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As the smoke settles...

Posted: November 4, 2010 5:59 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Musings after an election season that lasted far too long:

• Here in Camden, you’ll soon be able to buy beer and panty hose on Sunday. The voters have spoken, and Ben Franklin would be proud.

• In 2008, political pundits declared the Republican Party dead. President Obama’s victory, and the wave of Democratic successes that year, led many self-proclaimed experts to declare that a new generation of Democratic dominance had begun, an era that could last for decades.

Tuesday, only two years later, voters adopted the strongest GOP “throw the bums out” mentality since 1938. There’s a lesson in this: don’t get too smug, Republicans. You could get tossed out with the bathwater in 2012.

• The national media are beside themselves, wallowing in paroxysms of grief over the Republican whitewash. Major newspapers and the three traditional TV networks are swathed in black crepe, deep in mourning. And at the same time that they’re wringing their hands and wiping their tears, they’re declaring their neutrality and defending their “objective news judgment.”  You decide.

• This was as much a referendum on Nancy Pelosi as Barack Obama.

• Doubt that the American people are fed up with their government? Consider:

Nearly 74 percent of voters disapprove of the job Congress is doing; 50 percent disapprove of the president’s performance; 67 percent disapprove of both the Democratic and Republican parties; and 64 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

• Democratic leaders in Congress refuse to admit that their health care plan is vastly unpopular in this country. It helped get the party where it is today, which is underneath a culvert.

• A fourth of the electorate thought Alvin Greene was a pretty good candidate, eh?

• Poor California. The state will now be governed by Jerry Brown, who was called “Governor Moonbeam” when he served as the state’s chief executive nearly four decades ago. He is wackier than ever. Don’t expect the state’s finances to improve anytime soon.

• Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, spent $140 million of her own money trying to beat Brown. A hundred and forty million dollars. Say it slowly. Roll it over your tongue. She is nuts.

• In comparison with Whitman, Linda McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment fame went easy on the family fortune, plunking down only $50 million of her own dough to lose a Connecticut Senate election to Richard Blumenthal, who claimed he served in Vietnam when in reality he never got close to that country. She probably feels like somebody’s got her in a Figure Four Grapevine hold.

• Nissary Wood first defeated David Herndon by one vote in their race for the Kershaw County School Board. As of Thursday morning, however, some previously uncounted absentee ballots gave Herndon one more vote. Maybe the remaining emergency, failsafe and provisional ballots will break this tie. There’s a lesson in that, one you probably learned in civics or American government class, but you’ve already been told so I’m not going to say it again.

• Republican newcomer Stephen Fincher stomped his opponent in Tennessee’s Eighth Congressional District. Part of Fincher’s campaign preparation included a stint at Camden’s Buckley School of Public Speaking. He hails from Frog Jump, Tenn., and he’s a combination farmer/gospel singer, which was a perfect combination in this 2010 election.

• Bill Clinton’s still a drawing card, and he worked his buns off for the Democratic Party, campaigning across the country. Hey, even staunch Republicans have to admit he’s a darned likeable guy. But he’s looking kind of old, don’t you think? (Remember: Monica Lewinsky is almost 40.)

• What is it about Congress that makes people want to stay there forever? John Spratt’s one of the brightest guys in Washington, but he’s been there 28 years, far too long. He’s always been a class guy, but his election night refusal to concede defeat to Mick Mulvaney, despite incontrovertible evidence from poll returns, reeked bush league.

• Speaking of staying too long, think how well this country would work if senators got one eight-year term while the president and members of the House of Representatives got a single six-year term. They’d never have to run for re-election and maybe they’d do what was right rather than what was politically expedient.

• South Carolina has too long been a political whipping boy for the rest of the country. (Think John Jenrette, Abscam, Lost Trust, Mark Sanford.)  The election of the country’s first minority female governor could cast a positive light on the state. Nikki Haley has a big opportunity in front of her. Hope she doesn’t blow it.

• This country works best with a divided government. The House of Representatives will be controlled by the GOP, with the Senate narrowly run by the Democrats. Maybe they can get it right. Don’t count on it.

• And finally, a sobering thought for you: the pols with 2012 White House aspirations have already started jostling for position. Is that depressing or what?

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