First, there was Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. Like every other Democrat in the Senate, he rubber stamped the Obama agenda, loading future generations with unnecessary debt. Then 2010 came along….and he saw the handwriting on the wall. After multiple terms as a Senator, why waste the money and be humiliated? Instead, bow out and begin to enjoy a fabulous retirement, courtesy the taxpayers (after burdening them with tremendous debt and excess regulation, of course).
Then there was the humiliating defeat of Russ Feingold in blue Wisconsin and Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas (hardly blue, but a state that votes in Democrats almost everywhere except the presidential election), along with Pelosi losing her perch as Speaker….and the big gavel that went along with it. The Senate seat formerly occupied by Obama himself went to a Republican. And in blue leaning Pennsylvania, the seat occupied by self-serving “Benedict” Arlen Specter (defeated by another from his own party), went to a Republican. Talk about shellacking!
Likewise, Dorgan’s North Dakota colleague, Kent Conrad, announced his retirement. Why bother getting humiliated?
But now the shellacking moves to Virginia. This is a generally red state that has had two Democrat governors prior to the current Republican (Virginia imposes a term limit preventing immediate reelection) and flipped to blue for the so-called “hope and change” election. In the midst of the 2006 and 2008 Democrat waves, Virginia elected two Democrat Senators. Now those Senators must face reelection….and things are not so easy for Democrats in Virginia. Jim Webb narrowly won his seat even in the midst of the 2006 Democrat wave and likely recognizes that we have a political “climate change” that would result in humiliation. So, he’ll be a one term wonder.
The retirements of Byron Dorgan (previously) and Kent Conrad can be explained away, even if the explanation is transparent and the timing is obvious. After having served multiple terms in the Senate, they may have suddenly remembered they have a family or something and want to spend more time with them (rather than face humiliating defeats like Russ Feingold). But Jim Webb, being in his first term, cannot.
Basically, the “elephant in the room,” (and oh yes, pun intended) that nobody wants to talk about, is Barack Obama. Sure, he’s still nearly worshipped in the Northeast and West Coast, but he has managed to decimate Democrat elsewhere. (Democrats need more than just the Northeast, the West Coast, and Illinois to stay in power.) For a red but briefly blue state like Virginia, it was obvious with their 2009 governor’s race that it has become red again. If that wasn’t bad enough, Obama will likely (if Hillary does not primary him and defeat him) be on the ballot….with coattails. In normally red Virginia, Obama’s coattails are NOT a positive thing.
The 2008 presidential election was basically a contest between a Democrat (calling himself a “Republican”) and an extremist. Back in 2008, I was sad that the extremist won, but in the long run it was the best thing ever. The weak and liberal McCain (oh sure he pretended to be “conservative” to win his primary race in 2010) would have inflicted deep harm on the conservative movement for decades to come. Democrats would have likely gained veto proof majorities in both houses of Congress. There might have even been a type of liberal polar opposite to the tea party, demanding ever larger government, a nanny state the likes of which we cannot imagine, total taxpayer provided housing, food, cars, ATVs, boats, jobs, pets, video games, cell phones (complete with free video chat and texting), computers, Internet service, and even vacations. And how would this be paid for? “Tax the rich!” they’d chant.
Instead, liberals got their wish in the short term. They put everything they could into Obama —- and he has managed to be the conservative movement’s unlikely “best friend.” Under big government George W. Bush, who betrayed conservatives in a number of areas, the movement was severely weakened. McCain would have probably destroyed it. But Obama has reinvigorated it. And at the same time, Obama has caused deep harm to the liberal movement….hopefully for at least a decade or two. Without Obama, incumbent Senators like the two from North Dakota never would have retired. Others like Feingold and Lincoln would likely have not been humiliated in the 2010 election. Arlen Specter likely would have won reelection as a RINO, and had Obama stayed in the Senate he’d likely have won reelection as an incumbent. Pelosi would likely be Speaker until she voluntarily retired.
Very few Republican held Senate seats are up for reelection in 2012 and all except Scott Brown are in solid red states. Assuming Scott Brown loses reelection in deep blue Massachusetts, Republicans need five Senate seats to flip to take control of the Senate. If things remain as they are, the North Dakota and Virginia Senate seats are almost certain to flip to Republican. Then they need three more. I suspect Mr. Cornhusker Kickback, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, will retire….though I’d love to see him face a massive and humiliating defeat on election day due to betraying his faux “pro-life” principles. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana likely could face defeat. That’s five, and control.
But then there are the “bonus seats”: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, and West Virginia. It’s possible none of these will flip, but one or more could. Ohio is most likely out of this bunch. Like Virginia, Ohio leans red but flipped to blue in 2008. In 2010 they elected a new Republican Senator and defeated a Democrat governor. Right now, they have a first term Democrat Senator who got in on the 2006 Democrat wave, just like Jim Webb.
People were clamoring for more liberalism during the Bush years. It was inching closer and closer with 2006 until it culminated with Obama’s election and strong Democrat majorities in Congress. For anyone other than hopelessly lost solid liberals, it was like the moment a child touches a hot stove burner despite being warned by the parent not to do it. The child had to feel the pain for himself or herself before understanding why it shouldn’t be done.