The Fog Of History: Nothing Is Written

As a political junkie, I consume way too much media in the run up to any national election. In 2014  the talk is of the inevitability of the Republicans taking the Senate. It *is* possible, it’s a tough map for Democrats, lots of Mittbot-Walnuts red states *are* voting, but it’s not a given. I see a bunch of races that are within the margin of error in the polls: Iowa, Alaska, Georgia, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Kansas. And I retain some hope that Mary Landrieu can pull a fourth term rabbit out of her hat in Louisiana. It’s also unclear if the Senate majority will even be decided tomorrow night, between Alaska and the two races that seem headed to a run-off: Louisiana and Georgia. If the GOP does not have 51 seats on Wednesday morning and Mark Begich wins as I think he will, there will be lots of national money flowing to the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Oh joy, more attack ads and more of Cassidybot’s only campaign theme: Me good, Obama bad. The run-off polls have tightened and Cassidybot is merely tolerated by local teabaggers.

Before I get into the foggy history that has been driving me batshit, a few picks. I think Udall, Shaheen, Hagan, and Begich will hold their seats. It also looks as if the Michelle Bachmann of Iowa, Crazy Joni Ernst, will squeak by, and that the independent dude, Greg Orman, will take out Pat Roberts in Kansas. It’s still unclear as to which party he’ll caucus with, but I think he’ll win because Roberts has to share the ballot with Gov. Sam Brownback who appears poised to lose his race.

Larry Sabato is currently projecting a 53-47 post run-off GOP Senate. We agree that NH and NC will stay blue but he’s forecasting Kansas, Colorado, Alaska, Louisiana and Georgia will go red. The way I see it, when all the votes are counted in Alaska, there will be 48 Republicans,  49 Democrats, 1 undeclared Independent, and 2 races to be decided in run-offs. I realize most people think I’m a cockeyed optimist, but there are so many close races that this could happen if the Dems GOTV effort turns out to be as good as advertised. It’s also possible that Iowans could refuse to drink the Joni Ernst Kool-Aid and send Bruce Braley to the Senate to replace Tom Harkin.

But here’s the deal: I could be wrong. The difference between me and most of the big time pundits is that very few of them are willing to admit that they could be wrong. They’re all committed to a certain scenario and are unwilling to concede that so many races are close that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be 72% certain of anything.

You’re probably wondering when I’ll get to the wee history sermon. There’s no time like the present to discuss the past. I found myself yelling at the teevee machine during the opening segment of Monday’s Rachel Maddow Show. She went on and on about the *inevitability* of the Republicans taking the Senate because it’s a 6th year election and the out party always gains seats. In recent two-term Presidencies, that did happen in 1958, 1986, and 2006 but NOT in the impeachment election of 1998. Btw, if you don’t know who the Presidents were in those years, you can either use the google or go watch some cat videos.

As you can see, it could happen but it’s NOT INEVITABLE. History can be used as a guide but it’s not carved in stone and brought down from a mountain by Charlton Heston or even Christian Bale. Holy Ben-Hur, Batman. Since I’m always banging on about history being misused by conservatives, I thought it was only fair to point out when it’s misinterpreted by a liberal cable teevee host. Of course, I find myself yelling at Rachel more during election years since her grasp of electoral politics is shakier than she thinks.

One more thing that found me yelling at the boob tube. Rachel compared the “do-nothing Congress” of Harry Truman’s day to the 113th Congress and correctly decided that the 80th Congress were pikers compared to them. She got that right. But she couldn’t leave well enough alone and showed this famous picture:


Then she indulged in some cable news hyperbole that sent me straight up the wall. She informed us that *nobody* knows who Dewey was or even that his first name was Thomas. Obviously, most Americans don’t know squat about our history but Dewey is one of the losing Presidential candidates who’s a very consequential figure in our political history. They know Tom Dewey in New York because he was a three term Governor with a progressive record and, before that, he was the prosecutor who nailed Charlie Lucky Luciano. (That felt good. I’m still suffering from Boardwalk Empire withdrawal.) Dewey was also the man responsible for the Eisenhower candidacy and, sadly, the selection of Richard Nixon for the GOP ticket for the first of 5 times. You gotta take the bitter with the sweet, y’all.

I realize that all pundits, especially cable news bloviators, are guilty of overstatement. I do it myself but, as someone who believes that educated people should know our history, I decided to blow the whistle on this moment of  geek ignorance. It’s not worthy of Debunktion Junction but I wanted to weigh in; largely because I respect kindly Doc Maddow and enjoy her work 90% of the time. She’s also one of the few people in broadcast media who hasn’t gotten hysterical about the Ebola non-crisis.

Repeat after me: nothing is inevitable in politics and, more importantly, nothing is written:

5 thoughts on “The Fog Of History: Nothing Is Written

  1. Call me a cockeyed optimist, too, because I think your scenario *is* possible. Sometimes I yell at Rachel, and sometimes I don’t bother to watch, but when she’s good, she’s very, very good.

  2. I didn’t like that segment either. Against all odds, I still have a bit of faith that not all the voters are ignorant and buy into the bullshit lies from the right. I also know that many, many do. Ever the pessimist, I am, oddly, a bit optomistic about our chances.

  3. My gut says the Dems will hold the Senate. Now, my gut has been wrong in a midterm before, but the last time was 1986 (which turned out to be a pleasant surprise). They’ll lose seats, yes — the GOPer in Colorado has run a vicious campaign, Allison Grimes has run an objectively awful campaign, and Joni Ernst is so batshit that everyone but Iowa voters has figured it out — but I don’t think the GOP takes it.

  4. But even with a repub majority, there is still room for a lot to be defeated in the cloture vote.

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