Absolute power.

Well, OK then. Faith restored, balance forthcoming, etc. etc. For the record, I don’t think 2007 promises a geyser of ponies on every lawn, but maybe it serves as a wake-up call.

Nothing demonstrates my state of mind better than my vote in the Michigan governor’s race. Seldom have I pulled a lever with less enthusiasm than I did for Jennifer Granholm yesterday. As I explained earlier in the fall, there is only one issue of concern to Michiganians, and likely will be for some time: Economic development. This state is going through a paroxysm of agony over the draining of good-paying manufacturing jobs, jobs that are likely never coming back. The time is long, long overdue for every business leader and policy maker in the state to be thinking creatively about how we diversify our state’s economy so that we aren’t so dependent on one sector. I don’t expect government to fix the problem, but I expect it to be part of the solution. I expect public office holders to be paying attention.

Granholm’s “plan” for economic recovery hasn’t done squat so far and likely won’t in the future. Dick DeVos spent $40 million of his own money to point this out; for months and months, he’s been advertising on television, pointing this out. She was wide-open and vulnerable.


DeVos didn’t have much of a plan of his own, other than the usual: Tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts. He had no clear answer for how he was going to reconcile these cuts with political reality in Michigan — what do we cut elsewhere? Mumble mumble. Still, he was only pointing out the obvious, and for much of the summer and into the campaign he had a handy lead over Granholm, until she started her own advertising, and his lead shrank to nothing more or less overnight.

And the next words out of his mouth were: Intelligent design.

I was appalled. Rarely have I felt so insulted as a voter. It was flag-burning and Willie Horton all over again.

DeVos advocated Michigan schoolchildren be taught ID in science class. Now. By my reckoning we’ve already fought this battle twice, once on the local level (Pennsylvania) and once on the state (Kansas), and both times the issue was a stunning defeat for the pro-ID camp. Presumably DeVos is not so dumb that he thinks he could just slide this one by the people of Michigan, and knows that even if he could push it through the state board of education, it would lead to yet another months-long, outrageously expensive and ultimately pointless court battle. Recall, again, that we’re in a one-state recession here, unemployment above 7 percent, and Job One is convincing the employers of the 21st century that Michigan will be a good place to do business, with its priorities straight and its workforce well-educated and ready.

Isn’t that just what we don’t need? The third rerun of the Scopes monkey trial? National ridicule, cable-news hot air, the Discovery Institute poobahs testifying again about their “alternative” theory?

You’d think.

So you have to figure DeVos knows this, too. If he believes God made the world according to his design, that’s his business. He can’t possibly think Michigan’s monkey trial would be the third-time charm. And he knows that, in a state as blue/purple as this one, his chances of taking the idea very far are pretty low. So what was he really saying when he said, “Let’s teach ID in science class”? Just this:

Psst, religious right. I’m just like you!

And that, finally, was enough for me to say, uh-uh. Because if there’s one group of people I have, finally, heard quite enough from, it’s those guys. Enough culture warring, please. You see what happens to the art of political compromise when you deal with extremists; you say, “OK, look, no one feels totally hunky-dory about abortion. So let’s sit down together and see what we can do about it.” And their reply is, “There is no compromise. My position is the only moral one available, but while we’ve got you, be advised: Our next fun issue will be to make it perfectly legal for your pharmacist to insert his own pious moralizing into your relationship with your doctor, and make you drive 100 miles to get birth-control pills.”

The Schiavo case was hideous enough — the governor of Florida and U.S. Congress poking their noses into one family’s agony, not to mention the spectacle of Catholic priests going on talk shows to insinuate Michael Schiavo beat his wife into a coma and now wants to finish the job. As though this pathetic woman with her brain turning slowly to pudding was about to wake up one day and say, “Don’t let him finish the job.”

But suppose there was hope for Terri Schiavo, and it lay in stem-cell research. Those same lying priests would have said it was better for her to spend her life flicking her unseeing eyes across the walls of her nursing home than for one 16-cell blastocyst to be used for science. Because to do so would be just like Dr. Mengele’s experiments on twins, don’t you know.

So farewell to those folks, too. Bye, Rick Santorum; dogs everywhere appreciate your interest in their welfare, but alas. (Yes, I know: Bob Casey is pro-life, too. But he’s not Rick Santorum. An improvement.)

And then, finally, there’s the war. Already the airy arguments are beginning. Sniffed HTML warrior James Lileks: “…perhaps it’s possible for a country to win a war with apologies and investigations.” Uh-huh. Funny. Of course, it wasn’t possible for us to win the war with Donald Rumsfeld in charge, either, WHICH WAS THE POINT, AFTER ALL. I could accept the war, opposed to it as I am, if I thought it were being run competently, but it’s the Hurricane Katrina of foreign policy, and instead of accountability, what we get from the Bush administration is: Heckuva job, Brownie! We need more soldiers; what we should be hearing from the 101st Fighting Keyboarders is why the frat-house row at Dartmouth isn’t empty, because all the patriotic young Republicans have marched off to fight in this war they believe so fervently in. But we don’t hear that. We don’t hear much at all, other than, “I guess we’re going to cut and run now.”

Cutting and running makes more sense, at this point, than more wasted American lives. Unless we could put Rummy in body armor and put him on the turret gun of a Humvee, patrolling Tikrit.

So that’s the mood of one voter, today. I’m not exulting over the GOP shellacking, but I am pleased to see they’ve learned about pendulums and what they do. This was a corrective, and it was long overdue.

Posted at 9:34 am in Current events |

35 responses to “Absolute power.”

  1. Bob said on November 8, 2006 at 10:27 am

    Disappointing outcome locally, but I’m not surprised. I’ve gotten quite accustomed to my favored candidates losing, and when they win it’s quite a sense of elation.

    I used to think that I should move to a place where the values of the overall demographic more closely resemble my own, but eventually I came to the realization that it wouldn’t change my life, or anyone else’s, all that much. I just had to learn to manage my need for affirmation and for feeling in control.

    Staying in one of the reddest parts of one of the reddest states, I manage to find satisfaction and fulfillment in occasionally annoying the people whose values I contradict, and once in a great while I actually can actually raise one or two people’s awareness of issues/viewpoints they had never before contemplated. Had I moved to a place like San Francisco or Los Angeles or even Chicago, I might have been assimilated into the introverted, self-absorbed gay microcosm and never been heard from again, part of the abstract, faceless “other” the (self-) righteous rail against.

    I’m gratified that the Republicans have lost control of the House of Representatives. Perhaps the change will force them to recognize the liability of the prostitiution of their party to the religious extremists’ agenda. They may eventually return to pragmatic conservatism, if they can throw off the yoke they have subjected themselves to over the past several years. The change may also give the Democrats a chance to demonstrate that they can govern responsibly, and prove that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t really intend to make same-sex marriage mandatory.

    I’m very concerned, though, that the Democrats will blow their opportunity. They have an uncanny knack for creating humiliating defeat out of can’t-lose circumstances, and Democrats apparently aren’t teflon-coated the way Republicans seem to be.

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  2. Dwight the Troubled Teen said on November 8, 2006 at 10:35 am

    “I’m not exulting over the GOP shellacking”

    “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”

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  3. Judith said on November 8, 2006 at 10:44 am

    Wonderful commentary–wish you were still writing here in Ft. Wayne. You were right that it would be a lightning bolt if Mark Souder would be defeated. So it is bittersweet to see the D’s victories that will hopefully change the course of our country’s policies, while acknowledging that in this district many voters did not compare the two men, but in fear voted against Nancy Pelosi and the possibility that a D agenda would be devasting for many reasons only they can understand.
    Bob is right that the D’s may blow it–how we need more reps like Lee Hamilton who worked with those on both sides of the aisle. Whe have the knowledge and power in the US to work with allies to solve problems if we can get away from tunnel vision.

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  4. brian stouder said on November 8, 2006 at 11:01 am

    I came across a term in a bio of Walt Disney that I really liked – ‘paranoid populism’ – wherein the emphasis is on the fears and prejudices of the little guy, as opposed to ‘classic populism’ wherein the interests of the Little Guy are championed against the big powers and interests.

    The GOP’s paranoid-populist ‘base’ strategy got whipped, which is a good thing.

    I predict the Dems will be disciplined, eschewing an orgy of ‘payback’ (ala the mid-90’s GOP congress) in favor of substantial legislation and governance….because a HUGE election is next up – with no incumbents running for the presidency, and a great chance to either take the senate or else solidify the narrow control of the upper house that they just won.

    In three years people may well look back on how it was in 2005, just after Katrina petered out, and (with genuine wonder)ask “how did we ever let things get to THAT point?”

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  5. Danny said on November 8, 2006 at 11:04 am

    Folks, though I would consider myself a religious conservative, I also realize we live in a pluralistic, secular society. I agree with many of the points made by Nancy made. I’m am soooo not interested in public schools teaching “alternatives” to evolution and leading kids in morning prayers. It would be enough for me if they would just leave off insinuating that evolution is the only possible truth (snidely scoffing at other philosophies) and demanding that elementary school kids need to be taught the whole spectrum of adult sexuality.

    Unfortunately, the GOP, in their agressive pandering to some in the the religious right (probably the hypocrits), has messed everything up and pissed everyone off.

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  6. John said on November 8, 2006 at 11:17 am

    I feel vindicated in a bittersweet way. I’m 44, but I have a number of friends who are in their mid or early 30s. They are all die-hard liberals and were edging out on the ledge looking down at the traffic two years ago. Some were talking about moving to Canada. I remember thinking, “this too shall pass.” And I remember also thinking, “I am officially old.” What I knew and they didn’t was that we were just as depressed – well, almost as depressed – when Reagan was President. I remember looking at people like Jerry Falweel and James Watts and thinking we were doomed. But the pendulum swung. And as I looked at the wreckage after 2004 I honestly felt that the tipping point was close. Now it’s here. And it feels good. I just hope the Dems don’t mess it up. Because the other sinking feeling I have is this: Any Republican you can think of is smarter than W. And he beat us twice. So we better bring our A game.

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  7. Joe Kobiela said on November 8, 2006 at 11:42 am

    So what is the Dems Plan???
    Through the whole election all I heard was Bush is stupid lets tax the wealthy. Now that you have your victory what are you going to do??? As for why arn’t the frat houses empty, the last time I checked, now correct me if I am wrong The Army is a volunteer army, I think that means you do not have to go unless you sign up. I also would argue that the majority of our armed forces are well schooled. I know my niece and her husband both have master degee’s and are lifers. As for Busch being dumb, his grades were better than Kerry’s and he flew a very complex high performance jet fighter. Just because you may not speak the kings english does not make you dumb. Look gang unemployment is 4.4 the market is up and intrust rates are down. there is more money coming into the Tresuary now then ever, low taxes are GOOD, high taxes are BAD, You all won but lets see how things look in 2yrs before we go giving saint hood to the dems.
    Please excuse the spelling, I am just a dumb factory worker and should be in Iraq acording to Mr Kerry, Because I am un educated. Although I can fly a jet
    Cheers from still Republican Auburn In

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  8. Danny said on November 8, 2006 at 11:46 am

    Amen, Joe!

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  9. ashley said on November 8, 2006 at 12:26 pm


    Living in New Orleans, I had a different set of priorities than Americans did for this election. Here’s a 3:11 video that explains what I was looking for out of this federal administration, and did not get.

    Katrina and the failure of the federally built and maintained levees were my litmus test. The GOP failed.

    And Joe, unfortunately for all of us, the days of the GOP being fiscally responsible are gone; and the days of the Dems being the party of social programs are gone. Perhaps the neocons will be expunged from the GOP due to this election, and we will once again see a true conservative party. Perhaps also, we’ll see a plan from the Dems.

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  10. brian stouder said on November 8, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    Leaving specifics aside just for today, it is exhilarating to see the “ins” get pitched out on their ear, yes?

    Life is short enough to justify a smile and to hell with the details for a day or two, eh?

    Like in that scene from Patton – where George C Scott says


    For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph – a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.


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  11. Dorothy said on November 8, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    Just got a CNN breaking news e-mail that Rumsfield is stepping down.

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  12. nancy said on November 8, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    The terrorists have won!

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  13. Danny said on November 8, 2006 at 2:47 pm

    Well, Nancy. We will see. A friend at work told me he was watching Al-Jazerra and that there was a lot of video of celebrations relating to the outcome of the election.

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  14. John said on November 8, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Joe’s post simply cannot go unremarked-upon. I will accept the fact that Bush flew a complicated jet fighter if Joe will accept the fact that, when the day came for the future commander-in-chief’s combat physical, he simply didn’t show up. The word for this is cowardice. He supported the war and lots of kids his age, many of whom didn’t, were dying in it. But they weren’t rich sons of congressmen. W wanted to go to the Harvard Business School. So he did. And no matter what Karl Rove’s swift-boat hatchet men said, Kerry volunteered for combat service, turned his very uncomplicated boat around under enemy fire and pulled a fellow soldier out of the water. That a chckenhawk like Bush could sully the reputation of a decorated veteran is one of the most bizarre and shameful episodes in the history of Presidential politics.
    As for whether our President is dumb, I’m not one of those who say that, even though I think it. Better to run through the litany of his failures. But I will point Joe to Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial,” which I just finished. (And remember, Woodward’s other Bush books have been flattering.) There is a scene in which retired Leut. General Jay Garner, tapped to handle post-war Iraq, sits in the Oval Office, tells the President there is not an adequate plan in place, there are not enough troops committed to the job and that several of the things Bush and Rumsfeld were expecting him to do he would simply not be able to do. He also told them that it was crucial to the post-war effort that the Iraqi army be immediately put to work securing and rebuilding the country. Garner essentially told them their post-war plan, to the extent that they had one, was significantly flawed. Bush’s only responses were these:
    “Just a minute,” the President interrupted. “Where are you from?”
    “Florida, sir.”
    “Why do you talk like that?”
    “Because I was born and raised on a ranch in Florida. My Daddy was a rancher.”
    “You’re in.” the President said.

    And as Garner was leaving, awkwardly, after there were no questions when he’d expected a barrage of them, the President said this:
    “Kick ass Jay.”

    When I think of the lives have been lost because of this man’s incompetence, and the foreign policy problems were are going to have for decades …. I’ll stop now and enjoy the Democratic victory.

    Sorry for the long post.

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  15. a different Connie said on November 8, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    Wow, great post. The old, angry, political Nancy is back. (And I mean that in a good way.)

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  16. brian stouder said on November 8, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    I confess – hearing all the crying, whining, and flatly dishonest interpretations wafting across the office from the likes of Uncle Rush and local talk-radio lip flapper Pat White strike me as particularly (and somewhat oddly)……satisfying! (all the verbal gymnastics and apologias are sorta like the Kama Sutra of political denial)

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  17. mary said on November 8, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    It’s a big day. Rumsfeld’s leaving, Britney kicked out Kevin, Santorum’s looking for work, and I got a fax from a nurse recruiter named Joseph Buttafuoco.
    It’s all good.

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  18. Jeff said on November 8, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    As Danny and i hope to show by our comments (heck, by our presence here), religious conservatives aren’t all that monolithic. We’re a fairly fractured conglomerate with only a few issues of common consensus, and no leaders to speak of, other than a reflexive respect for Billy Graham. Most of the clergy i have contact with have been “Haggard? Who is he?” the last few weeks, and have long carried a heavy load of suspicion about Dobson’s desire to be our pied piper.

    Ohio still has a big religious conservative base, and they voted for a non-attending former minister over the red meat conservative — i suspect there’s more racism than sincere policy analysis in many R’s who voted against Blackwell, but they also voted in a number of D’s for House seats and even shrugged at state wide seats (helping Nancy’s friend Judge Brunner over the top, too), but voted for the state auditor candidate who foregrounded her CPA credentials over party.

    We’re party oriented, but not party committed. Quite a few of us are pro-civil union, which annoys our putative leaders, even as we vote against expanding the definition of marriage; we are pro-fiscal management even if it loses us bridges to nowhere in our own districts, but voted for a minimum wage amendment holding our noses about the consititutional skankiness of how it would be implemented.

    Our self-proclaimed leaders (think Rod *coff* Parsely *coff*) thought we would hold our noses and vote R, instead, showing how well those shepherds know their flocks.

    Anyhow, there are few generalizations that hold across religious conservatives, Intelligent Design being a great example. Most of “us” think it is prima facie silly, let alone wrong for schools and science classrooms. But the idea that we’ll vote for any old creationist-anti-gay gasbag should be well and truly buried by this election, i would hope.

    In Grace & Peace,

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  19. ashley said on November 8, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Oh, and Hastert will not seek a leadership position in the minority party.

    It looks like a lot of Hastert could be bulldozed…unlike New Orleans.

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  20. Danny said on November 8, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    It looks like a lot of Hastert could be bulldozed…unlike New Orleans.

    Hoy crap, Ashley. You ARE a quote machine. That was brilliant!

    Jeff, your comments above are very, very well put and much appreciated.

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  21. Candy Schultz said on November 8, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    I really hated voting for Granholm also but had no choice. I have issues with her handling of the “shoot first” bill. I do think there is a lot more blame to be laid at the feet of the auto industry. They have known for thirty years that oil would be an issue and they have pretty much ignored it. As for the results of yesterdays election, I am cautiously optimistic. If Bill Clinton were President I would relax. The rest of them have a long way to go to convince me they can stand up and lead.

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  22. Joe Kobiela said on November 8, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    I enjoy a little back and forth, its good, but after reading the above post the question still stands, What is your plan???
    As for W’s military, remember at the time he was flying, his job was to intercept and shoot down soviet bombers coming in to our airspace, remember this was considered a very serious threat. As for not finishing his commitment, I think you should ask Dan Rathers about that. He seems to have some time on his hands since,he was fired over the FALSE documents about Bushes military service.
    I also think Woodword would write whatever will sell.
    The next 2 yrs should be fun.

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  23. mary said on November 8, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    What happened to Dan Rather does not mean that Bush finished his military service. It means that Dan Rather had a sloppy researcher.
    I don’t remember the serious threats of Soviet Bombers invading Texas airspace via Mexico in the late sixties and early seventies. I remember people who were connected going into national guard units to avoid being drafted and sent to Viet Nam. That I remember very clearly.

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  24. Jim in Fla said on November 8, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    Ok. The “military documents” were false. Agreed.

    Bush still has never explained why he lost his pilot certification.

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  25. Jim said on November 8, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    I don’t understand why so many Republicans think jumping off a cliff is better than doing nothing at all. This is the most incompetent and corrupt administration of my lifetime. And it has gotten to the point where even the Republicans don’t deny it, they simply say, “So? What’s your plan? You have something better than our corruption and incompetence?”

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  26. Mona said on November 8, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    I agree with much of what you write about the election. However, may I remind you that Governor Granholm has been working with a Republican Legislature the last four years? I know many Republicans who voted for her because of their disgust with the Legislature. Also, she inherited a real financial mess from Engler and the auto industry was floundering before she took office.
    Let us be fair and see how she governs with at least the Michigan House going Democratic.

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  27. Marcia said on November 9, 2006 at 10:33 am

    Jeff, great post, although I disagree that racism played much of a part in Blackwell’s defeat. I posted why I didn’t vote for him here.

    I stopped by your blog–nice, but you should allow comments.

    Ashley, quote machine, you rule.

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  28. Marcia said on November 9, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    Oops, Nancy, did I get that Steve Rose column from you initially? If so, I’m sorry; you can remove the comment above if you would like.

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  29. DebM said on November 9, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    This photo says it all. Santorum family. While I have pity for anyone in this much distress..you just have to see the fact that this MUST be the Repblican Addams Family. Note the matching dresses of the doll and the daughter as well as…oh you’ll see.


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  30. nancy said on November 9, 2006 at 2:11 pm


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  31. Marcia said on November 9, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    Oh, dear.

    Hey, that reminds me, does anyone want to see the Duggars sing?

    You know you do.

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  32. ashley said on November 9, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    MY EYES!!! MY EYES!!!

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  33. mary said on November 9, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    I feel so guilty for loving that photo.

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  34. Laura said on November 10, 2006 at 12:28 am

    Marcia, Blackwell lost because he is a whack job.

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  35. Marcia said on November 10, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Laura, that, too.

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