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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Intellectual Dishonesty Personified: Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer, November 9, 2004, on Bush's 2004 victory:

Later than most two-term presidents, George Bush got his mandate. . . . This election was a referendum on Bush's handling of his first, accidental mandate. The endorsement was resounding. . . .

Second, there was the popular vote. Bush supporters should not gloat too much about the popular vote, given the fact that they lost it last time. Nonetheless, if you have already won the electoral vote, it is OK to talk about the popular vote as a kind of adjunct legitimizer. And a 3 1/2 million vote margin is a serious majority.


The results of the 2006 election:

Candidates planning to caucus with the Democrats took 24 of the 33 Senate seats at stake this year, winning seven million more votes than Republicans. In House races, Democrats received about 53 percent of the two-party vote, giving them a margin more than twice as large as the 2.5-percentage-point lead that Mr. Bush claimed as a “mandate” two years ago — and the margin would have been even bigger if many Democrats hadn’t been running unopposed.


Charles Krauthammer today, on the 2006 victory by Democrats:

On Tuesday Democrats took control of the House and the Senate. As of this writing, they won 29 House seats (with a handful still in the balance), slightly below the post 1930 average for the six-year itch in a two-term presidency. They took the Senate by the thinnest of margins -- a one-vote majority, delivered to them by a margin of 8,942 votes in Virginia and 2,847 in Montana. . . .

Nonetheless, the difference between taking one house vs. both -- and thus between normal six-year incumbent-party losses and a major earthquake that shakes the presidency -- was razor-thin in this election. A switch of just 1,424 votes in Montana would have kept the Senate Republican. . . .

But the great Democratic wave of 2006 is nothing remotely like the great structural change some are trumpeting. It was an event-driven election that produced the shift of power one would expect when a finely balanced electorate swings mildly one way or the other.

To recap:

The 2004 victory by President George W. Bush with a margin of 3.5 million votes (and by one closely decided state) was a "resounding endorsement" and a glorious triumph that vests the President with a powerful and clear "mandate." That was a "serious majority."

The 2006 victory by Democrats with a margin of 7 million votes was a victory by the "thinnest of margins" and was "razor-thin." It was a banal and weak outcome that was even "slightly below the post 1930 average for the six-year itch in a two-term presidency," and it was nothing more notable or meaningful than "an event-driven election that produced the shift of power one would expect when a finely balanced electorate swings mildly one way or the other."

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