Maybe I’m just in a bad mood, but if you are a liberal, there aren’t too many reasons to be happy over the election results last night—unless you live in New York City, which overwhelmingly elected its first liberal in 20 years, a guy who isn’t ashamed of his liberalism. Or unless you were a liberal making minimum wage in New Jersey and will soon get a buck-an-hour raise.
Sure, Ken Cuccinelli, a wacky, war-on-women-and-gays right-winger, lost the race for Virginia governor. But he didn’t exactly lose to FDR. He lost to a very flawed Democrat, Terry McAuliffe. And he didn’t exactly lose in a landslide. He lost 47.8% to 45.3%.
By such a margin “our” guy beat a man who, as Mother Jones reported, once requested that a state-issued lapel pin, which featured the half bare-breasted image of the Roman goddess Virtus, be modified so that her left breast was shielded from Christian eyeballs.
By such a margin “our” guy beat a man who thinks that human embryos have rights that trump the rights of the women in which they might reside.
By such a margin “our” guy beat a guy who thought launching a website to help keep Virginians safe from sodomy was a great idea.
By such a margin “our” guy beat a tax-cutter, a gun rights extremist, a man who wanted to take away the citizenship rights of children who are born in the United States to parents without proper documentation.
Yep, that was quite a victory for our guy. And as I write this, it appears that the Attorney General of Virginia will be, uh, a Republican. Well, at least it was very, very close.[UPDATE: Turns out Democrat Mark Herring is now slightly ahead, 49.91% to 49.88%. The point, however, remains.]
The exit polls from Virginia weren’t all that encouraging either, at least to me. McAuliffe won the votes of women by only eight points. Only eight points. There is a war going on against reproductive rights in this country. There is a desire to have the government probe the vaginas of women seeking to exercise those rights and Cuccinelli’s Virginia is leading the way. And you’re telling me that women only gave the Democrat opposing Cuccinelli an eight point margin? Something’s wrong with that picture. Or this picture that I lifted from MSNBC:
Oh, I suppose we should be real happy that a freaky preacher in Virginia, E. W. Jackson, lost the race for lieutenant governor. Remember? Jackson was the one who said, “It was God’s plan to beget the Tea Party,” and:
How in the world can we expect our military to be blessed by the hand of almighty God if we allow our military to become the equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah? God is not pleased.
Tim Murphy, of Mother Jones, said Jackson,
Yep, we ought to be happy that guy lost. Yet that guy, that zealot, may have lost but he got almost a million votes out of 2.1 million cast, amounting to almost 45% of the vote. I dunno, but the fact that 45% of voters in a so-called bellwether state would vote for such a man is a little, well, depressing.
Then there is Chris Christie. He trounced the Democrat in the New Jersey governor’s race. And that Democrat, State Senator Barbara Buono, wasn’t happy about what she characterized as the “betrayal from our own political party.” She was speaking about the bigwigs in the Democratic Party essentially abandoning her by not sending much money her way and, well, I’ll let her tell it:
The Democrat political bosses—some elected, some not—made a deal with this governor, despite him representing everything they’re supposed to be against. They didn’t to it to help the state. They did it out of a desire to help themselves politically and financially.
You know, it’s too bad that a lot of Democrats in New Jersey got in bed with Chris Christie—32% of them crossed over and backed him—and, as Rachel Maddow said, launched his presidential campaign, but it’s worse that a lot of moneyed Democrats refused to get in bed with a real liberal Democrat, one who stood up to the political bully that Christie essentially is.
And perhaps worse of all, President Obama, who received 58% of the vote in New Jersey in 2012, never campaigned for her. He never bothered to to go there and champion her underdog cause. But then when it comes to politics, he tends to shy away from underdogs. Let’s hope that more folks don’t begin to shy away from his underdog, ObamaCare.
In any case, in a strange way it was Barack Obama who helped give Chris Christie a tremendous state and national boost after Hurricane Sandy, a boost that brought many New Jersey Democrats into the Christie fold and made many independents happy to vote for him. It turns out that in New Jersey putting your arm around a Democratic President is good politics, even if that arm is attached to a very conservative Republican.
And Christie is a very conservative Republican. Very conservative. And when he gets the Republican nomination for president in 2016, as I have predicted he will, perhaps then Democrats will regret slipping under the covers with him this year. Perhaps they will regret not at least taking money-backed shots at him in the governor’s race this year.
Politico, that bastion of Beltway journalism, is now calling Christie “a center-right leader who has fought and won on Democratic turf.” Center-right? Yikes again. For his part, in his acceptance speech on Tuesday night Christie revealed that he is clearly going to run for president. And who can blame him? In some ways he is the Ronald Reagan of contemporary Republican politics, a man who is very far right, a man who has the reputation of “working” with Democrats as governor, and a man who can hide his reactionary ideology by running against “Washington,” a Washington that now seems to be hopelessly adrift in a sea of dysfunction.
But perhaps the biggest advantage Christie has, and the reason why Democrats may come to regret their unseemly political liaison with him, is that Christie is a media favorite. Reporters love the guy. They puff him up constantly. They love his confrontational style. They love it when he yells at a teacher who dares to challenge him. They love the idea of him running for president, potentially taking on all those extremist teapartiers via a Clintonesque triangulation strategy, taking on all those folks who think Obama is a Kenyan socialist, who think Obama is a monster, a devil, a man who wants to destroy America.
Chris Christie is not a Tea Party extremist. He gets snubbed by CPAC. Rush Limbaugh doesn’t like him. Christie has snuggled up to President Obama in ways that drive the zealots mad. But behind his unconventional persona, behind the man who struggles with his weight and yells at his detractors, there is a man who doesn’t like unions, who doesn’t like reproductive and gay rights, a man who does like deregulation and tax cuts for the rich, who does like cutting government services and social programs. As I said recently about the triangulating governor,
Christie and a Christie-friendly Congress could change the country in ways Ted Cruz only dreams of.
And that is why, I suppose, I am not all that excited about what happened on Tuesday.