Thank goodness it is over. It sure looked close, but with hindsight it really never was as close as it seemed.
It was a colossal waste of money. When will the public wake up to the pointlessness and waste in campaign finance? Just saying no to all contribution requests could help a lot. For example, one small population state, Montana, saw $50 million spent, which budged no needles. Good for TV stations, but no one else.
There were surely several ugly under themes in the election: party politics trumping national interest; real but covert racism; repetition of fabricated “facts” creating wicked distortions; constant painting over personal portraits; media convergence on apparent trend changes making them appear more real than they were.
The most damaging aspect of the aftermath is the absence of any clear-cut mandate rising from such a murky debate about the real and serious problems facing the nation.
While the president can take the result as a decisive choice by the country to stay the course with his policies and plans, it is less clear that he can carry the day with a Republican House determined to prevent him from implementing his plans, particularly with respect to the fiscal cliff.
That said, the first order of business should be to quickly and visibly resurface Messrs. Simpson and Bowles and present to the Congress their now completed plan, which is 1,000 pages of legislative drafts, and demand that it be passed by December first.
The moderate Republicans who were strong-armed a year ago by the Tea Partiers to block a grand bargain then should be ripe now to give up the now defeated party mantra of “do not allow him any victory and that will drive him from office.”
If the president can now strong-arm the Congress to pass a close version of the original Simpson-Bowles plan, the election will have been a success and the headwinds we have been facing should swing to become tailwinds, making the next four years fair sailing.