Wednesday, November 05, 2008

AFTER-PARTY OBSERVATIONS. That was a particularly pleasant Tuesday night.

Matthew Yglesias observes that the cry of "he must govern from the middle" is already going up. But these people don't know where the middle is. The government owns a majority interest in several heretofore private banks, is embroiled in foreign adventures for which it cannot pay, and, from the looks of the various referenda results, is riven with significant cultural divisions. It looks more like Lord North's Britain than what we usually think of as America. The new President is better advised to seek solutions rather than some mythical center line to toe.

Have a look at the prominent conservative thinkers (I know, I know) who are working on a conservative "game plan", trimming like little Clintons in search of the Joe the Plumber vote that brought John McCain all the way to 163 electoral votes. They're looking for the middle because they have nothing else to do. It's a fittingly harmless occupation for people who are not going to be making policy anytime soon.

I still insist, against the tide, that McCain's concession speech was more a disturbing than an inspiring spectacle. I've heard dissension at the traditional call for cooperation with the victor before, but nothing like the ugly response of the Phoenix crowd, and to my eyes the famously irritable McCain was annoyed by it (though of course grim memories of his whole "challenged" campaign were probably uppermost in his mind).

I would contrast that scene with David Dinkins' concession speech when he was ousted by Rudolph Giuliani in 1993. Obviously distraught, wiping his face with a handkerchief, New York's first black mayor briefly but emphatically put the kibosh on the hurt feelings of the crowd. "Elections come and go," he said in part, "mayors come and go, but the life of the city must endure." Dinkins was not always the most eloquent of speakers, but he commanded that moment at least, in part because he was speaking to people with whom it was relatively easy to reason.

Yet McCain's speech prompted Mark Levin to say, "If McCain had won, we were told of possible riots." Nothing in front of their own eyes affects these people like their lurid fantasies of what their opponents might have done.

One of the many happy results of the blessed finish of this election is the end of Megan McArdle's professions of support for Barack Obama. I'm still not sure what she was trying to do with those; sometimes, when she was advising McCain to attack her candidate on Bill Ayers or telling us "I don't believe that Obama is going to change Washington, eliminate lobbying, etc. I wish he wouldn't tell me things that I can't possibly believe... he might even make Washington work a little better, though I kind of doubt it," I thought she might be imagining herself a useful double agent for the Republicans, sowing dissension among Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and whomever else might be taking her seriously.

Now she's saying, "If the country is so progressive, how come Bush won the popular vote four years ago?" and that the high black voter turnout was a "definitionally unrepeatable happening." When Obama fails to denounce the capital gains tax in his Inaugural Address, I expect that will be the last straw. Then McArdle can become the go-to disgruntled Obama supporter. Orson Scott Card must be kicking himself for not thinking of this first.

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