Sorry, Tip O'Neill. All politics aren't local. Sen. Maria Cantwell was re-elected yesterday in great deal because she's a Democrat opposed to George Bush's policies. And congressional hopeful Darcy Burner wasn't elected—so far—because she's a Democrat in a Republican district that isn't opposed to Bush's policies, or at least Rep. Dave Reichert's obedience to them.
The same goes for the Demo takeover of the U.S. House and possibly the Senate. As some voters exiting the polls told the Associated Press, GOP corruption and George Bush's war in Iraq were the primary reasons they threw the Demo rascals in.
Sen. Patty Murray's headline for the Demo sweep was "We got our country back tonight," although it was, of course, she and her fellow Democrats who helped give it away to the GOP in the first place. The one Democratic shining hour on Iraq, for example, came when a majority of House Dems voted against the war resolution in 2002. The Senate? Fuhgetaboutit.
The left-of-the-mountains Washington Democratic congressmen predictably were swept back into office for similar reasons, racking up lopsided totals— Norm Dicks (71 percent of the vote), Jay Inslee (70 percent), Rick Larsen and Adam Smith (66 percent), Brian Baird (64 percent), and Baghdad Jim McDermott his usual astonishing 80 percent. Can he save us all time in 2008 and just skip the next election?
Likewise, an increasing number of Democratic state legislative candidates were winning here, giving the Dems an ever-larger majority in Olympia under a Democratic governor.
Conversely, in Eastern Washington, Bush Country, Rep. Doc Hastings, who might have wound up House speaker if his Republican Party hadn't lost its edge, got a comfortable 57 percent of the southeast Washington vote, while GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris got 54 percent in her duel with rancher Peter Goldman to represent the northeast state.
With politically contentious Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi now penciled in as the historic first woman speaker of the House, the question is what next? George Bush may have a few conciliatory words today, and Bush's brain Karl Rove is already promising to be nice. Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down as Secretary of Poorly Planned Wars. But it's a little like the scene from The Candidate, when Robert Redford's character is, amazingly, elected. "What do we do now?" he asks. Nobody knows.
Resolving the war should be a priority, since impeachment is out—Bush has made himself impeachment-proof with Dick Cheney as his successor. But only the most optimistic think there will be a sudden healing of deep wounds.
Throughout last night's horse-race TV coverage, ex-NBC anchor Tom Brokaw rose above the clamor to remind other talking heads and politicos what he heard again and again from voters he met in the American heartland:
They want the fighting to end. Not just in Iraq, but in D.C.