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The ghost of Jimmy Carter walks again

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday January 7, 2006 03:47 PM

According to a recent AP-Ipsos poll, the country is ready for a change -- and who could blame 'em? Respondents favored, by 49% to 36%, the idea of Democrats taking control of Congress. Talk about a Desperation Index.

Looks like a minor Jimmy Carter moment in the making -- one of those cases where the Democrats, quite undeservedly, get a turn at the trough, thanks to some spectacular series of blunders on the part of the Republicans.

I have argued that this is the rule rather than the exception -- that since the Civil War, the Republican Party has been for all practical purposes the ruling party, and the Democrats only get a turn when the Republicans screw up. On one occasion -- the Roosevelt era -- the interval of Democratic hegemony lasted long enough to look like a change in the pattern; but in retrospect, this was clearly the exception that proves the rule.

The current crop of Democrats don't have anybody in the hopper with FDR's gifts, and the public -- alas -- is still not in quite such an insurrectionary mood as they were in 1932. And if they were, the Democrats -- authors of NAFTA and the current health insurance nightmare, co-authors of the Patriot Act, the Iraq war, and CAFTA -- would quite rightly have as much to fear as the Republicans.

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