Whose Heads Will Roll on Nov. 5?
John McCain’s failure may set a new record since World War II for Republican losses, and first on the chopping block will be his aides. Next up? Swing state turncoats.
Early indications point to ruthless purges of the Republican Party by my colleagues in the VRWC (vast right-wing conspiracy) if the present polling numbers prove consistent and the GOP is swept away by a tsunami from East to West. First to be arrested in their rooms will be McCain aides Mark Salter, Steve Schmidt, and Rick Davis, the trio responsible for the defeatist decision to send the candidate rushing to Washington at the end of September, calling off the first incoherent debate for a few hours, and then ignoring the will of his own party in the House and the passionate voices of the Republican voters online and siding with the Democrats on the reckless, opaque, dictatorial Paulson bailout plan. Schmidt and flack Nicolle Wallace have already been notified they will be sent to the Sarah Palin camp for special tortures before they are thrown down the steps. Soon after the McCain camp will come the liquidation of the Republican National Committee the inert Mike Duncan, Jo Ann Davidson, Frank Donatelli, Carly Fiorina, and their slow-footed aides. This deletion is well advanced. There are no signs the RNC flacks will attempt to flee when the Praetorian guards knock, but if they do, it will only drag out the inevitable.
All Republican members of the Senate will be sent arrest warrants, and only those shrewd enough to send them back with the names of the conspirators will be spared.
In Rome at the time of the paranoid (and misunderstood) Emperor Tiberius, the secret police chief Sejanus liked to make a doomed senator’s estate pay endless ransom demands while the victim withered in Aegean exile—and the fellow was strangled if the money stopped. The bloodletting in the state committees will be less appalling in the first few months, but by the new year there will be vacancies across the red states and closed offices in the blue states. Ohio and Florida will be singled out for public decapitations, but add to this any of the battlegrounds that fall away from the red map, such as Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, and Nevada. The charge will be insufficient loyalty, and the victims will be required to confess before they are eliminated. The purges will not be just. Anyone who took money from the McCain camp or the national party, anyone who bundled for McCain, anyone at all involved in a losing congressional campaign will be put on the exile list. The whole state of Arizona may be under house arrest for suspicion of disloyalty. Jon Kyl of Arizona will not be safe despite his wit. In fact, imitating the methods of Sejanus after 25 A.D., all Republican members of the Senate will be sent arrest warrants, and only those shrewd enough to send them back with the names of the conspirators will be spared. What conspirators, you ask? This is the genius of a Sejanus-style purge. You are condemned until you denounce someone else as guilty, so to survive you must act swiftly and with heart. There is a report now that Senate Republicans who are not up for election this cycle are meeting with party wise men to negotiate a truce for the 111th Congress. This ploy will fail, especially for those surviving senators in states where a Republican seat has been lost, such as New Hampshire, Mississippi, or Alaska. There is a special show trial awaiting Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Phil Gramm of UBS. Joe Lieberman seems safe because he is now a party of two, along with the humiliated and plumber-obsessed John McCain, if and when he returns to his dusty Senate seat.
John McCain’s failure may set a new record since World War II for Republican losses. Random quotes point to losses in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. This seems far-fetched at the moment; however, the nature of massacres is that they go too far. McCain seems safe to take enough of the South that he will not suffer an Alf Landon-scale defeat—in 1936, FDR defeated the Kansas governor 523 electoral votes to 8. But if it goes in the direction of the bug-eyed panic among McCain flacks, Barack Obama could approach 400 electoral votes.
The disaster will not spare the children or the innocent. No one named Bush or McCain will be welcome until the next convention, and only then as a novelty exhibit. All Cabinet members present and past are marked for exile, and some, like Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are already negotiating with the Democrats for sanctuary. There is a portico in Hades for Hank Paulson and his Goldman Sachs macro pirates, and no one left in the party will object if there is a show trial of everyone at Treasury and the Fed the weekend of September 26-28, when the lies were thick as thieves. Ben Bernanke? There is an extradition treaty with Princeton.
The extremes of the purge will come after the McCain camp is disappeared, and the Bush flicker fades, and the party turns to punishing the leadership in the House of Representatives for the stupidity of the bailout votes. House leadership elections are scheduled for mid-November. Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri will be strangled on the spot, and his deputies have been warned their youth will not spare them. The facilely contrite Eric Cantor is crawling the halls of Congress right now begging for a second chance after his betrayal on the bailout. Minority Leader John Boehner has been told his show trial will feature public denunciations of his deceptions and the vulgar threats he made to members with consciences. In wonderfully Roman style, the accusers are also the judges—the 111 House members who voted “no” on the Paulson folly on September 29 and then voted “no” again to the Paulson folly larded with $150 billion on October 3. The leader of the judges in the House is Mike Pence of Indiana, who is advanced like Maximus Decimus Meridius as the new general for the gladiatorial remnant in the 111th Congress. What survives of the 111 in the 111th will soon face down the new Commodus on Pennsylvania Avenue.
In the Senate, if Mitch McConnell survives in Kentucky, the senators may be too dehydrated by the purge trials to challenge his obtuse collaborationist temper; however, treacherous figures such as the preening Chuck Hagel, moving from Nebraska to the pet Republican on Meet the Press, and collaborators like Richard Lugar of Indiana, Susan Collins of Maine, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania make any Senate decision suspect and useless. Also, John McCain will be in the Senate for a while, sheltering fugitives from the Praetorians for a while; and then the expectation is that he will depart to Hooverville, to be replaced by a man with a backbone and a sense of hearing named Jeff Flake.
The purge may hesitate at putting John McCain on show trial. Bob Dole had the good sense to obsolesce himself, now likely joined by the worn-out Liddy Dole. Sejanus would have asked Livilla’s help in choosing slow poisons. Tiberius, when he finally awakened and counter-attacked Sejanus, did not hesitate to execute every real or imagined enemy as soon as possible. A few completely innocent victims perks up the executioners. No predictions here. The VRWC prosecution is not merciful. The purge will begin rationally but will soon move to chaos. Media figures will be treated as blindly guilty for an indefinite time. Karl Rove is a hard target but not impossible in the mass arrest phase. Anyone from Texas is presumed cursed. Purges must go too far, because extreme capriciousness is what stops the frenzy. Good advice to the Republican professionals and their flacks, from the Roman wise men once upon a time: Do whatever you must just to last out the darkness visible.
John is the radio host of the John Batchelor Show in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles.