Election

Quite a result from the mid-term election. The voters were cranky, as I think they had a right to be. Rumsfeld saw the writing on the wall and got out. Or, he was pushed out. Who knows. The choice of Gates is a bit odd. The hearings to confirm him will probably go a long ways towards figuring out where we are headed in Iraq.

With divided government, oddly, more gets done. The sharply partisan issues have to go on the back burner and more practical matters, the areas where some agreement between the party can be forged, supercede.

One of my students made a sharp observation: How many of those Republicans who were defeated in the House and Senate came in under the Contract With America in 1994, in which they stated they would only stay in office 12 years anyway? I wish I could find out.

Divided government resulted in budget surpluses in the 1990s. Perhaps it will result in some fiscal discipline now, although the combination of the free-spending Bush with the usually free-spending Democrats doesn't bode well.

For once, the Democrats recruited some strong candidates. James Webb of Virginia is really sharp, although he probably is a bit temperamental to go any higher. The candidate in Montana, Jon Tester, buzz-cut and all, a farmer and butcher, seems like a delightful guy.

The Republicans were stuck with some lame incumbents. They will come back stronger in two years once they cut out the dead wood. Power held too long breeds complacency. They have nobody to blame for this loss but themselves.

On the state level, Democrat Mike Hatch managed to lose despite it being a Democratic year. His problem is one of personality. Pawlenty was pushed over the top simply because he's a nicer guy, I think. Hatch gets prickly. He's also a little mean. I think Hatch would have been an effective governor, but Pawlenty had the personality.

Amy Klobuchar is probably going to be a big improvement over the somewhat bizarre Mark Dayton. I think being raised with all that money cost Dayton some perspective. He didn't seem to know what to do with the office of Senator once he got it. I don't think he's ever run anything in his life--he is simply an heir, and that doesn't prepare you for doing anything but being an heir. Sort of like poor Prince Charles.

Most importantly, we are now going to have some meaningful debate on some of the big issues. Torture of detainees. It should have been debated out loud in front of everybody long ago. The war in Iraq. Habeus corpus. Wiretapping. All these issues should now be brought to the fore. I am relying upon the Democrats to go digging.

Let's watch as the Constitution works just as Madison intended.