Elections do not deliver neat verdicts. The 2008 race so handily won by President-elect Barack Obama shouted that the American public wanted to see reform in Washington. So it just doesn't seem right that John McCain, a true reformer in the GOP, lost, while Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, holds a thin lead in his re-election bid even though Stevens was just convicted on seven felony counts for violating federal ethics laws.
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., won re-election even though he is under federal indictment in a bribery investigation. You may recall that the Feds found $90,000 in his freezer during a 2005 raid.
Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., has such low regard for his constituents that he called them "racist" and "really redneck." They re-elected him. "You keep sending me back, regardless of what I say," Murtha marveled.
The return of this Democratic earmark baron, a prominent lieutenant of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggests the 111th Congress will not be sparing with federal pork.
In his victory speech, Obama reached out "to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn. I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too."
Then Obama offered the White House chief of staff post to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., one of the most partisan creatures on the planet. Emanuel is infamous for brandishing a steak knife at a dinner celebrating Clinton's election that he used to stab the table as he named each enemy, proclaiming each "dead."
So how does this work? Obama hears the voices of McCain voters and then "Rahmbo" knives more furniture and pronounces them dead?
Also dead: Public campaign financing. After reneging on his promise to campaign within the public-financing system, Obama and the Democratic National Committee spent an unprecedented $745 million on this campaign, according to the Washington Post. Funny, you don't hear Democrats complaining about the corrosive effect of big money on politics anymore. You also don't read many editorials denouncing negative ads bankrolled by cash-infused independent campaigns.
And really dead: Speaking truth to power.
Politico.com writers John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei made an educated guess, based on 35 years in the news business, that "Obama will win the votes of probably 80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election." Only 80 percent or more? The broadcast media basically tossed rose petals at Obama's feet with one exception, Fox News. Obama's reaction was to complain to the New York Times Magazine that he would be two or three points higher in the polls, were it not for Fox News, which portrayed him 24-7 "as a freak." On Friday, Air Obama ejected reporters from the Washington Times, New York Post and Dallas Morning News newspapers that endorsed McCain from the plane. Obama is not in office yet, and already his message to the press is: Lapdogs only.
And while many readers have hoped that the voter verdicts of 2006 and 2008 will have a moderating effect on Washington, the opposite may occur. Following moderate Republican Nancy Johnson's loss in 2006, Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., lost his seat. Connecticut's House delegation is all Ds now. In fact, there won't be a single R representing New England come next year.
And how will independent Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut fare in the post-partisan Obama era?
Several new reports suggest Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will strip Lieberman, who supported McCain even as he has caucused with Senate Democrats, of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee when they meet today.
Us versus them lives; only the place cards have changed.