1. Let me echo the Voegeli comment below: The Republican party has suffered from an IQ and competence gap since Clinton’s humiliating defeat of Gingrich in 1995. Although there are a lot of reasons McCain lost, a big one is that he gave us no confidence that he wouldn’t perpetuate the Republican "culture of incompetence." Let me repeat we’re not talking about high conservative principle--or whether Russell Kirk or Strauss or Reagan or Gerson should be our guide--but ordinary getting the bleeping job done. That "culture of incompetence" showed itself in so many ways in McCain’s "seat of the pants" disorganized and random (especially in terms of message) campaign. I like McCain as a person, but God knows he didn’t convince enough people that he could be a capable chief executive.
2. I’m very immnune to Obama’s seductive charms and so have a lot trouble sitting through TV right now. But I gotta say I really admire the choice of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff. It was a very partisan choice; that guy is admired for his ruthless effectiveness for Democrats and their issues but not particularly liked. More than anyone else he was responsible for the Democratic 2006 landslide, which set the stage for everything that happened this year. The appointment is a clear sign tht Obama wants to get things done fast, and even that he wants to use this really tough and smart guy to make sure they get done his-as opposed to, say, Barney Frank’s--way. I don’t know what that means in terms of actual policy agenda. Republicans will be mostly stuck with sitting back and watching.
3. I still think McCain might have won the election without the meltdown and the bailout. In retrospect, it’s clear that his genuine maverick move would have been to oppose the bailout. He didn’t do that, of course, because, in his mind, it would have been dishonorably irreponsible and demagogic. But in order to do it, he would have to have demonstrated his maverick mastery of economic issues. So it wouldn’t have worked anyway. The stats supported whoever it was who posted that the election in the battleground states was lost in the suburbs--the land of foreclosures and rapid deterioration of 401 (k) and home values.