Of Bush's role, [Trent Lott] said on NBC's Today show: "I think it was a referendum on his leadership and he really showed that he was committed that he was willing to put his prestige on the line."
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., glumly acknowledged, "This was one tough night," and said the war on terrorism and the prospect of war with Iraq drowned out what the Democrats were trying to say about the shaky economy.
"The president made that his drumbeat," Daschle said. "It resonated."
In this election, many liberal spectators expected the voters say to Washington, "It's the economy, stupid!" and deliver the House and/or Senate into the hands of the Democrats. Instead, the voters said, with a loud, clear voice: "It's the war, stupid!"
That the Democratic leadership is intellectually and morally bankrupt is apparent to most. Still the voice of loyal opposition in the national debate is greatly comprised now that the G.O.P has hegemony in the Executive and Legislative branches. There is no longer any doubt: America is going to War.
The outrage of September 11 and ennui of a stagnant economy have been channelled into the march towards war -- a war that will oust one dictator at the cost of creating dozens or hundreds of new Anti-American terrorists. This dubious victory will cost the US dearly in European and Asian goodwill. Perhaps flushed by the "success" of the Iraq campaign (itself born on the heels of the "success" in Afghanistan), the US will turn its undeniably awesome military might towards North Korea and even Iran.
All this will cost the US taxpayer dearly, despite Bush's promises to cut taxes. After all, wars costs money. With the economy barely breathing, tax revenue will be lower than recent years making the cost of these wars very dear. The war chest will need to be refilled from other government programs, like those not favored by the Republicans. Without mending the economy, the US could easily go the way of the former U.S.S.R., spending its way out of existence.
There is another omnious message that this mid-term election carries. Bush assumed office under the most dubious of circumstances and yet he has cajoled and patronized the opposition into doing his bidding as if he were swept into power on the crest of a massive voter landslide. If Bush had no mandate from the people before this mid-term election, he's got it now. Expect the very thin and cynical veneer of bipartisanship of Bush's first two years to go the way of the Dodo. That warning goes double for the UN.
The US isn't the only country whose conservative element is in bloom. Both Turkey and Pakistan elected Islamic parties into power (although Turkey's AK party is not so fundamentalist as the six Pakistani groups). In France, Germany and the Netherlands, isolationist groups are making strong showings in elections. When everyone believes they are divinely right, there is no room for comprimise.
The 2004 election is now Bush's game to lose. The Democrats, baring Jesus Christ, Moses or Muhammad registering with the party, have no credible candidate to run against Bush. In the next two years, we will witness every program and policy change that Bush and the Republicans have ever wanted. Some of these changes probably will be for the better. Most will not. In 2012 during the last years of Sino-American war, what historians remain will identify now as the point when it all went to hell in a handbasket.
Two party systems are so 1998.