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Election on Tues Is No Big Deal

red states rule

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While Dems and the liberal media will tell you conservativism is now dead, it is not. Conservatism won on Tuesday



November 10, 2006
Only a Minor Earthquake
By Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- How serious is the "thumpin'" the Republicans took on Tuesday? Losing one house is significant but hardly historic. Losing both houses, however, is defeat of a different order of magnitude, the equivalent in a parliamentary system of a vote of no confidence.

On Tuesday, Democrats took control of the House and the Senate. As of this writing, they won 29 House seats (with a handful still in the balance), slightly below the post-1930 average for the six-year itch in a two-term presidency. They took the Senate by the thinnest of margins -- a one-vote majority, delivered to them by a margin of 7,188 votes in Virginia and 2,847 in Montana.

Because both houses have gone Democratic, the election is correctly seen as an expression of no confidence in the central issue of the campaign: Iraq. It was not so much the war itself as the perceived administration policy of "stay the course,'' which implied endless intervention with no victory in sight. The president got the message. Hence the summary resignation of the designated fall guy, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Nonetheless, the difference between taking one house versus both -- and thus between normal six-year incumbent party losses and a major earthquake that shakes the presidency -- was razor thin in this election. A switch of just 1,424 votes in Montana would have kept the Senate Republican.

A margin this close should no longer surprise us. For this entire decade the country has been evenly divided politically. The Republicans had control but by very small majorities. In 2000, the presidential election was settled by a ridiculously small margin. And the Senate ended up deadlocked 50-50. All the changes since then have been minor. Until now.

But the great Democratic wave of 2006 is nothing remotely like the great structural change some are trumpeting. It was an event-driven election that produced the shift of power one would expect when a finely balanced electorate swings mildly one way or the other.

This is not realignment. As has been the case for decades, American politics continues to be fought between the 40-yard lines. The Europeans fight goal line to goal line, from socialist left to the ultranationalist right. On the American political spectrum, these extremes are negligible. American elections are fought on much narrower ideological grounds. In this election, the Democrats carried the ball from their own 45-yard line to the Republican 45-yard line.

The fact that the Democrats crossed midfield does not make this election a great anti-conservative swing. Republican losses included a massacre of moderate Republicans in the Northeast and Midwest. And Democratic gains included the addition of many conservative Democrats, brilliantly recruited by Rep. Rahm Emanuel with classic Clintonian triangulation. Hence Heath Shuler of North Carolina, anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-tax -- and now a Democratic congressman.

The result is that both parties have moved to the right. The Republicans have shed the last vestiges of their centrist past, the Rockefeller Republican. And the Democrats have widened their tent to bring in a new crop of blue-dog conservatives.

Moreover, ballot initiatives make the claim of a major anti-conservative swing quite problematic. In Michigan, liberal Democrats swept the gubernatorial and senatorial races, yet a ballot initiative to abolish affirmative action passed 58-42. Seven out of eight anti-gay marriage amendments to state constitutions passed. And nine states passed referendums asserting individual property rights against the government's power of eminent domain.

To muddy even more the supposed ideological significance of this election, consider who is the biggest winner of the night: Joe Lieberman. Just a few months ago, he was scorned by his party and left for dead. Now he returns to the Senate as the Democrats' 51st seat -- and holder of the balance of power. From casualty to kingmaker in three months. Not bad. His Democratic colleagues who abandoned him this summer will now treat him very well.

Lieberman won with a platform that did not trim or hedge about seeking victory in Iraq. And he did it despite having a Republican in the race who siphoned off 10 percent of the pro-war vote. All this in Connecticut, a very blue state.

The public's views on what we ought to do with the war remain mixed, as do its general ideological inclinations. What happened on Tuesday? The electorate threw the bums out in disgust with corruption and in deep dissatisfaction with current Iraq policy. Reading much more into this election is a symptom of either Republican depression or Democratic wishful thinking.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/11/tuesdays_election_was_a_vote_o.html
 

Annie

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I agree that numberwise, the election wasn't 'that big of a deal.' I think it's more than likely that the practical results of this just past election may be huge and not necessarily what either party expects.

In many ways so far, both have taken steps or made some pronouncements that may indicate they did not comprehend the messages that voters may have been trying to send.

Did Bush really plan on Rumsfeld's resignation while saying different? I think so. His rationale? 'He didn't want to throw a curve or October surprise into the races.' What did independents, the moderate Democrats and GOP base 'hear'? I think that the president was going to continue with the WOT and they voted accordingly.

That view lost at the polls. So what does the president do the next day? Throws Rummy overboard, announces his replacement to be a retread from his dad's administration. Making the announcement 'weeks/months' before, when the decision to replace was made, may have saved a few seats in the House. Even while acting so quickly, Bush still failed to say 'what changes' he has in mind, I guess he's waiting for Baker or Pelosi to tell him. :dunno: Still no clarity.

On the other hand, we have democrats who are assuming they have a mandate, though I'm pretty sure that other than their regular base, that isn't the message many of the moderate democrats, disenchanted moderate Republicans, and independents were trying to send.

Poll after poll, since early 2005 have indicated that the average US citizen did not approve of how the war was being prosecuted, (In the mid 50%) though support for the war remained high, (in the upper 60%); That the administration needed to explain the goals and objectives, so that progress could be measured, (sort of like "No battle left behind"); and that other problem nations, (Iran, NK, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan), needed to be moved to the front burner of attention.

Truthfully, while I've criticised the admin for it's inability to communicate, I do think they had internally addressed these issues, but either didn't understand how serious it was to communicate or more likely, didn't trust the people enough by putting the information out, for whatever reasons. In any case, that was stamping 'game over' for the GOP.

I've seen nothing since 2001 to convince me that the Dems are less tone deaf than the administration. They show no more ability to hear from the people than the current officeholders. Pelosi's, 'This is not a war to win, but a situation to be solved,' does not bode well in light of over 3 years of polling that indicate the citizenry by and large realize that while the enemy is determined, the need to fight and win is imperative. The real question is 'how?'

I think the next two years will bring an administration alternatively using Dem cut and run, while continuing to antagonize their 'enemy'-the Democratic Party, ignoring the real enemy-Islam. The legislative branch will likewise attack, investigate, and obstruct wherever they can: domestically, with the war, and with foreign affairs. We will all pay alot for the above, while the real enemy regroups and our politicians continue the destruction from within.

On the other hand I think there will be 'lone voices of reason' from both sides. I also think that the infighting within the parties will marginalize these people, though the citizens will hear them-ala Lieberman. I do think the makings for either a third party or a new second party are already underway. (Keeping in mind that the Republican Party became the second party upon the collapse of the Whig Party-while never being a 'third party', it was replacement from within.)
 

Annie

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The following addresses some of the same issues, in different directions. It's certainly more upbeat than I'm feeling. There are links:

http://instapundit.com/archives2/2006/11/post_247.php

November 10, 2006

I NOTED EARLIER that Ann Althouse is depressed about the elections, and looking around it seems that a lot of people feel that way. Well, I understand that, God knows. But one iron rule of elections is that you win some and you lose some. And people tend to exaggerate their importance and, if they're on the losing side, catastrophize.

I remember lots of gloom-and-doom and catastrophization in the gun rights community ten or twelve years ago. Defeat seemed inexorable, the media were all on the other side, the politicians who were supposed to be on the right side of the issue couldnt' be trusted, the electorate seemed easily manipulated, and --- well, enough. Sound familiar?

Ten years later the Democrats won't touch the gun issue, right-to-carry laws are passing in state after state, and the "assault weapons ban" -- once seen as the camel's nose in the tent -- has expired. How did that happen? Not because of gloom and doom, but because people worked to make it happen: worked politically, worked in terms of communications and media, worked in terms of not getting discouraged but just plugging away. Want the electorate to come around to your views? You've got to persuade them. Over the years, I've seen this hold true for one issue after another.

Is this a "detached and academic" perspective? Well, I am an academic, after all, and I'd probably be detached about the end of the world, which this isn't. Maybe I "lack fire," but I think it's a realistic perspective, borne of experience. It's okay to feel bad for a while. Maybe it's even therapeutic. But ultimately, things happen because people want to make them happen, and work to make it so.

Meanwhile I note that Rush Limbaugh, who was complaining about my pre-mortem before, now says he feels "liberated" because he's able to say things like . . . what I said back before the election. Well, better late than never, but one problem with the GOP is that it lost touch with the things it was supposed to stand for, and a little more tough love from Limbaugh before the election might have done some good.
posted at 08:43 AM by Glenn Reynolds
 

Annie

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and another take on the 'misreadings' that appear underway. Links:

http://austinbay.net/blog/?p=1521

11/9/2006
Tet 2006
Filed under:

* General

— site admin @ 9:05 am

No, I don’t think so, but my views may not reflect the “Waziristan cave assessment” of the US 2006 elections.

StrategyPage considers the issue:

One of the immediate things known in the wake of the American November elections is that the media strategy employed by al Qaeda has succeeded. Having failed to disrupt three elections in Iraq, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups fought to hang in there, and shifted their aim to American newsrooms.

It was a logical choice. In 1968, the Tet Offensive led many in the media to believe that the war in Vietnam was failing. The most famous pronouncement was Walter CronkiteÂ’s declaration that the war was a stalemate. Lost in the media defeatism was the fact that American and South Vietnamese troops won the battle, and had delivered a crippling blow to the Viet Cong. Similarly, in 1993, American forces won a firefight with Somalian militias under warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid – but CNN footage of American casualties being dragged through the street led to a perception of defeat.​



Note StrategyPage emphasizes “media strategy.” Read the entire post.

Also, read Ralph PetersÂ’ latest.

Excerpt:

THE Democratic dog just caught the Iraqi firetruck itÂ’s been chas ing for almost four years. Now what?

Wetting the back tires wonÂ’t be enough. The victorious partyÂ’s hard-left wing is anxious for an American humiliation. But thatÂ’s not what the majority of Democrats want and itÂ’s a scenario that Dems on Capitol Hill, eyes on 2008, know they need to avoid.

Most Dem leaders realize that, with just a few missteps, Iraq could become their debacle. Their problem is that they never formulated a serious plan for Iraq. All rhetoric and no specifics, they just ran against the administrationÂ’s bungling. And Defense Secretary Donald RumsfeldÂ’s long-overdue resignation yesterday robbed them of an obvious target. Now they have to deliver - or at least appear to be trying.

ItÂ’s going to be hard. The political aim of the Democrats will be to continue talking a good game while avoiding responsibility through ‘08.​



A biting point by Peters:

In the bizarre political confusion of our times, with old party characterizations nearly meaningless, one crucial factor that shaped the Iraq effort went unnoticed: Neither party understands warfare, and neither party wants to.

Political correctness shaped the Bush administrationÂ’s approach to military operations as decisively as it did the Clinton administrationÂ’s pop-gun antics. The Bush bunch just did things on a larger scale - they wanted a war, but didnÂ’t want to hurt anybody.​



I think my assessment of the Bush Administration’s second and third tier defense appointments (on the latest Instapundit/PajamasMedia Glenn and Helen podcast) reinforce this point. The Bush Administration prepared to fight a Beltway war for Pentagon modernization, not a global, multi-dimensional war. Rumsfeld loaded up with sophisticated Beltway Clerks like Paul Wolfowitz, etc — excellent choices for fighting Congress. 9/11 blindsided these best laid plans. Rumsfeld needed to clean house of the clerks and bring in warfighters. (The podcast mentions this article, “Grunt Work.” Dated August 26, 2001.)

Peters concludes with this:

So what now?

Advice to the Dems: YouÂ’ve won. Congratulations. Now get your extremists under control and assess Iraq honestly. And donÂ’t just mew about supporting our troops - do it.

Advice to the Bush administration: DonÂ’t take desperate measures in Iraq without thinking them all the way through. Mr. President, sit down one-on-one with the two- stars who command or commanded in Iraq - the fighting generals - without any Defense Department apparatchiks manipulating what you hear. Listen to the unfiltered truth.

Advice to Sen. McCain: Ask the tough questions before either the administration or the Democrats on the Hill make a bad situation worse in Iraq. Our government needs adult supervision. YouÂ’re it.
Read the entire essay.
 

Avatar4321

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The election was a big deal no matter what anyone says. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise.

This may have been a conservative rebellion but it still hurt the conservative cause.
 

Annie

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The election was a big deal no matter what anyone says. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise.

This may have been a conservative rebellion but it still hurt the conservative cause.

After a great deal of thought, over more than 6 months, I voted Republican, with some exceptions on local and gubernatoral race-for either cynical or local reasons. Others seemed to have differnly, but how the parties will read the vote, well only time will tell. Following is an optomistic take. Links:

http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?entry=4917
Election 2006: Republicans binge and purge
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, November 09, 2006

The election

The Democrats said: “Had enough?”

The Republicans said: “It could be worse!”

The voters said: “Let’s find out.”

The lesson

I say the American people didn't quit on the Contract with America, we did. And in so doing, we severed the bonds of trust between our party and millions of our most ardent supporters.

As the 110th Congress convenes next year, Republicans must cordially accept defeat and dedicate ourselves to advancing our cause as the loyal opposition knowing that the only way to retake our natural, governing majority, is to renew our commitment to limited government, national defense, traditional values and reform. [Congressman Mike Pence]

The opportunity

Now it is time to show that same party and the politicians in it, and coming into it, what we can do to help them. That means identifying those whom you think have earned or deserve your support, and then providing it - in time, encouragement, money, public approbation, and votes.

Many have questioned the merits of voting out wayward Republicans, only to replace them with a Democratic Party even less interested in limited government and libertarian ideals. The phrase "lesser of two evils" was employed liberally.

We'll learn shortly why that was incorrect.

There is a 'game theory' rationale for voting (as Dale did) for a third party or even a "greater evil" candidate. If elections were simply discrete, binary choices whose effects were limited to each individual term, then it would always make sense to vote for the lesser of two evils.

However — and we're about to see this — losing has an important effect on Parties. Voting against Republicans in 2006 will change the options we have in 2008. Instead of indefinite status quo, we're almost certainly going to have a rejuvenated Republican Party working on a return to their limited government ideals.

If we just kept reelecting the same old GOP, that would not happen. Incentives matter. As Bill Quick wrote, "Be of good cheer. The Republicans will be back in 2008, and much better for what happened to them in 2006."

As a first step toward that end, the upcoming Republican leadership elections will bear watching.

The length of time that the GOP is forced to wander in the wilderness will depend upon (a) how seriously they take this rebuke, and (b) how well they can capture the public imagination with a serious, "Contract with America" style agenda of reform aimed at limiting their own power, lest they fall back into the "power corrupts" trap.

Much like he did with the previous House Majority Leader election, NZ Bear is setting up a page on which people can submit questions for the new leader candidates. However, based on what I've seen and read for some time now, I would be very comfortable endorsing and working for a Republican Party led by Mike Pence and John Shadegg.

Red State will have more on this next set of choices. Instapundit already has some coverage. Pay attention. The direction the Republicans choose will define the nature of every forthcoming election for some time.
 

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Yes, but i dont want Conservatives to think this was alright, because if people think its no big deal they wont change.
 

Hobbit

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I think it was a conservative rebellion. I mean, look at where the Republicans actually gained. In Georgia, where the Republicans are still very conservative, they have gained a near monopoly on government. We now have the first Republican Lt. Governor and the first Republican Sec. of State in the history of GA.

As for it being 'no big deal,' I get what you're saying, but you might want to rephrase it. It is a big deal, but it's not a 'liberal victory' or a 'historical election.' This is actually typical of 2nd midterm elections, but it could have bucked the trend in the Republicans had stuck with their base.
 

Annie

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I agree that numberwise, the election wasn't 'that big of a deal.' I think it's more than likely that the practical results of this just past election may be huge and not necessarily what either party expects.

In many ways so far, both have taken steps or made some pronouncements that may indicate they did not comprehend the messages that voters may have been trying to send.

Did Bush really plan on Rumsfeld's resignation while saying different? I think so. His rationale? 'He didn't want to throw a curve or October surprise into the races.' What did independents, the moderate Democrats and GOP base 'hear'? I think that the president was going to continue with the WOT and they voted accordingly.

That view lost at the polls. So what does the president do the next day? Throws Rummy overboard, announces his replacement to be a retread from his dad's administration. Making the announcement 'weeks/months' before, when the decision to replace was made, may have saved a few seats in the House. Even while acting so quickly, Bush still failed to say 'what changes' he has in mind, I guess he's waiting for Baker or Pelosi to tell him. :dunno: Still no clarity.

On the other hand, we have democrats who are assuming they have a mandate, though I'm pretty sure that other than their regular base, that isn't the message many of the moderate democrats, disenchanted moderate Republicans, and independents were trying to send.

Poll after poll, since early 2005 have indicated that the average US citizen did not approve of how the war was being prosecuted, (In the mid 50%) though support for the war remained high, (in the upper 60%); That the administration needed to explain the goals and objectives, so that progress could be measured, (sort of like "No battle left behind"); and that other problem nations, (Iran, NK, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan), needed to be moved to the front burner of attention.

Truthfully, while I've criticised the admin for it's inability to communicate, I do think they had internally addressed these issues, but either didn't understand how serious it was to communicate or more likely, didn't trust the people enough by putting the information out, for whatever reasons. In any case, that was stamping 'game over' for the GOP.

I've seen nothing since 2001 to convince me that the Dems are less tone deaf than the administration. They show no more ability to hear from the people than the current officeholders. Pelosi's, 'This is not a war to win, but a situation to be solved,' does not bode well in light of over 3 years of polling that indicate the citizenry by and large realize that while the enemy is determined, the need to fight and win is imperative. The real question is 'how?'

I think the next two years will bring an administration alternatively using Dem cut and run, while continuing to antagonize their 'enemy'-the Democratic Party, ignoring the real enemy-Islam. The legislative branch will likewise attack, investigate, and obstruct wherever they can: domestically, with the war, and with foreign affairs. We will all pay alot for the above, while the real enemy regroups and our politicians continue the destruction from within.

On the other hand I think there will be 'lone voices of reason' from both sides. I also think that the infighting within the parties will marginalize these people, though the citizens will hear them-ala Lieberman. I do think the makings for either a third party or a new second party are already underway. (Keeping in mind that the Republican Party became the second party upon the collapse of the Whig Party-while never being a 'third party', it was replacement from within.)


The more I read and think, the more I believe both the parties are missing what is going on here. Links for other very good ruminations:

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/015852.php
November 10, 2006
If...

I saw Donald Rumsfeld speak for the first time when I was working as an intern in 1969 for then-Senator Walter Mondale. Rumsfeld was serving his fourth term as a congressman from Illinois' 13th District and spoke to a group of interns in a presentation that my roommate and I attended. He spoke about his service as a Navy aviator (he continued to serve in the reserve until he became Secretary of Defense under President Ford in 1975) and about how he had come to run for Congress at the age of 29 in 1962.

A few days later we went to see the movie "If..." at a sold-out showing in Georgetown. The movie is a bizarre blend of fantasy and reality. After the movie we noticed Rumsfeld among the crowd streaming out of the theater. My roommate shouted to him, "Mr. Rumsfeld, what did you think of the movie?" "I didn't get it," he said with a bemused shrug of his shoulders. I can still see it in my mind's eye and it's a memory that has caused me to resist the media's portrait of Rumsfeld's allegedly unpleasant personal qualities. He has been a remarkable public servant for most of his adult life and I don't think anyone has yet taken the measure of his service. Victor Davis Hanson pays tribute to his tenure as Secretary of Defense under President Bush here and a bit more here.

Today's New York Times carries the administration's account of the timing and thought behind Rumsfeld's termination. Why would the Bush administration choose to use the New York Times as the channel for its account of Rumsfeld's departure? That's not a question that Diana West answers in her Washington Times column on Rumsfeld's resignation, but it may be implicit in it. Daniel Henninger has related thoughts in his weekly Wall Street Journal column. Henninger writes: "George Bush's foreign policy is at a tipping point." And I think that the president may be wavering.
Posted by Scott at 07:16 AM
 

Rico

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George W. is just as politically tone deaf as George H.W. was. It's almost as if the Bush's either think we can read their minds or they think the populus is just too stupid to understand their nuances. Neither W nor his pappy can communicate "come here" from "sickem" to a dog. That's the problem of this administration. Never let their positions be known and never counter the Dims lying. Sad. Either stupid, arrogant, or both..
 

KarlMarx

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The Republicans blundered almost from the word "go"...

They let the Dems get away with too much (I'm still sore about the Republians letting the opportunity to change the rule on cloture votes go, Sandy Berger)... on the

They let the Dems have a one sided conversation on all political issues, from gay marriage to SS reform

They worried more about political strategy than sticking to their principles (and George Bush is now selling us all out, watch, he's going to act like a trained dog for the next two years)

Republicans got too complacent, they wanted to accomodate the Dems, in fact they let the Dems dictate the direction of the political debate... instead of the Republicans running things, they were constantly in reaction mode to the latest Democrat attack.

Plus, they let
Another thing is that the Dems are great at getting their ideas across to people... they're great sloganeers
"Bush lied, People Died"
"No war for oil"
"Tax cut for the rich"
"Culture of Corruption"

how many others were there? The Republicans should have done the same.

I don't think people in general seem to want to hear the lengthy explanations of why limited government works, why we have to win the war on terror... they need to be given simple ideas that they can run with. I know what I sound like... but that seems to be the lesson of the past two years.

What does this mean? It means that conservative voters will be looking for real conservatives to send to Washington.. having an "R" after your name will simply not be enough.

And what is this bunch of Republicans now doing? Trying to work with the Congress.. oh my... that's like the convict helping the firing squad load their rifles....
 

Nienna

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Here's a perspective on why the Dems won...

"There is a sense in which the Republicans had it coming," Sirico told CitizenLink. "When you lose your identity, when you induce people to vote for you for a strong moral agenda and then become anemic about speaking about moral issues, it should come as no surprise that the constituency you developed under the one message is dissipated under the second."

http://www.citizenlink.org/CLtopstories/A000003001.cfm
 

ScreamingEagle

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I think this election was a big deal signal from the people for the death of "compassionate" conservatism and if the Republicans want to win next time they better be "crystal clear" conservatives. :whip3:
 

deaddude

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Wait and see what happens. Personally I perfer the legislative and executive branches to be split politically. It makes comprimise more likely and gives both parties someone to bitch about.
 

Avatar4321

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Wait and see what happens. Personally I perfer the legislative and executive branches to be split politically. It makes comprimise more likely and gives both parties someone to bitch about.

What is all of this talk about compromise? If someone proposes a stupid idea, do we really want our politicians to compromise on it for the sake of appearing on middle ground?

You cant compromise with bad ideas, you have to defeat them.
 

Rico

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Wait and see what happens. Personally I perfer the legislative and executive branches to be split politically. It makes comprimise more likely and gives both parties someone to bitch about.

"To bitch about"? WTF is that? Compromise? Why? If one believes his position correct then to compromise is to give in to error.
 

deaddude

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"To bitch about"? WTF is that? Compromise? Why? If one believes his position correct then to compromise is to give in to error.

because no one is right 100% of the time. because forcing them to compromise curbs spending. because our nation is founded on compromise.
 

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