The headline of this story was an adage of my father’s. I remember it from a time before I knew what a lead-pipe cinch meant and I heard about it when I believed that most things my dad said were dead wrong. Now that I am in my mid-50s I have come to understand how often he was right.
I have been thinking about what my dad said because everything indicates that the GOP is certain to roll up a big victory in less than a week. Acclaimed pollster Scott Rasmussen last night predicted that Republicans will gain 55 seats in races for the U.S. House of Representatives Nov. 2; much more than the 39 needed for a Republican majority in the House for the first time since 2006.
That is not all. According to Rasmussen, the Senate Republicans should have 48 seats with the Democrats holding 47. Another five seats could slide either way, Rasmussen has said.
I am praying that Rasmussen is correct and we will be delivered a Republican victory; one that will launch a two-year countdown on President Barack Obama’s eviction from the White House. Still, you will have to excuse me if I don’t put the champagne on ice just yet.
After all, it is hard to forget the big story on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2000. At 8 p.m. the Voter News Service — a group pooling the resources of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox and The Associated Press — called the state of Florida for Al Gore. What followed was this from Peter Jennings of ABC, “Al Gore wins the state of Florida and its 25 electoral votes.”
Two hours later the networks took another look and decided that it was too soon to tell whether Florida and with it the Presidency belonged to Gore.
At CBS, Dan Rather blamed the mistake on technology. “To err is human," Rather said, "but to really foul up requires a computer… If you’re disgusted with us, frankly, I don’t blame you."
Let’s face it, ever since odds-makers refused to set a betting line on Moses making it out of Egypt, experts have gotten plenty of things wrong. And while victory for the GOP in next week’s midterm elections is a crucial step in defeating Obama in 2012, it is far too early to plan that celebration.
First off, this election has a cast of characters unlike any witnessed. There is Ohio Republican Rich Iott who was photographed while dressed in Nazi SS garb which he was wearing to connect with his son. And let’s not forget Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal who has repeatedly lied about serving in Vietnam. And it is not just the newcomers that are bizarre.
One race for Senate could be made into a novel except no one would believe it. Democratic incumbent and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was quoted as saying that he admires Barack Obama because he speaks "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." His opponent, Republican Sharon Angle has said that if Congress can’t fix things, people may find themselves resorting to "Second Amendment remedies."
While I hate to contradict what Ronald Reagan preached — “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” — I feel it necessary to point out that Reaganesque leaders are few and far between. The majority of voters understand this and I think it could mean:
- The bums that we now have in office don’t get thrown out.
- We get a whole new set of incompetents in Congress who could be almost as bad as the last group.
I’m not much of a gambler so I am not betting on how this election turns out. I will, however, wager that whatever way it turns out it won’t be the salvation many American’s are looking for. Even with a Republican landside the White House is in Obama’s hands for at least another two years. A sitting President wields considerable power, even without a majority in the House or Senate, the kind of power that can co-opt a new Congress.
We also need to keep in mind that even 21st Century versions of the Founding Fathers were elected next week, the country has massive problems that will take years to solve.
Still a GOP victory is a step in the right direction. Conservative Republicans are campaigning on cutting Federal spending, extending the Bush tax cuts to all Americans and repealing Federal healthcare reform. And at least they understand that the stimulus bill has not helped grow the economy and the national debt is strangling us.
In the GOP weekly address, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said:
“Today, our national debt stands at more than $13 trillion — that’s more than $44,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in this country. The administration promised that if Congress borrowed a trillion dollars from future generations, their ‘stimulus’ bill would keep unemployment below 8 percent. Today unemployment remains at a heartbreaking 9.6 percent, making this the longest period that unemployment has been at or above 9.5 percent since the Great Depression.”
What Pence left unsaid is that these sorts of problems can’t be fixed by a midterm election and a few new members in the House and Senate.
“It’s endemic in our type of society that we always think there’s a person who holds the magic wand,” says Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a fiscal conservative who is not running for re-election. “But this society and this economy are far too complex to be susceptible to magic wands.”
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office concurs:
“The public has been sold this notion that somehow we can control the economy — that we can fine-tune it so we don’t get inflation on the upside, we don’t get recessions on the downside, [that] when something happens, they can step in and offset it.”
The facts speak for themselves. The U.S. economy is mired in its worst recession in 80 years. The nation has used up many of its natural resources; has unprecedented amounts of debt and is waging and losing a costly war in Afghanistan.
Excuse me for pushing the analogy, but America is like an aged, obese smoker who has drank too much and whose health has been neglected for decades. Such a patient will hardly be cured by switching around the nurses making rounds.
Instead the nation needs a lot of time, effort and leadership before we see any real improvement. A critical step in that will be when the country gets a new doctor. Hopefully that will be in two years. But even that probably won’t be a lead-pipe cinch.
Yours for real wealth and good health,
Myers’ Energy and Gold