Grasping at Straws, Early and Late

After months of following the horserace with bated breath, the blogosphere convulsed with post after jittery post on Election Day itself. Throughout the day and into the evening, gullible bloggers rode the rollercoaster, with both gleeful liberals and despairing conservatives taking fatally-flawed early exit polls at face value. The latter stepped off said rollercoaster now and then only to hurl into a bush before feverishly hopping back on.

Over at The Corner, it was the night of the reactionary (in every sense of the word) post. Round after round of random observations, impatient rhetorical questions, and jubilant exclamations were fired off in stream-of-conscious one-liners, as the righty bloggers staggered through the wee hours of the morning — some with mini-bar in tow.

Kevin Drum managed to buck the trend a bit with a reflective moment in his post on the electoral landscape. He noted that not many reds or blues flip-flopped from 2000, leaving us “almost exactly where we were four years ago,” and observed that 9/11, which might have been “a catalyst that blows apart existing political dynamics and realigns the electorate,” instead “cemented it into place.” He wondered: “It hardly seems possible that this can last forever, but if 9/11 didn’t realign the electorate, what will?”

At 1:12 am, Andrew Sullivan deemed it time to concede the race, and urged everyone to pile aboard the Bush buggy: “The past is the past. And George W. Bush is our president. He deserves a fresh start, a chance to prove himself again … He needs our prayers and our support for the enormous tasks still ahead of him. He has mine. Unequivocally.” Sullivan proclaims: “I’m a big believer in the deep wisdom of the American people. They voted in huge numbers, and they made a judgment. Not a huge and decisive victory by any means. But at least a victory that is unlikely to be challenged.”

In the wee hours this morning, Matthew Yglesias was ready to give in to the Eeyore in him, expressing frustration with the voters’ apparent rejection of Democrats on “values” questions. Having moodily pushed this observation around on his plate, he throws up his hands at what to do about this “puzzler” and resolves to “read what some other smart people have to say about it.” Some shut-eye did not improve Yglesias’ outlook, as he greeted us this morning with a cold prediction: “With a majority of the popular vote and expanded margins in the House and Senate, we’re going to see Bush Unleashed — something that will probably be much crazier than what we’ve seen over the past four years.”

James Wolcott is not taking defeat well either. He turns himself into a punching bag: “I was wrong. Wrong in my hopes, my expectations, and my sense of where the country is. Writers I’ve mocked about the election and Bush’s popular hold — Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Victor Davis In Excelsis Deo Hanson, et al. — have earned their bragging rights, and they’re welcome to them.” This self-inflicted battering out of the way, he bitterly proclaims: “I’m not depressed, being filled with far too much healthy loathing for millions of my fellow Americans to let myself droop,” and ominously warns that America now looks like “a grinning aggressor to the Arab world, an aggressor with fresh marching orders.”

Faced with such palpable lefty misery, some heavyweights on the right were making an attempt at graciousness, such as Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds and Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner. Others couldn’t restrain their urge to revert to seventh grade (led by Jonah Goldberg’s infantile jabs, such as: “Hey France: Sucks to be you.”).

But resolutely tossing the Kleenex aside, Meteor Blades at Daily Kos turned up early this morning to offer some reflective words of wisdom to dejected donkey troops, proclaiming the need to rally from the depths of despair in order to fight the trend towards “Americanist authoritarianism emerging out of the country’s current leadership.” The Meteor goes historical with a stoic, thou-shalt-not-be-flattened message: “It’s tough on the psyche to be beaten. Throughout our country’s history, abolitionists, suffragists, union organizers, anti-racists, anti-warriors, civil libertarians, feminists and gay rights activists have challenged the majority of Americans to take off their blinders.” Warriors to the end, “we need to spit out our despair and return — united — to battling those who have for the moment outmaneuvered us.”

“For the moment?” Can you say “for the past four years,” boys and girls? Vowing to rise from the ashes is a noble impulse; denial is just a human one.

Susanna Dilliplane

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Susanna Dilliplane is a contributor to CJR.