I attach for your linking pleasure columns from Thomas L. Friedman, Maureen Dowd and William Safire on the U.S. election, plus a bonus editorial:
Maureen Dowd: The Red Zone
W. doesn’t see division as a danger. He sees it as a wingman.
The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule. He doesn’t want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel.
W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq – drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or “values voters,” as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.
Ms. Dowd also hits the highlights of some of the new Republican senators!
Thomas L. Friedman: Two nations under God
I often begin writing columns by interviewing myself. I did that yesterday, asking myself this: Why didn’t I feel totally depressed after George H. W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis, or even when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore? Why did I wake up feeling deeply troubled yesterday?
Answer: whatever differences I felt with the elder Bush were over what was the right policy. There was much he ultimately did that I ended up admiring. And when George W. Bush was elected four years ago on a platform of compassionate conservatism, after running from the middle, I assumed the same would be true with him. (Wrong.) But what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don’t just favor different policies than I do – they favor a whole different kind of America. We don’t just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is. …
I’ve always had a simple motto when it comes to politics: Never put yourself in a position where your party wins only if your country fails. This column will absolutely not be rooting for George Bush to fail so Democrats can make a comeback. If the Democrats make a comeback, it must not be by default, because the country has lapsed into a total mess, but because they have nominated a candidate who can win with a positive message that connects with America’s heartland.
William Safire – Lopsided government
Can Bush stick to principles that elected him while taking some of the poison out of the political atmosphere? The atrophy of the usual checks and balances requires a certain internal restraint.
Danger comes from the temptation to bull ahead that awaits lopsided government. Bush has the re-legitimated White House power backed up by a more rightist House of Representatives, now bolstered by a Senate with a 55-to-45 Republican majority. On top of that array of political muscle, a Supreme Court already tilted slightly rightward will soon be ready for an infusion of new justices.
This imbalance will ultimately trigger Rayburn’s law: “When you get too big a majority,” said Speaker Sam Rayburn, a Democrat, after F.D.R.’s 1936 landslide, “you’re immediately in trouble.”
Editorial: The next President Bush
To us, the central domestic issue of the next term will be the Supreme Court, and Mr. Bush’s nomination to replace the seriously ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The president could pick a respected jurist of centrist temperament with a genuine belief in judicial restraint, or he could pick someone in the ultra-extreme school of Justice Antonin Scalia. Mr. Bush’s social conservative base will be pressing in one direction, and will no doubt remind him that the election turned heavily on social issues, particularly opposition to abortion and gay marriage.
The evidence in the polling data that these social issues were crucial to Mr. Bush’s win – and that the bulk of those infrequent voters who stood in line for hours to vote were evangelicals, not people against the war – is pretty inescapable. But we were struck by the broad majority of voters who told pollsters that they favored a middle approach on these issues: providing gay couples with the right to have some kind of civil unions, and guaranteeing women the right to legal abortions in most, if not all, cases. This page will never give up our commitment to women’s right to reproductive choice, as well as full civil rights for people of all sexual orientations. But a leader who was prepared to make political sacrifices in order to stake a claim to that middle ground could be laying the foundation for a new national consensus that might finally bring the nation’s social wars to an end.
Mr. Bush could be that leader. He could be the uniter he promised to be, then failed to become, four years ago. He could put an end to a period in national history when too many people go to the polls on Election Day convinced that victory for the other side would mean disaster for the nation. A lot of voters felt that way on Tuesday, and now Mr. Bush has the chance to show them they were wrong.
And here’s a post explaining why none of the above opinions matter — to Bush supporters, anyways.