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The morning after

As a natural pessimist I am rarely disappointed. I am nevertheless having a hard time absorbing President Obama’s reelection last night. Given Obama’s record, Obama’s reelection is a remarkable achievement.

I thought that the Republican field from which Mitt Romney emerged was a weak one and that our strength remained on the bench this time around. Even so, I can’t imagine what Republican could have prevailed against Obama yesterday. The Republican bench provides hope for the future if we can keep our heads and sort our challenges out.

It is probably hard to underestimate the effect of the months and hundreds of millions of dollars the Obama campaign devoted to defaming Romney in the battleground states before the formal commencement of the general election campaign. The Romney campaign was dead in the water when Romney took the stage to debate Obama the first time around on October 3. If Romney’s campaign achieved ignition that evening, that didn’t leave much time for a campaign, but it wasn’t too lively after October 3 either. And Hurricane Sandy weirdly proved to be something like a deux ex machina for Obama.

Yet our will to believe was strong. It was so strong that we passed on much of the bologna emanating from the Romney campaign and from conservative commentators and analysts who had what was at least a superficially reasonable case to make. Both the the political establishment and the punditry (ourselves included) should be doing some serious soul searching today. I certainly am. I want to rededicate myself to the reality principle and confront the challenge before us with open eyes.

In Minnesota we have experienced something like a comprehensive beating. Both proposed constitutional amendments (on marriage and voter identification) went down to defeat. Democrats retook control of the state legislature. With Governor Mark Dayton at the helm, Democrats are now in a position to do some serious damage to the state. Not having been in this position for a long time, they won’t squander the opportunity.

We lost at the top of the ticket, or course. We also lsot the one congressional seat (Chip Cravaack’s, in the Eighth District) that we had picked up in the mighty storm of the 2010 elections. Senator Amy Klobuchar was reelected virtually by acclamation against a pitiful opponent. The state Republican Party is broke.

On the bright side, John Kline and Michele Bachmann survived unexpectedly strong challenges. About all we can say is that it could have been a little worse. So I will say that it could have been worse, but only a little. On the national stage we hold a majority in the House of Representatives (which will now be adorned by our friend Tom Cotton) and a reduced minority in the Senate. We will have to fight like hell to make do with what we have.

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