Mess with Texas

I remember clicking past Rush Limbaugh’s television show on election day 1994, which was broadcast opposite one of the halves of David Letterman, if I recall.  It was filmed earlier in the day — I think just after his radio program, so he did not have any way of knowing just how big a night it would be for his team.  He focused in on some visual and audio mockery of Texas Governor, and endangered Democratic incumbent Ann Richards, throwing spitballs out of her stump speeches.  She would lose the election to George W. Bush.

I made sure to catch him the next night, out of a sense of curiosity.  Limbaugh was wearing a formal three-piece suit.  Really, it was a minimalistic performance on his part — all he had to do was read various election results, and let the studio audience cheer.

In 1998, my high school Civics teacher had the question on the daily current events quiz “Who, in general, won?”  The answer was “Democrats”.  In going over the answers, and the news, he made the comment “Actually, it really was a good night for them; it really was.  You can’t say it had anything to do with them, though.”  I disagreed and continue to disagree with the first part of that equation: it was a marginally good night for the Democrats.  They won a few House seats.  1994 was a good mid-term election night for a political party; this — granted, bucked a historical trend, but didn’t really sway either way the relative power-relationship between the two parties.  The Democrats chipped away a few House seats for 1996, under the leadership of Dick Gephardt, did so again in 1998, and again in 2000.  The trend slid the other way from there.  I came to think that a political party really never going to win and re-win the House by slow chipping aways of seats — they’d have to have an election result such as 1994, or as it turned out, 2006.

NPR had two political pundits — the Democrats represented by EJ Dionne and the Republicans represented by somebody from The Weekly Standard.  It was obvious from the start that The Weekly Standard pundit had to churn harder to come up with a spin.  “I don’t see a trend yet.  It’s too early to notice a spin”, he said after the first few states came in with several results favoring the Democrats.  He had to find some solace in the Lieberman — Lamont race.  “It’s interesting to note that Lieberman’s victory came with people who attend church regularly.”  Sure, why not?  “There seems to be something here in Connecticut where Lieberman has coat-tails that are bringing in the moderate Republicans, who are hanging in there.”  And then the kicker came when Nancy Pelosi was announced to be, mathematically speaking, the new Speaker of the House — the number of Democratic pick-ups stood at 17.  “The two endangered Democrats in Georgia might bring it down to 15.”

I’m sure he strained a lot less in 1994 to say things.  Or maybe he was sitting in Rush Limbaugh’s studio audience.

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