- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Thank President Trump and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh for the red wall that reduced the blue wave to almost a ripple. And add a nod to the caravans of Central Americans heading toward our southern border.

Mr. Trump played the issue just right in refusing to get suckered in by the muddle-headed compassion-first members of his own party and the calculating Democrats who wept photogenic tears over the plight of the “persecuted” caravaners.

The very idea of a spontaneous caravan of asylum-seekers was and is absurd.

Thank the late Sen. John McCain, nominally a Republican, for contributing to the GOP’s losing the House. To get even with Trump, Mr. McCain had cast the vote that killed the Obamacare replacement that House Republicans finally, after years of dithering, had passed.

Senate passage at least would have allowed the GOP Congress to say it had fulfilled, however belatedly and imperfectly, a promise to America’s voters that it had been mailing in every election since 2010.

That Republicans couldn’t keep their Obamacare-replacement campaign pledge over eight years made them look like phonies unworthy of voters’ respect. With power comes responsibility and congressional Republicans turned up their noses at that maxim.

That wave would have allowed the Democrats, the press and the Never-Trump Republicans to claim Mr. Trump is the disaster they have been saying he is. Instead, the wave turned into bubble and foam when, instead of simply holding their one-seat Senate majority, as almost universally predicted, the GOP exceeded expectations, adding three new seats by the time the dust settled Wednesday in the vote tallying.

That’s thanks to Mr. Trump’s personal appearances on behalf of candidates who could not have won without him.

These three additional Senate seats, assuming no shenanigans in the Florida recount, would give Mr. Trump’s party a 54-46 majority in the next Congress, with no worries about having to water down conservative legislation to placate moderate Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Instead of getting shellacked in Florida, the GOP won all-important contests for governor and Senate, both with Mr. Trump’s help.

The press, the Democratic Party and most pundits regardless of party preference either predicted GOP defeat or said it was a distinct probability. Everybody was ready to declare the Trump era is all but over if Florida went belly-up for the GOP.

Yes, Florida has been pivotal in election after election, but it’s always been too close to draw any legitimate conclusions about any political party and its future. But that’s not how the press and pundits operate.

Though it must drive anti-Trumpers up the wall, the fact is that Mr. Trump’s party did not lose anything close to the 50-60 plus House seats Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama lost two years after winning the White House.

Still, the naysayers are trying to have the day — and that includes a lot of old-school Republicans like former Reagan White House Political Director and former Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Donatelli, who said in a Facebook post: “Of course all good things are the fruit of Trump’s efforts and the bad is someone else’s fault. GOP needs to do better than 200 House seats and 47 percent of the popular vote.”

Calling Mr. Donatelli’s words a bit harsh, Alan Feinberg Jr. countered in a Facebook post, “Trump has outperformed most past midterm elections, secured his ability to expand on his most popular success, the courts, and put himself in a decent position to win re-election in 2 years with some important Governorships. You can’t let a dislike of Trump’s style blind you to his many conservative successes.”

Actually, you can and do if you’re like most Democrats and never-Trump Republicans.

Former Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder got it exactly right on Facebook when he wrote: “Every Democratic senator in a competitive race who voted against Justice Kavanaugh went down to defeat: Donnelly, Heitkamp, Nelson, McCaskill. Behold the smoking ruins of the vicious Democratic/radical left smear campaign against this good and decent man.”

Fox News’ Chris Wallace, by contrast, was dead wrong in denying Trump credit for GOP’s keeping Senate. Everybody including the Fox News folks (Sean Hannity excluded) was talking about a blue wave before the election. Laura Ingraham got it right in saying if Mr. Trump had not campaigned in Texas and the other key battlegrounds, Ted Cruz and others might have lost. But Mr. Wallace was right in saying the Democrats’ smart recruitment of military vets and moderate women helped the Democrats to flip the House.

All in all, there was a lot of red in the sky on Tuesday, and so it was a conservative’s as well as a sailor’s delight.

⦁ Ralph Z. Hallow, the chief political correspondent of commentary, served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation fellow in urban journalism at Northwestern University, and resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar.

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