It's not outrageous to believe that Republicans will pick up some seats in 2010; history pretty much guarantees it. Majorities expand, contract -- it's typical.
What's more surprising is the number of political forecasters talking up the possibility of 2010 as another "wave election," with Republicans reaping the benefits. They're even discussing scenarios in which support for Democrats completely collapses and Republicans take back the House.
And who's to say they're wrong? By traditional measurements and past performance, they're probably right. But I'd contend their calculations do not factor in a very atypical circumstance: the challengers unraveling -- en masse.
Because the Republican Party is barreling forward without an objective. If it's a "wave" they're riding, rest assured that they have absolutely no idea where it's going to crash.
"The amazing thing," Joe Klein recently wrote, "remains not only the unwillingness of responsible Republicans -- a term that is in danger of becoming an oxymoron -- to call bull on this, but also the willingness of many prominent Republicans to join in the slinging of garbage."
It's almost laughable that the Republicans have asked for time to rebut the President's address to Congress on Wednesday night. What're they going to say? The closest thing they've offered to an alternative is a Michael Steele commercial where he essentially pledges not to kill senior citizens (subtext: Democrats will). The Florida GOP says Obama's education speech intends to "indoctrinate America's children to his socialist agenda." A quick glance at their current discourse turns up an abundance of statements and insinuations like these.
Look, anyone can understand a political party's natural inclination to oppose its rivals. But state-sanctioned murder? Brainwashing? The idea that the President is some foreign-created menace? As Dyna Moe joked, "Dining Room Table/Palin 2012" is looking like a plausible GOP ticket at this point.
The fact is that sometime before November 2010, the Republican Party will have to come to terms with what it's done: created an insatiable beast that won't be satisfied until.... well, nothing. They want to get up and scream nonsense and conspiracy and lies.
So when the Republican campaign rallies of 2010 are filled with people like the "He's an Arab" lady, who in the GOP will be brave enough to pull the mic away? Judging by the actions of the last month: no one. That'll make good fodder for the evening news.
The Republican Party hasn't just lost sight of the center -- they've lost sight of reality. They are overrun with people who don't want to solve anything (at least, anything that's not a figment of their imaginations). They have no solutions. And that's ultimately what elections are all about.
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