It's that time of year again... the time when we pre-empt our usual Friday Talking Points column here and instead gather 'round the virtual campfire and shove a metaphorical flashlight under our chin, and proceed to tell two tales of horror guaranteed to make your blood run like ice water in the veins, no matter which side of the political divide you hail from.
That's right, it's Hallowe'en season again! Actually, to be scrupulously honest, it's the eve before the eve before All Hallows' Eve, so I guess technically we are celebrating Hallowe'en'en'en tonight, but I will not further use this term because (1.) it is silly, and (2.) it caused my spell checker to have a nervous breakdown.
Both of tonight's bone-shaking scariness hinge somewhat [Cue: Creaking hinge] on the state of Delaware, so here is a gratuitous Delaware jack-o-lantern I carved for the occasion:
This marks the second state-themed pumpkin I've carved over the years (the other one was Ohio (as in "The Night Of The Diebold Zombies"), and I'd like to thank the political gods for giving me state subjects which are fairly easy to carve into a pumpkin. I shudder to think how tough it would be if Maryland or West Virginia were the focus of the political spotlight right now. I'm still recovering from carving the contiguous outline of America last year, if truth be told.
But enough of this nonsense! Let's get on with the scary nonsense, shall we? This year we have two nightmarish scenarios to recount, one from the Left and one from the Right. So, close your eyes and picture us with scary flashlight-under-the-chin lighting, and read on... if you dare!
[Cue: Shrieking and chain rattling, and ominous insane pipe organ music fading in the wind....]
Nightmare On Democrat Street
The 2010 midterm elections.
[Roll final film credits, starting with a large: "The End".]
OK, that was a cheap shot. Besides, that sort of gag's been done before, so it's intellectually lazy. No one can top the immortal Bambi Versus Godzilla in this regard, anyway, so it is foolish to try. Let's begin again, shall we?
Nightmare On Democrat Street [take 2]
Democrats suffer an election rout next Tuesday. Tea Party candidates across the land are voted into office, including Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Linda McMahon, and -- in a final blow to Democratic voters -- Christine O'Donnell of Delaware.
All is not lost, however, as the Senate split when the dust has settled is a perfectly-balanced 50-50. Vice President Biden will cast the deciding vote, so Democrats breathe an enormous sigh of relief.
This proves to be short-lived, however, as Joe Lieberman announces he is switching parties and caucusing with the Republicans, who have promised not only to let him keep his committee chairmanships, but also to let him personally oversee the torture chambers in Guantanamo, whenever he is free to fly down and wield the red-hot pincers personally.
[Cue: Prolonged shrieking in agony, fading to gibberish and sobbing.]
Senator O'Donnell [Cue: Further shrieking...] is named, in gratitude for her longshot win, as the first chairperson of a new Senate committee whose sole purpose is a witchhunt. But not, of course, for actual witches (since O'Donnell herself will be in charge). The committee proclaims its goals in the name it takes: the Senate Committee on Morality, Anti-Sexing Teen Urges, Researching Bonerkillers, And Terminating Erotica. Too late -- long after the letterheads have been printed on new Senate stationery and business cards -- someone figures out this was the most colossal failure to double-check the acronym since George W. Bush wanted to call the Iraq War "Operation Iraqi Liberation," so they are stuck with it. The M.A.S.T.U.R.B.A.T.E. committee begins with fevered activity into vigorously rubbing out sexuality in all Americans, which builds to the climax of making not only pornography illegal, but also making any activity or thoughts illegal of which the Puritans (described as "our real Founding Fathers" by committee members) would not have approved. Homosexuality is deemed a capital offense. Hugh Hefner flees the country, but Larry Flynt is caught 500 feet from the Canadian border and shipped off to Guantanamo forthwith, where Senator Lieberman personally attends to him in a specially-constructed dungeon.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch (so to speak) the defeated Democratic Party falls into an epic round of recriminations about why they lost so badly. This gets so contentious it breaks into vicious denunciations by one faction or another, as the debate rages around what to do and which direction will lead them out of the political wilderness.
The party, as a result, splits wide open. The two competing wings of the party line up behind two very different sets of principles. On the one side are the corporatists in the party. Democrats formerly known as "Blue Dogs" rally behind the slogan "What's good for Wall Street is good for America," but they shun the "Blue Dog" label because so many of the Blue Dogs were the ones who just got voted out in favor of Republicans.
Various suggestions are considered as to what to call this new party, until someone has the bright idea to outsource the choice. Madison Avenue is called in, and the ad men and ad women huddle and perform various voodoo rites involving chicken bones and blood (which they mysteriously insist on calling "market research"). After lighting a giant fire and boiling an immense cauldron with all sorts of unspeakable ingredients thrown in, they reach a consensus.
The new party announces it will henceforth be called the "You Are So Sexy Party," since (as every junior ad man knows) the number one rule of selling anything is "sex sells," and since it also positions themselves conveniently in opposition to O'Donnell's anti-sex witchhunt. This is immediately shortened into the Y.A.S.S. Party by their supporters, who unleash a multi-billion dollar advertising campaign even more annoying than the "Whassup!" ads of yore, making it the "cool phrase" everyone under thirty latches on to ("Yassss!").
What is left of the Democratic Party immediately begins calling this the "You A.S.S. Party" in denigration. The Yassers throw a partnership of lawyers at the courts in order to get an injunction against this, but all they succeed in doing is to copyright and trademark every image of a donkey or bare buttocks ever produced, over the strenuous objections of the (now in exile) porn industry. Because they are business-friendly, the Yassers immediately renounce all bare-buttock images which have no political component to them, and the pornographers become strong supporters of the new party, in the hopes of overturning the laws Senator O'Donnell is cranking out by the bushelful. Voters, aghast at the O'Donnell witchhunt, flock to the new party's banner.
The Yassers rename their donkey logo "The Almighty Dollar," and everyone is happy (except for the hapless Democrats, of course). The You Are So Sexy Party announces its intentions to nominate Donald Trump for president in 2012, and they express the open hope that they can amend the Constitution to bend the age limits so that Paris Hilton can be his running mate for veep.
The hapless Democrats, needing a new logo (and short on cash), invite Jon Stewart to come up with one. He unveils it on his television show, and from this point on Democrats are known throughout the cartooning world as the party of unherdable housecats.
While this fray is playing itself out, President Barack Obama announces that, in the spirit of his long-hoped-for "bipartisanship," he is not merely willing but actually eager to work with the new Republican House and Republican Senate on budgetary matters. America is stunned as, in quick order, the Tea Party agenda is enacted into law.
[I leave the rest of this nightmare for you to fill in with your own fevered imagination....]
Nightmare On Republican Street
Election night 2010 is not as good as Republicans had hoped, as they fall short of taking the Senate by two seats. This is all the more painful when they realize that the two seats they really should have won (but failed to) were Delaware and Pennsylvania. The nomination of Christine O'Donnell not only blew their chances for an easy pickup in Delaware, but because much of the television ads run in the Delaware race were on Philadelphia television markets, they also scared Philly suburban voters away from voting Republican. Democrats hold onto not just one but two states they really should have lost -- exactly the number Republicans fall short by in their quest for a Senate majority. Even Lieberman switching parties can't save this fiasco.
But the really surprising news from election night is the come-from-behind win by Proposition 19 in California, which legalizes recreational marijuana use by adults.
President Obama immediately announces his strong opposition to the will of the California voters, and promises a strict crackdown and swift legal challenges. Republicans, following their "everything Obama's for we're against" playbook, shock the nation by declaring their party pro-marijuana. Newsweek brags that it called this one right, for good reason.
This effort is led by the newly-elected Tea Party members, and is strongly supported by the Western Libertarian wing of the Republican Party. It is pronounced a "fiscally conservative" position which "reduces waste of federal dollars" and ends the "big government" involvement with "personal freedom." Plus, establishment Republicans reason, if the hippies really want to pay taxes on pot, that means everyone else's taxes can be cut as a direct result, so why not just go ahead and let the stoners pony up the taxes they're begging to pay?
The mainstream media declares it the second coming of the "Nixon-goes-to-China moment."
The Republican Party becomes the "cool" party for young people to associate with as, a direct result, which destroys the Democrats' traditional advantage among this growing demographic for the next twenty-five years.
Republicans, looking around for other good issues to stick it to the Democrats on, decide that they are going to use the same "small government" and "pro-freedom" logic to start supporting gay marriage. After all, it's another issue that Obama is against, so why shouldn't they be for it?
When budget time rolls around, the Tea Partiers are faced with the conundrum that their two signature issues are working against each other. After a bitter debate, deficit-cutting wins out over tax-cutting, and establishment Republicans fall into line as the Pentagon's budget is slashed in half. The Isolationist wing of the Republican Party revives itself (after a long nap), and begins pulling American troops not only out of Afghanistan and Iraq, but also out of all the enormous American military bases around the world in places where we fought long-ago wars (like Germany, Japan, and South Korea). This is truly the only way to make such a massive cut in the military's budget, and the Isolationists win the day.
Democrats, more stunned than anyone at this turn of events, form a circular firing squad and bicker endlessly about what they should do in response. Some decide to become Republican-lite and support the Republican renaissance, and are called traitors to the party by the rest of the Democrats. But most establishment Democrats stand firm for continuing the War On Drugs, keeping gay marriage illegal, and ever-increasing military spending. This loses them virtually all of their base support among remaining Democratic voters, and they spend a generation as the "Out" party, never quite figuring out what happened to them.
President Obama, of course, gives speeches condemning the Republican positions on marijuana, gays, and the military -- but then he goes ahead and signs all the bills they put on his desk anyway, in the spirit of "bipartisanship."
The truly horrifying thing for Republicans, though, is that in the midst of their resurgence, and at the height of their power, they realize that they have become America's truly Liberal political party.
[Cue: Maniacal "mad doctor" laughter, and ghostly noises. Have a happy Hallowe'en everyone!]
Cross-posted at Democratic Underground
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
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