The Texas redistricting decision is going to make it tough sledding for the Democrats to take back the House.
11:00 PM, Jan 7, 2004 • By HUGH HEWITT
NANCY PELOSI was upset after the federal appeals court upheld the new congressional districting map for the Lone Star State Tuesday: "This is just the latest attempt by President Bush, Tom Delay, and other Republicans to dismantle the Voting Rights Act. The Texas redistricting plan shows once again that when Republicans cannot win elections fair and square, they rig the rules."
Then Pelosi went Alamo: "We will fight to the finish for Texas."
That's a wonderful image: The hyper-lefty from San Francisco leading a crusade to turn Texas into a Democratic state. I hope someone brings a video camera. Sore loser rhetoric, of course, but amusing in the extreme considering that the redistricting battle has always been about undoing a deeply unfair incumbent protection plan cooked up by judges that saddled overwhelmingly Republican Texas with a Democratic majority in its Congressional delegation. What's lovely to watch is the attempt by the suddenly soon-to-be-retired Texas Democrats to hang their outrage on the Voting Rights Act.
Martin Frost, a now very endangered Texas Democrat, hit the highest note: "The real victims are some 3.6 million Hispanics and African-Americans in Texas, and minority Americans across the nation whose fundamental voting rights will no longer be protected by federal law if the U.S. Supreme Court allows this radical, dangerous, and far-reaching decision to stand."
The immediate political consequences of the new Texas map aren't getting enough study because of their inside-baseball nature. (It is an essay for another day how such self-serving rhetoric encourages minority communities to indulge in victim-think.)
The new map locks the current Republican domination of the House into place at least until 2012 and probably until 2022. It is hard to see where Democrats can find a population trend sufficiently large to undo the 30 to 40 seat margin the GOP should have after the dust clears in November.
K Street has done the math by now, and expect the checks to continue flowing to the victors and to increase in velocity and size. Republicans remember well what it was like to be the distinct minority in the House without a prayer of majority status. The lean years are coming to the House Democrats, and they won't be limited to seven. As a result, expect more retirements from the aging warriors of the left. The absolute best part of dynamic is the reduction of Henry Waxman to the status of third-tier cable guest.
Combine this breakthrough to enduring majority status in the House with the retirement of Democratic Senate incumbents in Florida, Georgia, both Carolinas, and Louisiana, the Thune challenge to Daschle in South Dakota, and the embarrassing candidacies of Murray and Boxer on the West Coast, and it would be amazing if Terry McAuliffe slept a wink last night. He already owns the title of worst national party chairman in history, and he's obliged to stay on through the fall.
It is funny listening to Wesley Clark talk about his tax plans. He wants to raise the top bracket to 45 percent, an idea which would be DOA in the next Congress. The same goes for all the sweeping plans of Dean, Kerry, et al. When will the media ask these statesmen-in-the-cocoon how, as president, they would deal with Tom DeLay after attempting to demonize him all these months?