Monday, October 23, 2006


Lame ducks and republicans

News items like this recent one worry me a little. They don't worry me because of what they're reporting on, as such; in fact, I'll be quite pleased if they're right. No, they worry me because these things have a tendency to be wrong, or perhaps to have an unpleasant backlash.

On desks around the West Wing sit digital clocks counting down the days and hours left in the Bush presidency, reminders to the White House staff to use the time left as effectively as possible. As of 8 a.m. today, those clocks will read 825 days, four hours. But if the elections go the way pollsters and pundits predict, they might as well read 20 days. At least that would be the end of George W. Bush's presidency as he has known it. If Democrats win one or both houses of Congress on Nov. 7, the result will transform the remainder of Bush's time in office and dramatically shift the balance of power in Washington.
They talk in "ifs", of course. If the Dems win, if the Repubs no longer control Congress, if the balance of power changes, if....

They also talk polls, and we're told each day who the polls put ahead of whom. NPR's been doing a series of profiles of the candidates in close races, and talking about Republican incumbents who stand to lose their seats. All good things if they happen, if....

But I worry that favourable news will make people complacent, make them think it's in the bag and that they don't have to vote. I worry that news that's unfavourable to the other side will rally them. I worry about the margin of error. I worry that the polls are just wrong. I worry that all this news coverage of the upcoming Democratic coup de boule will not end up as the coup de grace we're hoping for. I worry about jinxes and Voodoo, broken mirrors and black cats and whatever it was that derailed Howard Dean in Iowa in 2004 (he was top in the polls three days before the caucus, and came out third on the day, which might make anyone scream).

Don't be complacent; be worried. Vote. And then keep your fingers crossed, rub a rabbit's foot, don't step on any cracks.

And definitely don't speak of the devil. He was around here recently, and I can still smell the sulphur.

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