GOP should be careful what it wishes for
This is going to be a long night. I think we can count on some real surprises -- somebody who wasn't supposed to win is going to squeak by, someone who wasn't even thought to be in danger will lose. But so far, I'm not sure we've seen any signs or heard any rumblings that would reverse the narrative we've been spinning for months now: Good night for Republicans, bad night for Democrats.
Except for one circumstance: This may be the rare moment when the saying "be careful what you wish for" actually applies.
Usually, it doesn't. Usually people who get what they wish are happy with the result. But if the GOP actually takes control of the House, let alone the Senate, it's going to have enough of an internal struggle that it might barely have time or energy for the promised showdown with President Obama.
Already, presumptive senator-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a Tea Party darling, has spoken of how he will challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell tried his best to deny Paul the nomination, believing he couldn't win. Now that he has, in fact, won, there's no love lost between the two men. Paul, if he chooses, will be able to take advantage of Senate rules that allow a single senator to bring the chamber's progress on any given piece of legislation to a screeching halt. McConnell will have to spend a lot of time managing that relationship.
If Republicans take the House, presumptive Speaker John Boehner would be able to run a tighter and more efficient ship. But he would be accompanied, or saddled, by a passel of newly arrived Tea Party types who will push for an immediate vote on repealing health-care reform, repealing financial reform, and down the line until the House gets to vote on repealing the whole last 22 months.
If Boehner resists, how will the Tea Partyers react? Will they stick with the Republicans two years from now?
In politics it's better to win than lose. But sometimes, the difference can be pretty small.
| November 2, 2010; 7:33 PM ET
Categories: Robinson | Tags: Eugene Robinson
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