The wages of insulting the south

“When we hear that old saw about how local issues prevailed on Election Day, you can be sure of one thing: Republicans won.” So says Fred Barnes regarding yesterday’s elections. Barnes finds collective significance in state-wide Republican victories in a liberal west coast state, a moderate border state, and a conservative deep south state. He concludes, “The three wins may not constitute a national trend, but they certainly make Republicans feel a lot better about 2004 than Democrats do.”
I’d like to make one more point about the Mississippi result. I understand that the Republicans made an issue of Senate Democratic opposition to the nomination of Mississsippi’s Charles Pickering for U.S. court of appeals judge. The relevance of the issue to the state’s gubernatorial race is marginal at best. If the issue played at all in this setting, then it will certainly play in Senate races in the south. After all, it is the Senate that is blocking Pickering and others. And, as luck would have it, four Democratic Senators from the south are retiring next year (a fifth, Sen. Breaux from Louisiana may also retire).
As Rocket Man has said, the Democrats have been pretty confident that they will not have to pay a political price for blocking conservative nominees. They calculated, correctly I think, that their tactics would have no impact on the presidential election. It was also reasonable for them to think that the prospects of Senate candidates like Edwards and Graham would not be significantly affected. But with the retirement of these two and others, the south has unexpectedly become the key Senate battleground in 2004, and the Democrats are exposed. For example, in taking the position that the popularly elected Attorney General of Alabama (William Pryor) is not qualified, by virtue of his views, to serve as a federal appellate judge, the Senate Democrats insult the voters of Alabama and, by extension, the entire region.
The Party should be preparing the appropriate campaign ads as I write this.

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