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Shades of Jon Lovitz’ Line in 1988: “I Can’t Believe I’m Losing to This Guy”

Let’s start with Larry Sabato’s latest forecast for the 2010 elections:

Given what we can see at this moment, Republicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net. This is a “net” number since the GOP will probably lose several of its own congressional districts in Delaware, Hawaii, and Louisiana. This estimate, which may be raised or lowered by Election Day, is based on a careful district-by-district analysis, plus electoral modeling based on trends in President Obama’s Gallup job approval rating and the Democratic-versus-Republican congressional generic ballot (discussed later in this essay). If anything, we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains, if the election were being held today.

In the Senate, we now believe the GOP will do a bit better than our long-time prediction of +7 seats. Republicans have an outside shot at winning full control (+10), but are more likely to end up with +8 (or maybe +9, at which point it will be interesting to see how senators such as Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and others react) […] The statehouses will provide the third leg of the Republicans’ 2010 victory. We have long suggested the GOP would gain a net +6 governorships. We now believe they will win +8. This boon to the GOP for redistricting will be enhanced by a gain of perhaps 300 to 500 seats in the state legislatures, and the addition of Republican control in 8 to 12 legislative chambers around the country.

So with that in mind, take a look at the expected-to-be re-elected Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, at last night’s debate:

It gets worse, as local media then asks Brewer to come clean about her bullshit fearmongering about beheadings in the Arizona desert, when crime in that state is at its lowest level since 1983. She ignores, ignores, and then walks out on the media. Which is becoming a trend among GOP candidates (ask Dan Maes).

I certainly think back to one of Saturday Night Live’s greatest debate moments:

Sam Donaldson: Vice-President Bush, there are millions of homeless in this country – children who go hungry, and lacking in other basic necessities. How would the Bush administration achieve your stated goal of making this a kinder, gentler nation?

George Bush: Well, that is a big problem, Sam, and unfortunately the format of these debates makes it hard to give you a complete answer. If I had more time, I could spell out the program in greater detail, but I’m afraid, in a short answer like this, all I can say is we’re on track – we can do more – but we’re getting the job done, so let’s stay on course, a thousand points of light. Well, unfortunately, I guess my time is up.

Diane Sawyer: Mr. Vice-President, you still have a minute-twenty.

George Bush: What? That can’t be right. I must have spoken for at least two minutes.

Diane Sawyer: No, just forty seconds, Mr. Vice-President.

George Bush: Really? Well, if I didn’t use the time then, I must have just used the time now, talking about it.

Diane Sawyer: No, no, Mr. Vice-President, it’s not being counted against you.

George Bush: Well, I just don’t want it to count against Governor Dukakis’ time.

Diane Sawyer: It won’t. It will come out of the post-debate commentary.

George Bush: Do you think that’s a good idea?

Diane Sawyer: You still have a minute-twenty, Mr. Vice-President.

George Bush: Well, more has to be done, sure. But the programs we have in place are doing the job, so let’s keep on track and stay the course.

Diane Sawyer: You have fifty seconds left, Mr. Vice-President.

George Bush: Let me sum up. On track, stay the course. Thousand points of light.

Diane Sawyer: Governor Dukakis. Rebuttal?

Michael Dukakis: I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!

The problem is that I CAN believe it. Hard-core Democratic partisans think it’s a good thing that the Republicans keep putting up unelectable candidates, but it’s really playing with fire. The national mood is just savage right now, largely because of the economy, and Democrats haven’t articulated whatsoever their plans for the next Congress, in the midst of a continued crisis. They keep walking this tightrope between explaining that their policies have been successful, while explaining that people’s eyes are correct and the economic situation isn’t perfect, just getting bad more slowly. They haven’t put Republicans on the defensive by making a contrast between real jobs programs and tax cuts for millionaires. In fact, they’re likely to extend those.

Given the economic environment, losses were inevitable. But losses to this particular crop of know-nothings are really unforgivable – and it’s entirely a self-inflicted wound.

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David Dayen

David Dayen