November 9th, 2006


Thoughts on the Election

It's nice to have less wailing and gnashing of teeth on my flist after an election. Hopefully the level of civility will continue to improve. If George Allen gracefully accepts defeat--or at least doesn't call in the lawyers--that'll help. Improving the mechanics of voting still needs work so we can have more trust in the sytem. "Anything but chads" is a lousy design requirement. We've got to face up to the real constraint: easy, secure, anonymous, pick two.

The libertarian side of me is all for divided government, and thinks the Reps were such screw-ups they deserved to be punished.

The hawk side isn't happy. Though there's some potential silver linings. The freshman Dems such as Heath Shuler keep using the word "winning" about Iraq so I'm hoping they'll keep the cut-and-run types under control.

I do have some hope that Lieberman, Webb, McCain, and the moderate freshmen in the House may form a moderate caucus which holds the balance of power. There was a precedent for that with the Senate "Gang of 14". Seeing the beginnings of a third party from this is too much to hope for realistically, but it would be nice to see some balance.

Rumsfeld's departure isn't a big deal for me. I figured at this point he had to be exhausted and was staying because Bush didn't want to deal with the horrendous circus that confirmation hearings for a new SecDef would become. Possibly those hearings are now going to be a way to make the Democrats take some responsibility for what happens next.

Replacing him with Gates, combined with Baker leading a study on Iraq, frankly scares me. The "realist" faction of foreign policy should be called "rationalists." These are the people convinced that everyone in the world is working toward a goal of maximizing their per capita GDP and uses cost-benefit analysis to selection the best option toward that. In the real world leaders sometimes want to boost themselves at the expense of their people, or destroy an enemy no matter the cost. There's a lot of people out there playing negative-sum games. Some chant "Death to America!" The "realists" can't handle those problems in their framework and ignore them. That's how we got into this mess. The only way out is one of the end states I've described before.

I think we'd have a better shot at getting to the best case outcome if we stayed on the offensive, but that's been off the table for a couple of years now. If Iraq succeeds (something that depends on the Iraqis as much as us) it may be enough of an example to start reforming the Arab world by itself. So just holding on there may do.

If not . . . then we've lost our chance at the best case and have to start looking at the worse options. The chief blame for that will be on Bush for not getting out the message that it's all one war. He doesn't have to do it himself--and isn't articulate enough to--but delegating it to bloggers and talk radio guys isn't enough to convince swing voters. I think he deliberately chose to leave it ambiguous to avoid offending uncommitted Muslims, but it looks like that got him the worst of both worlds. I admire him for choosing to take decisive action but sustaining that requires mobilizing the national will. Lincoln did that. FDR did that. LBJ didn't. Hopefully Bush got just enough to give democracy a chance in the Arab world.

Oh, local elections. Republicans swept, as expected for Tarrant County. Kinky got 12.6%, which is up for grabs if either party tries to do something other than the same-old same-old, and would be enough to win the election for whoever gets them. Someone being that innovative might even pick up the 0.6% the Libertarian got.
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