Friday, November 10, 2006

St. Louis Got the Best of Me 

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

After Thump, Rummie Dumped 

With the Republicans taking a "thumping" in the mid-term congressional elections yesterday, the president fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The announcement of Rumsfeld's overdue departure came at the Bush's press conference early this afternoon, which is a single that his administration is finally bending to public opposition to the Iraq war. The president used the word "thumping" to describe the Republican Party's defeat, which included more than two dozen House seats and a half dozen senatorial contests.

The president prompted dispelled, however, any idea that real change would take place in his foreign policy by nominating Robert Gates, a former CIA director and Iran-Contra figure, to head the Pentagon.

God on His Side 

In the end you could see it in his eyes, the tone of his voice and the way he held himself: Republican Senator Jim Talent didn't want to win. He had resigned himself to defeat before Tuesday's upset.

The tip off came in the incumbent's last TV ads. Gone were the attacks on his oppenent, the shrill accusations, the crude allegation tarring his opponent Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill and her husband and family and their dog. Those ads, paid for by the national Republican Party, were straight out of the play book of Bush's Evil Brain, Karl Rove, and Talent had tired of cutting deals with the devil to retain power.

The bells are ringing outside in the Irish-American neighborhood in which I live here in this old Midwestern city on the banks of the Mississippi, and the sky at dawn has cleared after days of gloom. With the clearing, there is a palpable sense of relief, as if a curse had finally been broken. And it was in Talent's final campaign commercial that glimmer of hope first appeared, a harbinger of a change in the current of public life in Missouri and the nation.

He stands alone among a grove silver maples, their fall colors a brilliant yellow hue. Talent looks at the camera, his head slightly downcast, hands jammed in his pockets, dressed in a casual fall wardrobe that makes him appear like he is a model posing for a JC Penney catalouge. And like a model on a photo shoot, he stands rigid. The camera stays at mid distance, tentative in its approach, seemingly afraid to move closer. As he speaks in generalities about family values and Missouri's destiny, his voice is muted. There is no fire in his oratory. And that, of course, is how the ad was made to appear. But what also inadvertently comes out in the ad is Talent's longing to done with it all. He is a beaten man. He is beaten not so much by his opponent, but by his own allies and their misguided decisions to "stay the course" in Iraq.

When the boyish Jim Talent looked in the lens of the camera, the public saw a plea for help, a begging for forgiveness, and he was granted those requests on Tuesday. Jim Talent doesn't have to hang out with the wrong crowd anymore. He can take his ball and go home. He will no longer have to associate himself with the ilk who have lied to the American people repeatedly and brought shame on the country. The men and women who he has sent to Iraq to kill or be killed have not been given such an easy reprieve. They remain there today carrying out their duties as they did yesterday, and the day before, and last year and the year before that. Some of them returning to battle more than once, separated from their friends, families and loved ones.

Jim Talent has gone home. When will they?

McCaskill Invokes Truman in Victory Speech 

With a 85 percent of the Missouri precincts reporting and holding only a one percentage point lead, Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, l declared victory at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday Nov. 8. Speaking before a partisan crowd in downtown St. Louis at the Renaissance Hotel, McCaskill, 53, invoked the memory of Missourian Harry S Truman, saying that the late president and senator would be proud of that the Democratic Party had reclaimede the senate seat he once held. Incumbent Republican Senator Jim Talent conceded minutes later.

The McCaskill victory in Missouri may swing the balance of power in both chambers of the Congress to the Democratic Party, after wins earlier Tuesday placed the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives.

The Democratic sweep is widely seen as a referendum against President George W. Bush and his policies, including the war in Iraq.

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