My daughter, a freshman in college, called earlier in the semester to report that she had gotten a high mark on an English essay. The professor had even read part of it to the class. At home, this was greeted with cheers, coming as it had from a young adult whose early relationship with the English language at one point resembled hand to hand combat.
As a kid, when Courtney had an idea, it was an "ideal". Announcing she had apologized for any transgressions big or small came out as "I said my sorries." As a sort of liquid epiphany, apple juice regularly emerged as a request for "apple jews." Apple Catholics or Protestants were apparently not as sweet. The best baseball player ever to don a uniform was "Babe Ruth-ez". And early on, at a point when she still thought her older brother was cool, she promised that if she ever came into money, she would be sure to get him tickets to the "World Serious."
I say the hell with her brother for the time being.
The Republicans need those tickets.
Tuesday, as we all know, was Election Day. Turnout was low. Here in New York well less than 30% of the registered voters cast ballots, and the same was the case throughout the nation. The Republicans won the gubernatorial races in New Jersey (by a little) and Virgina (by a lot). New York City's now Independent (previously Republican and probably Democrat previous to that) Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- having spent $100 million of his own money to the other guy's five -- won reelection to a third term by a less than resounding five points. And suburbanites tossed out a three-term incumbent County Executive in Westchester and nearly did the same to a two-termer on Long Island. Both were Democrats.
This is hardly what the statisticians would call a "representative sample." Most of the races had decidedly local angles to them, all successfully exploited by the victors. And when 70% of those eligible to vote stay home, those who show up tend to be (1) motivated and (2) extreme. In Virginia, for example, those who voted this year had favored John McCain by 8 points a year ago. Clearly a lot of last year's Obama voters -- who had won the state by 12 points for Barack -- stayed home. Enough in fact to create a 20 point swing in starting points. It is not a surprise that a Republican won that race, and given the margin he probably would have won even if all those Obama voters had showed. But it would have been a lot closer.
For its part, New Jersey was close.
Even though it should not have been.
For most of the race, the now Governor-Elect Chris Christie was ahead by double digits. He explains his slide from inevitability to mere victory as the product of Governor Corzine's negative campaign ads. He doth, however, protest too much. Both of them ran negative ads, and as the children are wont to say, Christie started it. Jon Corzine did not invent political corruption in the Garden State and had nothing to do with the parade of hacks marching to their perp walks in this summer's political version of the Sopranos. But if all you knew came from Christie's commercials, you'd have thought that Corzine himself belonged in the slammer. It's easy to become Governor of New Jersey if you promise to end corruption and lower property taxes. Actually doing this, however, is the rough equivalent of a political hat trick.
Many have tried.
None have succeeded.
Not even Chris Christie when he was New Jersey's US Attorney. The bad guys he put in jail were just replaced by a new crop of bad guys for the current US Attorney to put in jail. When that group is replaced and Christie is in his fourth year as governor, someone will run against him promising to end corruption. And that someone won't have to write new campaign ads. He can just dust off Christie's.
The Chairman of the national Republican Party, Michael Steele, wants none of this local angle stuff. For his money, Tuesday's elections were an indictment of an "incredibly arrogant" Democratic Party that is putting "our freedom and economy at risk." Of course, the economy was at risk long before January 20, 2009. In fact, it was more or less on life support. And it is very hard to talk about the loss of freedom these days without images of Dick Cheney's uber-state coming immediately to mind. Steele must think that a free and productive America is one where Wall Street is made safe for renewed financial bubbles and health care is provided at the whim of for profit insurance companies.
The rest of us know otherwise.
Even the rest of us in New Jersey and Virginia. We've already been to ...
The World Serious.
In fact, we live there.