A new age doesn’t begin

The decisive victory won by Saxby Chambliss over Jim Martin yesterday in the Georgia Senate runoff is reassuring in several respects. A contrary result would have carried a disproportionately large negative impact. It would have added further weight to the notion that some fundamental shift occurred on November 4. It would have added to the demoralization felt by Republicans licking their wounds following the results on November 4. It would have brought Democrats to within shouting distance of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

We noted over the weekend that Barack Obama chose not to invest his political capital in the outcome of the race. He declined to appear on behalf of Martin. He must have concluded that Martin’s victory in the runoff was a long shot and preferred to bask in the afterglow of his own victory in the presidential election.

Given the closeness of the Georgia Senate vote on November 4, the magnitude of Chambliss’s margin over Martin is suprising. So far as I know, no one predicted it. In the event, the Republican base proved more motivated than the Democratic base. That has to be encouraging for Republicans.

Although Obama chose not to appear personally in Georgia on behalf of Martin, other Democratic stars including Bill Clinton and Al Gore did. Surely Jimmy Carter would have appeared like a ghoul from the tomb to claim some kind of vindication if Martin had pulled out the runoff, but it is sufficient unto the day that the result provided no reward for Al Gore’s perennial contribution to global warming.

We can also enjoy the fact that Chambliss brought in Governors Palin and Romney among others on his behalf. Governor Palin in particular proved an effective draw on the last day of the runoff campaign.

A contrary outcome would in addition have magnified the stakes in the result of the Minnesota Senate race. We would prefer to resolve the recount and related issues ourselves without the intervention of forces that were more likely to be brought to bear in the event that the Democrats’ sixtieth Senate vote hung in the balance.

Democrats would also have taken special relish in Chambliss’s defeat. Democrats still harbor their special brand of bitterness over Chambliss’s defeat of Max Cleland in 2002. Kathryn Lopez addresses it in a good column that reminds us what it’s all about. The AP speaks for the Democrats:

Chambliss came to the Senate in 2002 after defeating Democratic Sen. Max Cleland in a campaign that infuriated Democrats. Chambliss ran a TV ad that questioned Cleland’s commitment to national security and flashed a photo of Osama bin Laden. Cleland is a triple amputee wounded in the Vietnam War.

Outside the Democratic Party, I believe this chain of propositions is subsumed under the rubric of non sequitur. Conservatives, Republicans and fans of logic can at the least breathe a sigh of relief over the outcome in Georgia yesterday.

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