But my big question is how long the Democrats can refrain from becoming appalling.
Too late, but you only missed by a few decades.
When the Republicans took control in 1994, even those of us who were saddened about what the change would do to the Clinton agenda had to admit the Democrats had it coming. They’d been in power most of the time since the New Deal, and had become way too arrogant and inward-looking. They didn’t believe the public would punish them, either for corruption or for ignoring the voters’ complaints and concerns.
Okay, so the early 90s was the time when I really started smoking crack, as opposed to the three or four times daily of the previous five years, so maybe it's my memory that's faulty, but the Clinton agenda? Wasn't that the one whose cornerstone was National Health Care, which was shot down by the Democratically-controlled Congress? And the colossal stink over Don't Ask/Don't Tell, the sorry-assed Fish Nor Fowl non-solution reportedly spurred by fears of what the Democratically-controlled Senate might do in response to an executive order?
A bit simplistic, sure, but our point is how did the '94 midterms make a politically-savvy reporter fear for an agenda which was already in shreds and a Presidency which was already encircled by Clinton Scandals, Inc., spurred on by egregiously erroneous Times reporting by
And the rest, if anything, leaves us more puzzled. Arrogant and corrupt those Democrats may have been (but remarkably so, Gail? For Congress? Y'know, since you've already bought two scoops of Republican Revolution Hallucination, you can get our Rainbow-Winged Spumoni Pony for just $1.25 extra), but "didn't believe the voters would punish them"? This is the party which had turned tail and skedaddled at Reagan's shadow, and a dozen years later there still wasn't anyone rounding up stragglers. Bill Clinton his own self rose to national prominence in the mid-80s drive to Make Democrats Indistinguishable From Republicans. Okay, maybe they didn't think they could lose control of Congress, but Thinking About the Party comes in, at best, at #4 on any Congresscritter's list of things to worry about, and the first three are "Get myself reelected".
What surprised me was how fast the Republicans became worse. The bloom was off the rose before you could say Tom DeLay.
And if there's something just plain odd (read: "precise transcription of the GOP talking-points version of history") about that construction--not to mention the notion of that Post-Reagan Revolution, post-Dixiecrat defection, DLC-heyday deficit-cutting Democratic Congress as the direct descendants of the New Deal--the idea that one would be flabbergasted by the speed with which a "revolution" led by a congenital liar and transparent con man like Newt Gingrich could "turn into" Tom DeLay is simply off the charts. I mean, one did not need to be a Democrat (or even just an admirer of The Clinton Agenda), a skeptical reporter type, or even particularly well-versed in contemporary politics to know, long before '94, that Gingrich was a public scoundrel of the highest order. Anyone who actually believed The Contract with America was a "Contract" "with" "America" was too gullible to live. Hell, after that it took me three more years to once again accept "The" as an English article, but then I live next door to Danny Burton's district. For cryin' out loud. Forget policy, which is too wonkish and boring for most Times pundits; by 1994 the details of Newt's first divorce were widely disseminated. I'm sure they were familiar with that.
Speaking of which, hasn't Newton Leroy Cincinatus Gingrich spent enough time in the public arena? Isn't he supposed to be back t' plowin' by now? I mean in the fields, not in his publisher's secretarial pool.