Political Animal


November 07, 2012 4:33 PM The GOP’s Secret Plan to Make Me Worry Unnecessarily

By Paul Glastris

Kevin Drum writes that he’s “unaccountably exhausted” by the election, even though he didn’t much doubt the outcome so didn’t feel let down and, living in California, didn’t even have to stay up that late last night to see the results. He thinks maybe his tiredness comes from being “loathe to face up to the next four years, which promises to be an awful lot like the past two” but he isn’t sure.

I too am having trouble making sense of how I feel about this election. It’s not exactly triumph, or even relief, since I’ve been reasonably sure for months that Obama would win. What I think I’m feeling is a more akin to irritation. Partly it’s the sense that, like millions of other Americans, I’ve given more than a year of intense attention to an electoral contest that has turned out to have altered neither the balance of power in Washington nor the minds of those whose side lost, which means that despite a sound ass-whooping, the Republicans are unlikely to change their behavior.

But I think another source of my irritaion is that, as I wrote earlier, the Republicans seemed overwhelmingly convinced that Romney was going to win, despite overwhelming evidence from the polls that such an outcome was extremely unlikely. For me and probably a lot of other people, this astonishing conviction among Republicans led me to carry around inside my head an extra measure of doubt about what the ultimate result would be. Maybe, I thought, conservatives have some pipeline of information I’m not aware of; maybe they’re attuned to some common-man groove I don’t feel.

Well, it turns out they were just delusional. But their delusion led me to elevate my level of stress for months. Now that I know for sure that extra anxiety was unnecessary I’m kind of pissed. But maybe that was their devious plan all along. If so, well played!

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly.


  • Mudge on November 07, 2012 4:47 PM:

    They reject evolution and climate change, they believe there is a secret woman sauce that prevents pregnancy from rape, they believe Obama is from Kenya and they believed Romney would win.

    Seems consistent to me.

  • Mimikatz on November 07, 2012 4:54 PM:

    The balance of power has been altered slightly. The Dems have more liberals and more women in their caucus in addition to just more Dems. McConnell has 2 fewer and no Liebermann. There will have to be filibuster reform or nothing will be done, and all or nearly all of the new Dems are pledged to vote for it. Reid backs it, finally. This will open the logjam somewhat. The Dems are going to be kinder to the vulnerable and won't vote for balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, they will demand and get revenue gains. And at least some business people are going to pressure the GOP to cut a reasonable deal sooner rather than later. McConnell is also up in 2014 and may have Ben Chandler to worry about. No wonder he was such a sourpuss this morning.

  • c u n d gulag on November 07, 2012 4:58 PM:

    "But maybe that was their devious plan all along. If so, well played!"

    But of COURSE it was!!!

    The ONLY priciple, and reason for existance, that Conservatism has anymore, is doing whatever it is that pisses-off the Liberals.

    They have NO other idea's.

    Like the GREAT Groucho, 'Whatever it is, they're AGAINST IT!!!!'

  • T2 on November 07, 2012 4:59 PM:

    Mr. Glastris, your comments are interesting, especially the part about delusion on the part of Conservatives/GOP/TP. Break down the numbers and the conclusion is that about 2/3 of the white men in America are delusional. This is not a good thing. The question is 'how did they get that way'.....it could be easy to surmise that a feeling of fear/hatred of having their lives taken over by minorities has pushed relatively normal guys into delusion. Which led them to FOX News, which reinforced the delusion. What causes millions of white men to become so delusional that they'd be absolutely certain a candidate like Romney - multi-millionaire silver spoon rich kid, morally void, liar, wooden as a stick horse, disliked by even his own Party, should be their leader and that everyone in the country would feel the same way. If anyone comes up with a better reason than racism, I'll be happy to listen. The proof will be 2016, when I guarantee that the Democratic Party will nominate a white guy. Will the delusion go away?

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on November 07, 2012 5:03 PM:

    At some point, the weight of empirical evidence that the Tea Party is destroying the GOP will become too heavy for even the science-denying party to ignore. Alas for them, all the reasonable conservatives (like me) will now be working for their destruction.

    Meanwhile, elections like this are good to nudge the Beltway elites into realizing that Republicans do NOT need a preferential airing of their point. They need to be reminded that the people so hurting their feelings with accusations of media bias do NOT represent us, and they do NOT need to respond by trying to outFox Fox. (I think they're catching on. Incidentally, Ruport Murdoch and Roger Ailes were among last night's big winners.)

    And most importantly, BHO can now feel free to call them out without worrying that the "Angry Black Man" connotations can be used to shorten his political career. I'm really eager to see if he uses the bully pulpit now or just meekly wishes for vague compromise again. He brought up both election reform and environmental sustainability last night in Chicago, so I'm hopeful.

  • Ron Byers on November 07, 2012 5:14 PM:

    I would have counted Roger Ailes and Ruppert Murdock as two of last night's big losers. Why do you think they were winners?

  • lou on November 07, 2012 5:15 PM:

    My irritation comes from seeing so much of the country unite under a banner of lies to achieve power with no ends other than concentrating more power and money in fewer and fewer hands. If this is what Obama will be forced to compromise with, then we do need to question the outcome of that compromise.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on November 07, 2012 5:22 PM:


    My working assumption is that they like income more than they like having their shill in the WH to reduce their taxes. My understanding is that Fox was beginning to languish in the late GWB years but saw a sudden surge after Obama's election.

    One thing's for sure: 2009 was a phenomenal year for Fox:


    I doubt the right will get as angry in 2013, though -- more resigned, less outraged.

  • Varecia on November 07, 2012 5:24 PM:

    "...For me and probably a lot of other people, this astonishing conviction among Republicans led me to carry around inside my head an extra measure of doubt about what the ultimate result would be. Maybe, I thought, conservatives have some pipeline of information Iím not aware of; maybe theyíre attuned to some common-man groove I donít feel..."

    Some years ago I read about a study which identified a reaction among more rational, thoughtful people to be able to consider that they might be wrong about something, even when they had empirical evidence backing up that they were right. So your feeling was apparently typical. I think a lot of people were aware of the polling but tamped down any excessive optimism...just in case.

  • kevo on November 07, 2012 5:27 PM:

    Yes, we are all exhausted! In Churchill's day, a lie could travel half way round the world before the truth could put its pants on! So, why get dressed at all!

    Today, we can get our pants on quickly because of the interwebs,twitter tweets (thanks to the twits who tweet) and social networking wall creeping! And, our exhaustion stems from having to put our pants on every ten minutes to refute the whopper Mitt and his "post-truth" campaign were all too willing to lay down!

    Constant wardrobe changes are exhausting especially if the liars among us have no intention of ever telling the truth! -Kevo

  • schtick on November 07, 2012 5:30 PM:

    I'm still trying to figure out what Obama expects to get from meeting with Willard to "work together". I can't think of anything Willard offered that came close to even sounding good.

  • sherrybb on November 07, 2012 5:32 PM:

    had to totally laugh out loud at the part dealing with the anxiety you felt due to the overwhelming belief of the RW that they had this election in the bag....said it just perfectly and glad to know i was not alone.

  • Elizabeth on November 07, 2012 5:32 PM:

    I have also been too stressed! It helped to work on the campaign with a great pal, walking house to house, talking to nice people. But I did hear a week or so ago something like the Republicans were stoking the uncertainty to help raise Republican voters' confidence, while the Democrats didn't mind keeping us anxious to make sure we followed through and voted. I acknowledged it, felt pretty hopeful, and still was almost sick with worry. May we strengthen our conviction and support and not have to go through that again--at least not for a long while.

  • djhollen on November 07, 2012 5:32 PM:

    It's like worrying about a group of hyperactive 4-year olds with machine guns. Stupid and dangerous.

  • Barbara on November 07, 2012 5:34 PM:

    This is pretty much exactly how I felt, and it wasn't only me -- a lot of people at the election party I went to last night felt the same way.

  • VVo on November 07, 2012 5:41 PM:

    This afternoon, i decide to listen to Rush to see how he was explaining the Obama victory. I was only able to stay on for 5 min but what I got was: "I cannot explain this, NOTHING indicated that Obama was going to win".
    They must all have dual personality because they went after Nate Silver for showing Obama winning, then after Obama won, they say nothing indicated he was going to win. No introspection, no review of the data

  • T2 on November 07, 2012 5:43 PM:

    one name I've not heard mentioned much today is Wonder Boy Paul Ryan. He was supposed to galvanize the TeaParty behind a guy they didn't like-Romney. I didn't see much galvanizing...or much Ryan. If this was supposed to be his Grand Entrance into the big stage of american politics, you'd have to say he flopped. The Tea Party spent today blaming Mitt for not being, well, crazy enough, I guess. Not a word about Ryan.
    But really, if running a campaign 100% based on clear lies isn't crazy enough for them, I don't know who they'll turn to.

  • Larry Reilly on November 07, 2012 5:52 PM:

    Maybe, just maybe, so much heat and light recently fell upon the possibility of shenanigans with computer jiggering that they pulled back from gaming the thing. And away went their confidence at the very end.

  • c u n d gulag on November 07, 2012 5:58 PM:

    Ron Byers,
    Because Rog and Rupe will be rolling in the dough for the next 4 years, blasing Obama for any and every thing.

  • J.T. on November 07, 2012 6:07 PM:

    My stress was caused by my conviction that the election was going to be stolen. Too many Republican Secretaries of State in too many swing states who had already indicated that voting was something they regarded as a right only for Republicans. I believed Romney would win not because of secret data or a magical connection with the electorate, but because there would be outright cheating.

    I am relieved today.

  • Gandalf on November 07, 2012 6:37 PM:

    I'm releived. And I'll tell you why. There will probably be at least two supreme court justices replaced in the next four years and it's likely there could be more. The dems control the senate and they control the white house. That's a done deal. It could restore some semblence of sanity to court with batshit crazy conservatives on it.

  • Helen Bedd on November 07, 2012 7:06 PM:

    "...the Republicans seemed overwhelmingly convinced that Romney was going to win, despite overwhelming evidence from the polls that such an outcome was extremely unlikely. Maybe, I thought, conservatives have some pipeline of information Iím not aware of; maybe theyíre attuned to some common-man groove I donít feel."

    Conor Friedersdorf has the simple explanation: The Right Wing media lied to them the entire election.


  • John on November 07, 2012 9:48 PM:

    @schtick. I felt the the same thing. It was jarring to hear president Obama say he was going to ask for a meeting with Romney. We just spent almost a year fighting tooth and nail to keep Romney's toxic ideas out of the White House. Chris Matthews said this was a main criticism of the president and I agree though I couldn't quite put it in words till now. Barak bends over backwards to work with the opposition, to be bipartisan, but he doesn't work very hard to build coalitions in his own party. Why didn't he work to help elect Democratic house members? Why didn't he congratulate incoming Democratic senators like Elizabeth Warren or Tammy Baldwin for their historic wins? In his victory speech why didn't he thank Bill Clinton who was the star of the Democratic convention and talked himself hoarse this past week?

  • PEA on November 07, 2012 10:57 PM:

    Agree with most of the commenters about why I also felt so stressed and now feel so relieved. We even gained ground. I also heard that the Dem strategy was that letting us stew would increase our voting (maybe donations too - and they were right, I dug deeper near the end). If true, I resent being manipulated but can hardly quarrel with the outcome.

    I really hope Obama delegates most of the negotiating to people like Patty Murray this time, who seems to have a serious backbone in the 2 clips I've just seen of her tonight. Maybe those new women Dem Senators will be as tough as we need our side to be!! I am hopeful that there will be even more women Dems elected to Congress next time.

    And I'd be a whole lot happier if the media (esp the MSNBC folks at least) could stop adopting the GOP-serving GOP-crafted language about issues (like "fiscal cliff"). Wake up! Think for yourself.

    Guess I'm not as relieved as I'd like to be -- I still worry that Obama will sell the liberal/progressive agenda short. But for now I'm slightly hopeful -- Altho' Boehner's little press conf today sounded like warmed over #$%@ just like before).

  • jhm on November 08, 2012 7:44 AM:

    On a technical note, especially as I always appreciate Mr. Glastris' posts, I wonder if a way can't be found to have the blog-page by-line at the beginning, as it is on the permalink page. Every time I read Paul's "I" as coming from Ed (or another pro tem), and have to re-read the post when it becomes clear that someone else is the author.

  • murphro2 on November 08, 2012 9:12 AM:

    The balance of power has shifted, and quite dramatically. It may not be felt for a while, GOP denial will continue apace for some time. You are right to feel relieved and proud. If for nothing else what was avoided. It is hard to predict how Obama will move forward: will he come out swinging, taking a hard line or will he look like he's desperate for a deal? Time will tell.

    The GOP lost an election by their own admission they should have won. Why? It's hard to get around the fact that they just did not understand the American electorate. Close elections have a funny way of turning out to be major game changers. The longer the GOP loyalists harp on how "it wasn't a landslide" the more likely they are headed to disaster in 2014. They will have been helped by losing some of their crazies this time around (West, Walsh); we will see if that is enough to make them come to the table.

    Now is not the time for irritation (seriously?) but to gloat, preen and extol!

  • BillFromPA on November 08, 2012 9:14 AM:

    We are who we are because we're reasonable people. We have strong convictions but we're open to the possibility that we may err from time to time. When new evidence arrives, we're prepared to change long held opinions.

    The other side is absolutely sure of everything, there's no doubt about anything. They can't be wrong, reality be damned. This is actually a source of strength for them at times. Indies, centerists and others not as partisan as we are actually are attracted to arguments stated more forcefully, the repugs sway many undecidedes by their certainty. Because we're reasonable, we allow ourselves to think,'Maybe they've got it right', it's the price we pay for an open mind.

  • rrk1 on November 08, 2012 11:26 AM:

    I too have felt stressed for months, and oscillated between optimism and despair as Obama's fortunes seemed to wax and wane somewhat inexplicably.

    Aside from what the badly beaten Rethugs will or won't do as a result of their thrashing, I predict they will double down yet again, there is the very real issue of what Obama will do with a second term. His rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2008 was abandoned badly when he got into office, and his unwillingness to communicate a message in support of his own initiatives and successes hurt him badly. His stubborn, I would say arrogant, dedication to bipartisanship in the face of unprecedented obstructionism legitimately called into question his political sensibilities, and just plain good sense generally. He allowed his opposition to frame his issues in their terms, and then he fought a rear guard action to change public perception, but not very effectively.

    The point is can we expect very changed behavior in his second term? I certainly give him credit for being bright, and able to learn from his mistakes, but I don't expect to see any fundamental changes in his personality. That is worrisome. He spent four years dissing progressives, and defining himself as a moderate, slightly left-leaning centrist. That was how he squandered the biggest mandate a president had gotten since Lyndon Johnson or Ronald Reagan (unfortunately). Will he squander this one too? I'm worried.