Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Heath Shuler's Triumphant Return to D.C.

It is not without a massive amount of irony that Heath Shuler's triumphant return to D.C. as a newly minted Congressman trumps his previous legacy of spectacular failure there as an NFL QB.

The Democrats won back the House with a two-pronged strategy: (1) an external factor (dissatisfaction with Bush) that they simply rode and (2) and internal factor (diversification of candidates, specifically towards the center/right) that allowed free-swinging Independents and dissatisfied moderate Republicans to feel OK -- some might add "finally" -- with voting for a Dem.

That's where Shuler emerges as the poster boy in politics he never became in football.

He's right -- perhaps even far right -- on social issues, but was recruited to run as a Democrat because of his commitment to some of the D's more populist platforms -- and, far more important, for a profile that gave him a chance to win in an otherwise red district.

He was the type of candidate who the Dems would NEVER have sought out throughout the past few elections, as the party lurched to the left (and as it kept losing elections in traditionally red – or even "purple" – districts).

"Expanding the tent" turned out to be a winning election strategy. It remains to be seen whether the new coalition can be held together – the freshmen who led the charge to win the House back for the Dems seem to be moderates; the Democratic leadership that benefits from that charge is hard left.

And, amazingly, in the middle of it all: Heath (Freaking!) Shuler, NFL loser but Politics champion.

-- D.S.

24 comments:

Brave Sir Robin said...

I still he'll be picked last in those congressional flag football games

FutureLegendVinceYoung said...

I hope the Republicans can learn from the Democrats victory last night and try to get more moderate candidates. I have grown tired of the amount of influence that Christian right has over the Republican platform. For years the Republicans stood for strong defense, less government and lower taxes. But once the Evangelical's had a say on the platform issues such as abortion and gay marriage became an important part of the platform. Having faith is good but to incorporate your faith into politics is messy and it caught up with Republicans.

I hope the Democrats are able to step above the bickering and extend a hand across the aisle and get things done or is it going to be 2 years of subpoenas and gridlock?

Richard said...

Did anyone else love the comment during the Terminator's victory speech?

"I love sequals!"

Dan Mega said...

This was a case of where the Democrats didn't necessarily "beat" the Republicans, the GOP beat themselves with scandals, war, debt, etc.

If you look at the debates this year, all the Democrats had to do was to point out what is currently wrong with the Republicans. You rarely heard how exactly they intended on fixing things.

Regardless, they wiped the floor with the GOP this time around and it should be interesting how things shape up in the next 24 months.

GuyInTheCorner said...

Heath Shuler is now a congressman in N. Carolina which leads to him moving to DC where his career for the Redskins was one of the biggest dissapointments ever. If you mention the words "heath shuler" to the average person in DC (cause here, everyone follows the 'skins) you will receive laughter in return 6 out of 10 times and some variant of "Wow that guy sucked" about 7 out of 10 times.
( not kidding )

Kurt said...

Anyone else impressed by Harold Ford Jr. even though he didn't win his race in Tennessee?

VcdeChagn said...

That was excellent political insight. It actually reminded me of the republican contract with America. I hope it's two years of gridlock. I would MUCH prefer the govt do less than more. I'm a libertarian at heart.

Charlie (Seattle) said...

There is just something awesome about this blog. Someone named startvinceyoung just wrote a paragraph about how he is tired of the Christian Right, and their impact on the Republican Platform.

I agree completely, but there is just something hilarious about seeing this on the same blog where we debate the "Bron-Bron/Borat Theory".

Gary said...

It's been politics not sports that have crowded my head the last three days (crappy MNF game, nothing on Tuesday or tonight) so I guess this as good a place as any to talk.

Hey Dan, how about your Senate Power Rankings? I'll be impressed to see your 1-100 and why. I won't be unreasonable and ask for the House though. I don't think it'd be fair to list the 50 Dems 1-50 and the 50 GOPers 51-100. John McCain has to crack the top 10, Barak(sp?) Obama has to be up there too. Hillary would be in my bottom 10, but I'm biased!

Anyway, this Democrat revival might have come two years too soon and might end up hurting the Dems more than helping.

If for the next two years one of two things happen, it will almost ensure a Republician president in '08
1) Taxes go up, immigration becomes a problem or we leave Iraq and a terrorist attack happens (aka the Democrat Platform backfires)
or 2) Nothing gets done and this countrys suddenly surging economy goes back into the can, the GOPs will have the Democrats to blame for bad legislation or thwarting Republician legislation from passing.

I'm not saying those will happen, but it opens up a lot of doors and the Republicians will have opportunities to blame Dems for any problems that arise in the next two years.

mbpollack said...

This election might show just how conservative this country truly is. Gaining seats doesn't mean anything unless the freshmen congressman further the Dems' ideals. If the Dems couldn't advance their own agenda in an age of faltering presidential approval ratings and congressional cover-ups, there is a real problem.

Here's hoping that the Dems don't become Republican-light. Not quite what I expected with Howard Dean running things.

I'm hoping that this election season was just a ploy to get people voting blue again. Lure them with the centrists, and then bring back the true Dems in '08.

Chris (CT) said...

Pretty disappointed in Lieberman being re-elected as Senator here in CT considering he's a lap dog for Bush/Cheney at this point in his career. It's been a done deal since the primary in August, but I was holding out hope. Listening to him, I fear he didn't completely get the message delivered across the country last night, especially by a lot of his former supporters in CT. We'll see if he truly is a man of his word and if he will caucus with the Dems. I have my doubts. I don't agree with his position on the Terry Schiavo fiasco, censorship, healthcare and Iraq policy...way too conservative. Then he was he quoting scripture last night...UGH.

The other disappointing aspect to the senatorial race here was Ned Lamont's speech last night, which i though was perhaps his best to date. This guy excited people in the primaries and just lost steam. His concession speech last night was too late in coming. I wish we saw more of that instead of the one issue campaign he ran. He still got my vote though.

With that all said, I had a nice chuckle watching Santorum's concession speech. His kids trying to hold it together...dealing with the fact that their daddy had just been crushed. Maybe that's mean, but that guy is something else.

FutureLegendVinceYoung said...

I think a lot of Republicans are upset about getting rolled last night but they are not to upset. The reason behind this is the leadership of the Democratic party. While many of the newly elected Senators or Representatives may be more progressive. The Democratic leadership is very liberal; Pelosi, Reid, Waxman, Clinton, Kennedy, Dean et al. This group can do more for the Republicans than retaining control of both Houses could have done. We will have to see what happens.

FutureLegendVinceYoung said...

The first casualty of the Dems win last night is Rumsfeld. They have announced he will resign.

Mike said...

And even as Bush speaks, Montana's senate seat clicks over to the Dems. Is this the political equivalent to scoreboard watching during the last week of the regular season?

Manada said...

As an outside observer - how can the US not have a standard way to vot in all states and all districts?

We keep on hearing about "voting irregularities" in US elections - how can they not fix these issues.

Our Canadian systems are 99% flawless and extremely easy to use, and it also gives us real-time counts.

I just don't understand how you guys do it down there.

BTW: Did you also notice the small footnote regarding the Jimmy Carter led UN Election Observer force was given yesterday? The first time in US history that the UN was called in to make sure that the election was not rigged....nice.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the Democrat conspiracy theories about elections will die down. I was tired of sore losers.

Seriously, as a Conservative Christian, the election went really well. We have some new Conservative Democrats on our side. Harold Ford didn't win, but I love that man. The Republicans actually got MORE conservative, because the moderates in liberal states like New Hampshire got voted out. I got no problem with that.

But mostly, these are the number of seats the President's party ALWAYS loses in a midterm election. After the scandal and the war issues, I think this is mostly a Rep victory.

I didn't like rumsfeld, either. So that's cool, too. I voted straight Republican (re-elected Reynolds here) and yet I'm still happy with the Democrat's "victory".

I've found a lot of media, esp. overseas talking about this being a repudiation of Bush, etc. It's a repudiation of the war, but look at the Democrats who won. They look more like Bush than they did 4 years ago. There are more pro-life Democrats like Shuler. These are exactly the same type of people Bush worked with in Texas.

And I seriously want to give Howard Dean a hand. He finally got Dems organized enough to get out the vote (I got called 4 times this week as a registered Dem, yes, even though I'm a Conservative Christian Republican). Can't stand the man's politics or screaming, but he got the job done, and deserves some credit for helping all those conservative Democrats win.

And Pelosi looks cool. Clearly someone who won't be blindly bigoted against Bush for his faith.

Kurt said...

"After the scandal and the war issues, I think this is mostly a Rep victory." - Solomonrex

A Republican victory? Yes, that's what it was :D Please go out and convince all your conservative friends now that a landslide win for Democrats in the House and Senate = a Republican victory. And make sure to mention that a Democrat President in 2008 is a Republican victory as well.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Manada,
The reason the U.S. has more voter problems than Canada is that our population is 9x's greater than yours. I just looked up the statistics (how accurate, I cannot vouch) and Canada shows up as having a little less than 33 million people. The U.S. just crossed 300 million recently. Our last presidential election had about 100 million people voting in it, 3 times your entire country. It's harder to standardize that large of a vote.

FutureLegendVinceYoung said...

Right now the Democrats have the two most intriguing candidates for President in Hilary and Obama. The Republicans have Mitt Romney but he is Mormon and that will probably not sit well with the Evangelicals. McCain and Giuliani would be alright but they seem to be retreads and their beliefs on social issues (abortion, gay marriage) are not liked by the Christian right. So the Republicans could face a beating in the Presidency but win back Congress which is possible.

Dan Mega said...

Regarding the voting irregularities, there used to be no problems with paper ballots. That is, until a bunch of sore losers raised hell in 2000. If you know what I mean =)

nyc-steelers fan said...

Wonder if Gus Frerotte is thinking he can go down and take on Shuler in two years and win his job by virtue of having lower expectations...

As for the election, it went about how everyone predicted it would go (hope the VA vote gets resolved in a matter of hours/days rather than weeks/months). I will be very interested in seeing what agenda actually gets pushed by the Dems; education/minimum wage/stop protecting the rich with repeals and reductions of various taxes/stop subsidizing big oil/invest in alternative energies/develop a national plan for curbing carbon dioxide emissions are good places to start. Iraq is a mess; no need to stay with the status quo, but it's not congress' place to try and mandate a pullout.

jdn9201 said...

I voted straight Republican ticket, but to tell you the truth, alot of Repubs. deserved to lose last night. I'm just fed up with the last few years of many Repubs. putting more emphasis on gay marriage, stem cell research, etc.- rather than issues that are WAY higher on my list, like immigration, fiscal policy, etc.

I also hope that some of the moderation of the Democratic party is real, however, I think alot of it is a smokescreen right now. I mean, I don't trust Pelosi to bury the hatchet and actually get along with any Republicans.

The heroin sheik said...

As a convicted felon I do not have the right to vote for a while which I think is total bullshit since my felony is driving on a suspended license. NO dui's either if thats what your thinking, but here are my thoughts ont he whole election thing. I don't know if anyone reads teh column savage love but he refers to the asslube you make when you raw dog it in someones pooper as santorum and that is funny as hell.

IM not positive but I think heath schuler beat the gators which is horrible. It was like that retarded kid hitting all those treys. Sometimes everything comes together and you have one magical night. However that retarded kid dropping treys like ron artest drops fans is way cooler.
Here in florida the election blew. Im gonna miss Jeb and his crack addict daughter. I have some friends who claim to have sold her rock before. Now we have a republican Crist who went to FSU and his challenger was a gator who is also a dem. I was registered as a libetarian but tend to vote more on the rep side of things. Im just glad I didnt have to vote for a graduate of that girls school up north.

Now if we could only get rid of that pretentious cocksuckign asshole of a sheriff in orange county who is so dickheaded that he assumed five stars on his uniform even though that insignia is reserved for the brave men of our military who rose to their high rank through hard work, intelligence, and a selfless love for their country. Sheriff beary is the most corrupt sheriff around and I hope he chokes on one of those salami and pepper jack on stale bagels they make us choke down which we wash down with juice that states on the package that it causes cancer. FUCK that dude.

Anonymous said...

Well, Kurt, I'm just making the observation that Republicans lost the regular number of seats in a midterm election.

But you're right: capturing the Senate and capturing a majority of the gubernatorial races is a real Dem victory. I'm not sure there is anything more to this than Iraq. I imagine the upcoming Presidential election will determine that (only 1.5 more years to negative political ads! Yipee!).

Upcoming Presidential election candidates:
1. Hillary - too polarizing.
2. McCain - has been reaching out to the Conservative Christians, so he's the best GOP bet.
3. Mit Romney - no problem from this evangelical Christian, I'd vote for a Mormon, a jew or a muslim, because they share most of my values.
4. Guiliani - health problems, personal problems and liberal leaning probably dooms his chances in the GOP.
5. Obama - a terrific talker. Not very well established yet (too young). He will probably get talked into waiting by the Dem leadership (if they have any), or not be able to rally enough support nationwide for a while.
6. Frist: too much like Bush too soon after Bush. We'll see.
7. Edwards - Good-looking Southern Dem who came close last time.
8. Gore & Kerry - stick a fork in them.
9. Any former general - I don't think this works anymore. Too much TV time in modern politics. These guys aren't that polished.

Then again, what do I know? Spitzer was elected in NY, and he sounds like a District Attorney grilling a defendent ALL THE TIME.

So I give Hillary the early nod for nomination.

The pattern lately has been for winners/contenders to come from the South/West. And to be governors, actually. So maybe none of the above people.