Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Worst case scenario
The election turned out better than I dared hope for, but I still have one little bit of pessimism to unload. Right now the news is calling the Senate a 49-49 split with two races undecided. Those two are Montana and Virginia. The count actually has the Democrats, Tester and Webb, narrowly ahead in both races. The Montana race appears to be beyond the range of a recount, but it might be possible for Allen to get a recount in Virginia. Virginia law states that the election has to be certified before they start any recounts. That takes us up to the beginning of December. If Allen decides to call for multiple recounts and lawsuits he could drag this into January and beyond.

If the new Senate is sworn in without the junior Senator from Virginia, it will only have 99 members. That would seem to give the Democrats a 50-49 majority for the leadership vote. But that's not actually the case. Those fifty Senators, who most pundits are counting as Democrats, actually include two Independents, Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman. Sanders is no problem; he will caucus with the Democrats. Lieberman is another matter. Although he has said he will caucus with the Democrats, he is a very bitter man. That means the actual vote will be 49-49 with Lieberman holding the tie-breaker vote. There is a very good chance that he would throw the Senate back to the Republicans out of spite toward his Democratic colleagues who had the gall to support the Democratic nominee in Connecticut.

Why, you might ask, is this worse than the Republicans keeping power through an out and out majority? The Lieberman case is worse than that because it means Lieberman will be in our face twenty-four hours a day for the next two years. Both sides will have to suck up to him over the leadership vote. We will be subjected to the news outlets reporting every syllable of his Hamlet-like anguishing over the leadership vote. Whatever he does, we can be sure it will result in his getting a very public position from which to continue in his role as the chief moral scold of Congress. We will have to listen to his self-righteous and whiny sermons every day for the next two years.

Wouldn't you rather have a plain old Republican majority than a Republican majority starring Joe Lieberman? Me too.

PS - I'm a little rusty on the exact details of Senate procedure. It might be that this scenario isn't possible for some reason. If I'm wrong, I'll welcome the correction. Meanwhile, that's enough election pessimism for now. I'm going to find some nice things to talk about.

Update - The news networks are all calling the Montana race for Tester. Now if someone can just get Allen to give up.

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