Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mandatory post-election comments.

The Bush press conference just ended. He handled it better than I expected. The cockiness and the smirk were gone, though the customary jocularity broke through a few times. He seemed contrite, but not by any means abject.

He was best at handling attempts to embarrass him by citing campaign rhetoric, both Democratic and his own, and asking him how he could work with the new legislative leadership based on what had been said. He was also deft in handling questions arising from his assertion to three reporters, a few days before the election, that Rumsfeld would stay at Defense.

He did artfully dodge one question, which was about disillusion on the part of religious conservatives with his administration. He pretended not to know what the questioner meant, then mumbled something about his continued commitment to "faith-based initiatives" relating to social services. He wasn't about to be drawn into a discussion about abortion, stem-cell research and gay marriage.

About the last mentioned, Glenn Reynolds and I find our libertarian instincts in agreement.

This year, it's Virginia's turn in the barrel. I hope the Old Dominion handles it better than my old home Sunshine State did in 2000.

No surprises here in New York, except maybe Hevesi's margin of victory despite his ethical lapse, which I think many viewed as simply business as usual in Albany. I was surprised, however, on scanning the voting machine, to find that an old friend I had lost touch with several years back was the Green Party candidate for Attorney General (on a ticket headed by the founder of the Bells of Hell).

Update: Jacob Weisberg, in Slate, finds a dark lining on the silver cloud: many newly-elected Democrats are economic nationalists.

Counterpoint: Kausfiles, in a critique of Weisberg's article, links to an excellent post on Real Clear Politics by former Oklahoma Democratic Congressman Brad Carson. Carson's argument is that illegal immigration (Kaus's fave hobby horse for the past several months) is greatly amplifying the negative effects of globalization on America's large body of unskilled and semi-skilled labor market participants, and making us liberals' preferred palliatives (short-term adjustment grants, minimum wage increases and, most importantly, increased funding for education and retraining) both less effective and more expensive. An unstated conclusion is that this is likely to lead to increased pressure for protectionism in markets for goods and non-labor services.