The verdict in the long-running trial of
Saddam Hussein in Iraq is now due two days before our
congressional elections in November. Astounding. How
ineffable.

Sometimes you know the Republicans have just lost the rag
completely. This week, Dick Cheney said to Rush Limbaugh
regarding the Iraqi government, 'If you look at the general,
overall situation, they're doing remarkably well.' The vice
president also acknowledged there's some concern because the
war wasn't over 'instantaneously.' We have now been in Iraq
just one month shy of the entire time it took us to fight
World War II. Seventy Americans dead so far in October.
Electricity in Iraq this year hit its lowest levels since the
war started.

What infuriates me about this is the lying. WHY can't they
level with us? Just on the general, overall situation.

Put me in the depressive Dems camp. We always look good going
into the last two weeks, until we get hit with that wall of
Republican money (though I do think Ohio is beyond political
recall at this point for the R's). Of course, both sides
always complain about unfair advertising, but I must admit
that almost all political advertising strikes me as ludicrous
and I don't notice the D's looking simon-pure. A little
shading, a little emphasis here and there-I'm hard to shock on
political ads, but I do get more than miffed when they take
the truth and just stand it on its head.

For example, if ever there has been a friend to Social
Security it would be Rep. Chet Edwards from Waco, Texas, a D
loyal to the FDR, LBJ and government-exists-to-serve-the-
people tradition. So what are the R's attacking him on? Not
supporting Social Security. All this kind of thing does is
render political debate completely meaningless.

The argument now is that D's have a seven-point structural
deficit going into any election. I see the problem, I just
have no idea what the actual numbers are.

Let's start with the easy end, the Senate. From the book 'Off
Center' by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, as recently
quoted by Eric Alterman in his blog: 'The mismatch between
popular votes and electoral outcomes is even more striking in
the Senate. Combining the last three Senate elections,
Democrats have actually won 2.5 million more votes than
Republicans. Yet now they hold only 44 seats in that 100-
person chamber because Republicans dominate the less populous
states that are so heavily overrepresented in the Senate. As
journalist Hendrik Hertzberg (of the New Yorker) notes, if you
treat each senator as representing half that state's
population, then the Senate's 55 Republicans currently
represent 131 million people, while the 44 Democrats represent
161 million people.'

OK, we all know about the small-state advantage in the Senate.
How did the People's House get so far out of fair? Paul
Krugman explains: 'The key point is that African-Americans,
who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, are highly concentrated in
a few districts. This means that in close elections many
Democratic votes are, as political analysts say, wasted-they
simply add to huge majorities in a small number of districts,
while the more widely spread Republican vote allows the GOP to
win by narrower margins in a larger number of districts.'

I should also point out that Democrats used to pack minority
voters into the same districts when they drew the
redistricting lines because of simple racism. Minority
candidates need more votes to win, as polling consistently
shows them several points ahead of where they actually finish
because some people still cannot bring themselves to vote for
black politicians even if they agree with them.

For instance, race is a factor this year in Harold Ford's
Tennessee Senate contest-even though political people keep
pretending it's not.

I'm the one who has been writing for two years that the
American people are fed up with the war in Iraq and with the
Bush administration's lies and incompetence. I'm the one that
keeps beating the Washington press corps about the head over
how out of touch it is. I'm the one who has been insisting
there's a Democratic tide out here, and that the people are so
far ahead of the politicians and the media it's painful to
watch.

So how come I'm not thrilled? Because I watched this happen
two years ago-same rejection of the Iraq war, same disgust
with Bush and Co., same understanding Republicans are for the
rich, period, same polls showing D's with the lead going right
into Election Day. And the same geographic gerrymander and
same wall of money in the last two weeks. I'm not close to
calling this election, and I'm sure not into celebrating
anything yet.

(c) 2006 Creators Syndicate
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