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11.02.10

10 Election Night Truths

Palin lost some of her kingmaker aura. Endorsing Obama's agenda wholeheartedly proved fatal. And California and New York are weird. Tunku Varadarajan sifts the returns for the lasting lessons of 2010.

My personal political digestive system is still processing the delicious repast served up Tuesday night, so here is a series of early observations. Call them "unsound" bites, if you will.

1. Sarah Palin has lost some her sheen after the wholly avoidable pounding suffered by the Republican Christine O'Donnell, and the defeat of Sharron Angle. Does Palin now regret bouncing a perfectly electable Republican candidate from the Delaware state primaries? One would love to bore into her heart for an answer. (I suspect that she does regret it, but will never admit it.)

2. Tom Perriello's loss in Virginia will offer a bitter lesson to Democrats. Offer voters the full Obama menu at your peril. What is more, having the president campaign for you doesn't guarantee victory in a tough House race (or even in a Senate race, as Alexi Giannoulias will testify). On the contrary...if the economy hasn’t picked up steam by 2012, watch Democrats say "No thank you" in droves to their president.

3. Joe Manchin offers up a potentially subversive counter-method to Perriello's: Turn your back on Obama and you stand a chance of getting elected. ("Going Manchin" could enter the Democratic lexicon, as could "Don't do a Perriello!")

4. Marco Rubio will go far. Gracious in victory, he was elegantly non-hubristic in his evaluation of the Republican gains in this election. Don't discount him as a running-mate for the Republican presidential nominee in 2012: after all, how priceless for the GOP is an electable, "post-racial" Hispanic? More likely, he will be honing his skills for 2016.

5. California and New York are, truly, at odds with the rest of America. Their economies are so large that their politics has been captured in an iron grip by the unions. At least California has a semblance of two-party politics; New York, by contrast, is quite Third World in its asphyxiating, uniparty dominance (a dominance that was abetted, this time, by the most embarrassing Republican candidate in the history of the state).

6. Thank God for Rob Portman: His election ensures that a robustly intellectual free-trader will have a seat in the Senate, all the better to combat the likely Democratic protectionism that awaits us in the run-up to 2012. (I'm delighted to report that Pat "Club for Growth" Toomey will be there, too, to support him.)

Thank God for Rob Portman: His election ensures that a robustly intellectual free-trader will have a seat in the Senate, all the better to combat the likely Democratic protectionism that awaits us in the run-up to 2012.

7. Rand Paul has won, but if his victory speech was any indication, he is a colossal blowhard who takes himself way too seriously. Look forward to his bellowing lines like this throughout his term(s) in the Senate: "Do we believe in the individual, or do we believe in the state?" (Equally unimpressive was Fox News's performance on this election night: On the evidence of the evening, Fox can't handle being "in power." It's much better at opposition sniping.)

8. Just when we were beginning to think that the GOP sweep of the House was a tad anti-climactic, we were treated to the spectacle of John Boehner tearing up as he acknowledged his party's achievement. I've always regarded Boehner as a hack-like automaton, but his unexpected display of emotion augurs well for... I'm not sure what, but let's just say that we'll take him over Nancy Pelosi any day.

9. The GOP has shifted emphatically to the right. What will the Democrats do in response? Will they mimic the GOP and move right, too, or will they tack left (their True North, as it were)? The Democratic side of the House, cleansed of many of its Blue Dogs, is, ironically, likely to be even more liberal than before. If I were a moderate Democrat, I'd be apprehensive.

10. Harry Reid. He squeaked through. An utterly undeserving wretch defeated a neophyte vulgarian. That's democracy. It's also deeply depressing. Over and out.

Tunku Varadarajan is a national affairs correspondent and writer at large for The Daily Beast. He is also the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism at Stanford's Hoover Institution and a professor at NYU's Stern Business School. He is a former assistant managing editor at The Wall Street Journal. (Follow him on Twitter here.)