I pulled jury duty once. I learned a lot about our judicial system, mainly that reading Cracked and porn magazines during the selection process is not enough to keep you from getting picked and that if jury selection drags on for a long time and you end up being the last person agreed on, you might walk into the deliberations room to discover that some gallant went ahead and ate your court-provided lunch for you. So my best advice to Steve is to embrace the whole thing with open arms. I wish I had some advice like that for the newly empowered Democrats, but the concept is still so strange and new to me that my mind's a blank. Actually, that might have something to do with the spontaneous celebration I was at when the news broke last night when I was still at work. If anyone has any good tips on dealing with a champagne hangover, don't feel there's any need to keep them to yourself.
This is of course a time for modesty, quiet reflection, and reaching out respectfully to the other side, so that hubris does not overwhelm us. Good thing that's Pelosi's job. I'm so busy working on this mental image I have of President Bush curled up in the fetal position under tear-soaked sheets that it's a wonder that I have enough enough leftover cognitive function to tie my shoelaces properly. (Actually, I just looked down at my feet, and you can scratch that.) George Bush is a child who has no way to judge success or failure on any level beyond "My mandate's bigger than yours!" I have a terrible feeling that he really does look at his pointless, never-ending, bloody mess in Iraq and see it as a Job-like trial that we all have to suffer through so that he can impress God with his steadfastness. But after all his strutting and talk of "political capital", all of it based on numbers a lot less solid than most of last night's results, it's hard to see how even he can "explain" that the loss of the House and the other fallout doesn't really reflect anything he has to take into account. Which isn't to say that he won't try, and that it won't be big fun to see him try. But make no mistake, George: you have risen high, and like Joseph McCarthy, Pol Pot, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, you will always have your little share of cowed, deluded admirers, but as an electorate, a country, a universe, we don't like you. We really don't like you!
Knowing that George needs a firm hand to help him govern, the dear little fella, the media has always been eager to try to provide him with a map. Remember when, in the wake of his 2000 non-election, the media was full of confident predictions that, being a moderate and temperament gentleman who was not unaware that he was kind of a dumbass, Bush would of course go out of his way to govern "from the middle," and pack his cabinet with like-minded non-ideological types, probably including a number of Democrats, and depend heavily on their seasoned counsel. Watching the first TV reports after the House tipped last night, I got the impression that the media was signalling that now might be a good time to start pretending that the last six years didn't really happen and we can all be friends now. One theme I heard a couple of times is that this shouldn't be a problem for George since he used to be governor of Texas, and in that position he showed that he was just great at working with Democrats and indeed "enjoyed doing it." Yes, and since those innocent days he's defaced our country's heritage, founding philosophies, moral stature and international reputation while calling the people he now has to work with a pack of whining traitors. With all due respect to the Gandhis of this world, how much respect could you really have for people who could just laugh that off?
Bush's last two years in office would most likely have been an extended thumb-twiddling period if he'd retained all the power in the world; after the multiple disasters of the first year of his second term (Katrina, Teri Schiavo, Social Security, et al., never mind Iraq's death of a thousand cuts), he seems to have decided that the best way to take care of what he loves and cares about most, himself, is to just wait out the clock and leave as horrible a mess as possible for whatever poor schlub replaces him. If the change in circumstances re-energizes him, it'll most likely be in the worst way possible; given how well he's always reacted to any kind of reality check, it's easy to expect that he'll spend his last two years in snarling attack dog mode, working hard to undermine any attempt Congress launches to get anything done, just to make himself feel relevant. But if he tries to orchestrate a honeymoon period, going up to the Hill and muttering, "Wow--poor Max Cleland, huh? And how 'bout those Swift Boat bastards, huh? I sure don't know what anybody was thinking there, you know. I barely know what's been going on around here lately, I just switched medications myself. So--friends?"--well, at least it'll be funny. And he might just have the honor of being played by Chevy Chase on Law & Order.