A few reflections after a

A few reflections after a short night of sleep. First, the Democrats seem to be drawing the wrong lesson from their defeat, bless them. The line I heard from their shills in the wee hours was that their candidates were too “accommodationist” and that they should have been more aggressively anti-Bush. How this would have helped in Georgia, New Hampshire, South Dakota, etc. is unclear. The reality is that all but one of the swing contests this year were in states that Bush carried in 2000 when he wasn’t particularly popular. The one exception is Minnesota, where the Democrats did run an aggressively anti-Bush campaign, to no avail. Second, in a sense there is less to this election than meets the eye. If the swing contests had been in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the outcome might well have been different. Note that the Democrats won the gubernatorial contests in all of these states. This is still a “50-50” nation, give or take a few. Third, if the Democrats overreact to last night by moving to the left, this will help the Republicans, at least in theory. In “50-50 nation,” it’s quite risky for the opposition party to stray far from the center. And the Democrats haven’t elected an out-and-out liberal president in my lifetime, except for Lyndon Johnson’s election under special circumstances. In practice, though, it may not matter that much who the Democrats nominate in 2004. With the Republicans in control, the election will be a referendum on President Bush. If things aren’t too rocky on the international and terrorism fronts, it will be a referendum on the economy. Still, if, like today, the economy is neither that good nor that bad in 2004, it will be to our advantage if the Democrats nominate an unabashed liberal, or Al Gore posing as an unabashed liberal.

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