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September 03, 2005

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the exile

I sense almost a kind of catharsis, a feeling on the part of a few liberal (but previously cowed) journalists that they can let out everything they've kept bottled up inside for the last 2-3 years, at least since the discovery of no WMD. Why now? Perhaps because Bush can't run for re-election, or perhaps because his approval ratings are so low, or perhaps because as much as they might try, Bush's people simply can't spin this as "pure politics." They can't use the "you're undermining our troops" meme, and they can't credibly write off opposition as part of the usual Washington political game, because ordinary people in America are dying. For Bush, a perfect storm has gathered against him (forget I said that-- what a horribly insensitive way to put it...)

What we don't know is how much of the Washington press corps is in this camp (as opposed to being truly corrupted propagandists for the regime). Nor do we know whether this is a turning point or just a blip. We also don't know what form Rove's inevitable counter-offensive will take-- it will likely be nasty.

But a shattering Republican defeat in 06 is no longer an impossible scenario. Time and time again in history, defeat in war and incompetent responses to natural disasters have been the catalysts for radical, even revolutionary political shifts. I'm not saying it will happen, but it could happen, and if it does, Democrats need to be ready to seize the moment and act decisively, and not squander what will be a fleeting opportunity if they screw it up by appearing either too partisan or too bereft of real ideas.

If Democrats get the House and/or the Senate, they need to have a single-payer catastrophic health insurance plan on the national agenda and ideally on Bush's desk within weeks. They have to flog 2 or 3 other popular symbolic bills-- perhaps limiting usurious credit card interest rates, or overturning some of the more egregious corporate handouts, or whatever. And then, only then, after the American people have seen that the Democrats have a plan that helps them in the pocketbook, the investigations can begin, starting with hearings on how to fix our broken voting system.

I know it may seem like dreaming, but my sense of history tells me that it is prudent to plan ahead expecting some volatility.

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