will stay Republican
reams of pestering mail to the contrary, I cannot bring myself to
knock off another 900 words on this Iraq mess. It's been twelve
years of this crap and most of my thoughts are well documented in
my second book, "Fear No Art", and if anyone is
really interested they can storm into a Barnes & Noble, plunk
down 15 bucks and have a ball. Otherwise, I'm done considering it
anything more than a corporate big-dick mambo in the desert.
Seeing how this economy
is so completely fucked, it is only right to huddle back into the safe
haven of political prognostication, which these days is starting to resemble
my putrid record for betting on pro football.
In the early 90s' both subjects brought smiles to colleagues and cash
flow to the Campion residence. Neither is apparently working too well
in this new and improved century of madness. Yet, strangely, I cannot
Nonetheless, the view from Fort Vernon is pleasant these days.
Local politics glides along merrily on the backs of property taxes, sanitation
concerns and Indian burial grounds being defaced by wayward contractors.
And, I guess, being a resident of the Garden State again for the past
13 months and not commenting on the Senator Robert Torricelli fiasco,
and his laughable stumble toward the Election Day finish line, is somewhat
damning to my credibility as a reporter. That is, if I possessed credibility.
However, the kinds of sources and connections that make a column of this
ilk fly are not the kind I wish to dredge up in my new home state.
Let's leave it at that.
Now let's foray into what these mid-term elections are really all about
to us media types: the national scene.
Firstly, this is a redistricting year, so some key states will lose and/or
gain congressional representatives. What that will mean in the long run
is a wild card since it balances out the normal number of retirees. Most
times redistricting means incumbents fixing certain voting areas to keep
their piece of the pie, a highly dubious practice that ranks up there
with the many injustices to the voting public that continue to fail this
This time around the Republicans will be defending a six-seat advantage
in the House and hope to flip the disadvantage in the Senate by at least
one. History says the GOP would be looking at miles of bad road. Most
voters, although concerned with local issues, tend to use mid-term elections
to lean toward the party opposite of the reigning executive branch.
Even those who loudly espouse the theory that these things are about local
economies have to admit this autumn does not bode well for Republicans.
Forty-eight of the 50 states are projecting record budget losses for '03
and tight races tend to dredge up fiscal mayhem for incumbents.
But of the fewer than 40 districts considered even remotely competitive
this fall, the Democrats would have to take two-thirds to change the majority
in the House. In fact, the highly regarded Cook Political Report announced
this week that only "two dozen House races will be tight and the
Democrats would need to win at least 75 percent of those to take back
control of the House."
With so few close races and so much ground to make up, this is a heavy
challenge; especially with Republicans painting every Democrat with a
treasonous brush if they so much as consider opposing some measure of
this increasingly ambiguous Bush foreign policy romp.
But with the ugly exit of Gary Condit in California and the Torricelli
stank here in Jersey, the big money falls on the GOP side. The House will
The real horse race resides in the Senate where tussles in South Dakota,
Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa, Georgia and Louisiana will likely decide
policy for the next two years.
The Democrats will tell you it's important to keep things even in Washington
to avoid easy appointees to the Supreme Court, giving the Right to Life
crowd a fighting chance. Not to mention more noise on Medicare and Social
Security (again!), last year's tax cut and the billions a month on this
country is spending on gassing desert caves, spying on North Korea and
something resembling Homeland Security.
None of this is likely to matter, even if the Republicans gain control
of the Senate. With the philosophical split in the voter base being almost
even, it is a stone cold guarantee that any extreme maneuvers would lay
waste to the future of the party and make G.W. another one-term Bush.
However, politically, this would be a major coup for Republicans.
They can almost smell the tide beginning to turn. Barring more independent
wrangling, this is a true chance for policy threats to bend their way
for at least two years.
Of course, this is a country literally divided down the middle.
For the first time in this nation's history there has been no significant
shift in the public debate since its closest presidential election.
There is no mandate. There is no fusion.
Just like pro football. Parody.
Makes it hard to win money or guess power struggles.
Yet, strangely, I cannot turn away.
© James Campion October 2002
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