Bernard Weiner writes: "The upcoming midterm election is, at the time of this writing, too close to call. One day, it looks good for the Democrats to retake the House and keep the Senate; the next day, there seems to be a surge for the GOP, with the Republicans set to hang onto the House and retake the Senate. "What's an editor to plan for on Election Night?" See how you react to the following alternative stories about the election results. And act accordingly. Your actions, donations, and volunteer efforts during the next week or so will help determine which version of the post-election stories below you'll be reading on November 6.
The Election Results: Which News Story Would You Prefer to Read on Nov. 6th?
By Bernard Weiner
The upcoming midterm election is, at the time of this writing, too close to call. One day, it looks good for the Democrats to retake the House and keep the Senate; the next day, there seems to be a surge for the GOP, with the Republicans set to hang onto the House and retake the Senate. "What's an editor to plan for on Election Night?"
See how you react to the following alternative stories about the election results. And act accordingly. Your actions, donations, and volunteer efforts during the next week or so will help determine which version of the post-election stories below you'll be reading on November 6.
Dems Eke Out Victory in House, Senate
(Associated Press) Washington, D.C. -- The Bush Administration suffered a major political defeat in yesterday's mid-term election, as the Democrats narrowly edged-out the Republicans in enough House and Senate races to take control of the Congress.
"The Founders of our country, having suffered under King George, wisely chose to build checks-and-balances into our system of government," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle "They never again wanted any leader, or branch of government, to have that much power. And now, the citizens of our great country likewise have decided not to give another George too much power, but to distribute it as a check and balance. I congratulate them for their wisdom."
Had the GOP held onto the House, and retaken the Senate, the Bush Administration essentially would have controlled all three branches of the government.
Sources inside the White House, who choose to remain anonymous, report that Mr. Bush and his closest associates are furious at the election defeat, and blame "lying Democrats," "the media," and those who "distorted our message of peace through power." Apparently, their foreign and military policy initiatives are on hold, along with plans to repeal Roe v. Wade, and to nominate more far-right justices of the Supreme Court and numerous appellate judges.
"Since the Bush forces already control most of the major, conglomerate-owned media," said the incoming new Speaker of the House, Dick Gephardt, "Mr. Bush, had his forces taken the Congress, basically would have had all the reins of power in his hands. The damage he and his right-wing cohorts could have done would have been immeasurable."
"It's plain that the American people want us to serve as a brake on the more outrageous bills and nominations put forward by the Bush Administration, and to move toward a more reasonable agenda in the country. That agenda would emphasize working with the world community instead of going off on our own, and would concentrate more on domestic issues such as stabilizing and growing our economy, health care, Social Security/Medicare reforms, prescription drugs for the elderly, education, environmental protection, and so on," said Gephardt.
James Carville, Democratic consultant and former Clinton aide, put it more bluntly: "The arrogant Bush stallion has just been gelded. This is the beginning of the end for Bush&Co.'s arrogance, dirty tricks, unilateralism in foreign affairs, imperial adventures abroad, giveaways to the rich and corporations, and environmental destruction. Our next step is taking back the White House in 2004."
GOP Ekes Out Victories in House, Senate
(Associated Press) Washington, D.C. -- The Republican Party narrowly regained control of the Senate and held onto the House in yesterday's midterm elections, thus assuring the Bush Administration total control of the Congress, as well as the executive and judicial branches of government, for at least the next two years.
"The citizens have seen through the Democrat lies and distortions of our record," said a jubilant Karl Rove, chief policy adviser to Mr. Bush. "Now we have a re-affirmed mandate to carry on our programs at home and abroad. And we will move swiftly in the Congress to push our bills through, to get more strict-constructionist judges into place, and to continue our course abroad, forcefully asserting democracy and freedom around the globe."
Pat Robertson, a leader of the Christian Right, could barely contain his glee: "Now we're finally free to do God's work: to nominate more God-fearing judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade, to permit more freedom for churches to act in concert with the government, to make permanent the tax cut to our friends and supportive corporations, to give more police powers to the homeland-security forces, and to move toward Armageddon in Iraq and the Middle East, with true Christians surviving to usher in the return of Christ."
Richard Perle, influential national-security advisor, suggested that "Iraq might be just the first country" to fall to America's war aims, with Iran, Syria, Yemen and others to follow, along with North Korea, which has admitted having a secret nuclear program. Perle dismissed as "wimpy" fears by some critics of the U.S. being engaged in one war after another, or even several at the same time.
Tom Daschle, the outgoing Senate Majority Leader, was distraught. "We thought the American people would see through lies and dangers inherent in the Bush program, at home and abroad. But in a few key races that tipped the balance, the Administration pulled out all the stops, with loads of money thrown in at the last minute for deceptive ads, dirty tricks and so on. I'm afraid we're in for a rough ride the next two years."
Daschle refused to comment on the rumor circulating around the Capitol, that up to three GOP senators are considering "doing a Jeffords" -- that is, resigning from the GOP caucus and joining the Democrats on key votes and organization of the Senate. That would keep Daschle as Majority Leader, and the Democrats in control of the Senate, and thus able to block some of the Bush Administration's more controversial bills and judicial nominees.
If that doesn't happen, said outgoing House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, "the U.S. is headed for one economic and foreign-policy disaster after another."
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., is co-editor of an about-to-be-launched political website, CrisisPapers.org. He was with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years, and has taught American government and international relations at Western Washington University and San Diego State University.