- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

A 'Hail Mary'

"Recriminations over the Democrats' Black Tuesday have Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, who faces an expensive and brutal slog to the December 7 runoff, turning the knives on her own campaign," Rod Dreher writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

"Landrieu, who goes head-to-head with Republican challenger Suzanne Haik Terrell, purged her political consultants in the wake of the national GOP sweep, and is planning to go it alone. Landrieu [on Wednesday] fired her Washington advisers, and according to a high-level Democratic source, is 'preparing to go to war' with the national party to keep its tacticians and staff away from her campaign," Mr. Dreher said.

"'Landrieu's a micromanager who doesn't listen much to advice, and she and her team her father, mother, brother and chief of staff have decided she's going to handle the runoff their way,' the Washington Democrat tells NRO. 'The [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] is going to send 150 people to Louisiana, but Landrieu and her people are preparing to go to war with the DSCC to do it the 'Louisiana way.'

" The Democratic insider explained that Team Landrieu believes nationalizing the runoff election would result in defeat, given the GOP sweep and President George W. Bush's popularity in Louisiana, a state he won in 2000.

"Landrieu ran as a Bush-friendly moderate Democrat, which made sense in the general election. But now that Louisiana voters can clearly choose between a sometimes-conservative Democratic woman, or the real thing, it's hard to see the rationale for her campaign.

"This may be why Landrieu is suddenly running away from the 'accommodationist' party leadership, which (the theory goes) led the Democrats to Tuesday's debacle, and seems to be preparing to do a 180-degree turn as a Bush-bashing old-style Democrat. Given Louisiana's conservative political culture, and the election feat of historical magnitude President Bush has just pulled off, this strategy has to qualify as a 'Hail Mary.'"

'A Sonny day'

The Republican sweep of Georgia defeating Democratic Sen. Max Cleland and Gov. Roy Barnes continues to make headlines.

"Republicans in Georgia captured the last redoubt of the Solid Democratic South," the New York Times declared yesterday.

The Republican Party also defeated Mr. Barnes' top Democratic allies in the Georgia General Assembly, House Speaker Tom Murphy and Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker.

"The governor's race was a big shock," Emory University professor Merle Black told the Associated Press. "Barnes had everything that counts in a major race he had name recognition, a huge money advantage and a perception that he was the inevitable winner. I don't think anybody ever saw this to be a close race."

Sonny Perdue became the first Republican elected to the governorship of Georgia since Reconstruction.

Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat and Mr. Barnes' predecessor as governor, described the election as the cresting of a Republican tide.

"It was something that was going to happen at some time, but I thought and some others thought it was off in the distance," Mr. Miller said. "But all of a sudden it came crashing down."

Mr. Miller himself was barely re-elected in 1994, after he tried to change the state's Confederate-themed flag. Mr. Barnes changed the flag in 2001 and was defeated Tuesday, though Mr. Perdue disavowed the issue.

"The only time that issue has come up is when the media has asked me about it," Mr. Perdue said Wednesday. "It was not part of our campaign at all."

Still, Confederate heritage supporters who rallied Wednesday at the state Capitol were jubilant over Mr. Barnes' defeat.

"We're so happy, we can't believe it," John Hall of Roswell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's a Sonny day in Georgia."

Egg on his face

"Today I have egg on my face for predicting a Democratic win," Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

"Pardon me while I wipe it off," he said.

"In politics, you are either right or wrong, and when you're wrong, you need to understand why so you don't make the same mistake again you make new ones.

"Here's why I think the Democrats lost:

"The closing week of the election featured old Walter Mondale as the poster boy for the Democrats. Having led them to defeat in 1984, he came back for an encore in 2002 with the same result. Not only did the has-been liberal go down to defeat in his home state of Minnesota, but he dragged the party's Senate candidates down with him.

"Looking like an aging member of Brezhnev's Politburo, he seemed the ghost of liberalism past as he emerged as the party's best-known Senate candidate. His very appearance told one volumes about the Democratic Party's embrace of his tax-and-spend past. The repositioning of the '90s vanished in a nod of his gray head and, like twice-cooked pork in a Chinese restaurant, he led his party to a second defeat."

Daschle rebuked

Voters "repudiated the crabbed Democratic politics of vendetta," the Wall Street Journal says.

"Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe had made Florida Gov. Jeb Bush his No. 1 target explicitly for revenge after 2000, but Mr. Bush won in a landslide. Democrats seemed to think they could conjure up a huge black turnout simply by invoking Florida 2000; they found instead that even their most loyal supporters need a reason beyond blame and partisanship," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"Tom Daschle received a similar rebuke for his Senate strategy of obstructing the Bush agenda at nearly every turn. Georgia Democrat Max Cleland followed Mr. Daschle's orders on union rules for homeland security, and it became GOP challenger Saxby Chambliss' best issue. Senate borking of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees helped defeat Democrat Ron Kirk in Texas, and opposition to estate-tax repeal hurt [Jean] Carnahan in Missouri.

"Mr. Daschle learned his obstructionism at the knee of former Majority Leader George Mitchell. But Mr. Mitchell frustrated the first President Bush because his tactics were never exposed and challenged. This President Bush was willing to make the Daschle strategy a campaign issue, and it paid off. That should cause other Democrats from Bush states to think twice before they vote like Hillary Rodham Clinton."

The Democrats' choice

"What message will Democrats take from Bush's validation day?" New York Times columnist William Safire asks.

"GOP partisans fervently hope defeated Democrats will say 'No more Mr. Nice Guy,' angrily return to class-war, peacenik principles and oppose Bush on the liberation of Iraq and on tax cuts, including the 'death tax.' However, the Clintons with control of the purse strings will likely keep their party on the moderate middle-road message of me-too," Mr. Safire predicted.

Moore nonsense

Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore, known for his hate-filled diatribes against President Bush, presumably will stay in bed for the rest of the week, with the sheets pulled over his head.

James Taranto, in his Best of the Web Today column at www.opinionjournal.com, spotted this message posted Sunday on Mr. Moore's Web site:

"Well, folks, Tuesday is the day. The day that George W. gets taught a long-overdue lesson. The day that we, the MAJORITY the 52 percent who never elected him get our chance to reclaim a bit of our former democracy (back when ALL the votes used to be counted).

"What if, on Tuesday, all of us, regardless of our political stripe, and just for the fun of it, decided to serve one eviction notice that said, you have two years to remove yourself from the premises and you had better not damage anything on your way out?"

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