Yes, it's over. A collective sigh of relief is heard throughout the land. Many of us will now cocoon ourselves in a news-free zone for the next few months. There will be withdrawal symptoms, for sure, like the end of baseball season. What will we do with all this free time?
Not a problem for news junkies. The fun has just begun. There's an administration to cast, speculation about post-election deals, mergers and maneuvers. And how about the people who deliver the news? There's going to be some adjustments there.
For heavy news users, who cannot go cold turkey, let the scouting reports and predictions begin. Here are a few possibilities:
• MSNBC's KEITH OLBERMANN's ratings will fall considerably. No need to seek comfort in his daily BushBash. He still has FOX News to play off but...
• FOX News ratings will diminish but RUPERT MURDOCH reads the prevailing winds and will tack his channel into calmer ideological waters. More Shep Smith than Steve Doocy.
• The Rachel Maddow Show will continue its success because of her smart, non-confrontational demeanor. She fits into a growing zeitgeist among viewers turned off by fractious partisan bickering.
• The number of CNN's holographic reporters will increase in direct proportion to their ratings decrease.
• JOHN MCCAIN will reprise his pre-election good guy, independent persona. He will co-sponsor some major legislation with Hilary Clinton - perhaps healthcare reform.
• SARAH PALIN will spend the next three years raising prodigious amounts of money from the Beauty Pageant wing of the Republican Party, amassing I.O.Us from candidates around the country for her 2012 presidential run. Policy and geography experts will work with her.
• JOE THE PLUMBER's sell-by date was November 4th. Any movement after that is just reverberation.
• MITT ROMNEY starts putting together his next presidential organization. The pragmatist in him will counter the Palin-Evangelic branch with a more centrist offering next time around. He's keeping a competitive eye on Louisiana's BOBBY JINDAL after the Governor's steady handling of his state's hurricane crisis.
• RALPH NADER will finally fade-away from presidential politics thus forgoing the Harold Stassen Award for most White House runs by a single individual. The former Minnesota Governor holds the record at nine.
• ELIZABETH HASSELBECK's effective campaign appearances for Sarah Palin will generate financial support for her to run for political office.
• PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA will follow Lincoln's 'team of rivals' model and pull several Republicans into his cabinet and administration.
• Feelers will be put out to MICHAEL BLOOMBERG for Treasury Secretary but he will decline in favor of his significant term-limit-breaking third tour as NY Mayor.
• Some time towards the end of next year, MSNBC's CHRIS MATTHEWS will leave his 'Hardball' show and begin a run for Arlen Spector's Pennsylvania Senate seat.
• Because the Palin interviews reminded everyone of her ample news chops, KATIE COURIC will retain her anchor chair at the CBS Evening News. However, the format will adjust by adding another person in Washington to share anchor duties. It could be another woman.
• TOM BROKAW goes back to Montana and Meet the Press will return to it's original multiple-reporter format - as in 'the press.'
• And finally, the post-election season will look a lot like back to the future. Meaning, eleven years of the laissez-faire governments of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, ended in the giant 1929 depression. That was followed by ROOSEVELT's activist government cycle that dominated until LYNDON JOHNSON's excesses of the 1960s. The current ideological cycle that has prevailed since REAGAN, and impeached CLINTON, also ended in a giant fiscal wreck. It will now be followed by another cycle of activist government for the foreseeable future. It took an activist government and a world war to get us out of the '29 disaster. It's taken a hands-off government and two wars to get us into this one. Left-Right ideological clashes will be trumped by necessary pragmatism.