In their rose-colored crystal balls, our friends in the news media are seeing glorious days ahead. They're gloating over the will of the people leading to the death of impeachment proceedings, soon to go the way of Newt Gingrich and his poisonous pipe dreams of "revolution." The media glitterati are whistling while they work, burying any vestiges of conservatism left.
Moderation (read: big-spending, no-tax-cuts, run-from-social-issues business as usual) has captured the flag in Washington, they have said in mind-numbing lockstep. Governors can teach those congressional radicals because they "ran from the scandal," and focused on "the issues." Take your lesson, conservatives, from ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "I think that the hand of the moderates has been strengthened tonight. The big winners in the Republican Party tonight, George Pataki in New York, John Engler in Michigan, George Bush in Texas, Jeb Bush in Florida, were all trying for a more compassionate conservatism, more centrist, moderate conservatism, not the far right-wing agenda that really cost the Republican Party a lot tonight."
The next morning on Today, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter insisted: "Everyone is running to the middle of the road, and the faster you get there the better you do at the polls. So this is a bad election for extremists in both parties and a bad night I think for the Christian Coalition and those who want to pull the Republican Party to the right. The centrist, pragmatic Republican Governors did very well."
But as Michael Barone points out in the Weekly Standard, there's an entirely different way to look at this. With the exception of Dan Lungren in California, the GOP won all the major states - resoundingly. What made this noteworthy is that in the case of Tom Ridge (Pennsylvania), Tommy Thompson (Wisconsin), Don Sundquist (Tennessee), Bush and Pataki, each had been elected the first time out by very narrow margins and each won handily this time. What issues did they run on? For Pataki and Sundquist it was tax cuts; for Engler, it was welfare and education reform; for Thompson, welfare reform. All conservative themes.
Was Election Night a "bad night for extremes"? Consider some 1996 ideological scores from the American Conservative Union: the Democrats sent to the Senate Barbara Boxer (5 percent conservative), Russ Feingold (10), Patty Murray (0), Charles Schumer (5), and Blanche Lincoln (a 10 in 1994 before she retired from the House). The Republicans sent Mike Crapo (95) and Jim Bunning (100), and Peter Fitzgerald, who the networks warned in April couldn't beat Carol Moseley-Braun in Illinois because he was "too conservative."
Perhaps the most insulting theme of the post-election entrail-reading was the idea that "moderates," like the new media darlings the Bush Brothers, sought out minority and women voters. It simply escapes the media's eyes that the conservative message of limited government and individual responsibility is more beneficial to minorities than anyone else. They cannot stop associating conservatives and minorites only through a prism of hate and fear.
Oh, there was plenty of hate and fear going around this year - coming exclusively from the Democrats' camp. The Missouri Democrats told black voters that not voting was like letting another church explode, another cross burn. The White House scared black voters with visions of Republican camera crews intimidating blacks from voting. In Maryland, smash-mouth Democratic consultant Bob Shrum helped Parris Glendening take Republican Ellen Sauerbrey's pro-life, pro-property rights record and twist it into her oppostion to "civil rights," which is a code word for - being anti-black.
Throughout the entire Bush presidency, the media never let George Bush forget the Willie Horton ads (which his campaign never aired, which were never racist - but never mind). Where are the cloak-and-dagger sleuths of the Willie Horton Conspiracy like CBS's Eric Engberg or Newsweek's Eleanor Clift now that the Democratic Party is accusing the Republicans of supporting church explosions and cross burnings? Where are the healers that hated racial exploitation in politics? When Newt Gingrich stepped down, The Washington Post's Tom Edsall was still bemoaning that Gingrich came to power exploiting Lee Atwater's race-baiting techniques. But the Post was nowhere to be found on the Democrats' immoderate last-minute race-baiting.
Remarkably, some thought the smears were peachy. The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page declared on "The McLaughlin Group" that the White House and the Missouri Democrats weren't "race-baiting," but conducting "good grass-roots campaigning...Use love, use fear, use whatever you've got." I suppose this is par for the course for Page, who claimed in 1995 that "most of the KKK has joined the Republican Party." But the national media's utter failure to report - never mind deplore - these last-minute appeals to racial paranoia exposes them for the supine Democratic partisans that they are.
For the Republicans to consider for a moment the media's insincere political advice for the future would be the height of folly.