JFK once said, “victory has a hundred fathers; defeat is an orphan.” But in the wake of Ed Gillespie’s stunning, landslide loss in the Virginia governor’s race, it looks like defeat has at least two fathers.
On today’s Morning Joe, Willie Geist reported:
“The Gillespie campaign was whispering to reporters that this vote was a repudiation of President Trump.”
Trump, in turn, laid the blame at the feet of Gillespie, tweeting “he did not embrace me.”
What are Republicans and conservative to make of a very bad Tuesday night? There’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is obvious: Republicans, to quote Barack Obama, got shellacked. Not just in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. But most notably in the Virginia House, where the Republicans’ 32-seat majority is in danger, subject to final counts, of being wiped out.
Any Republican who looks at the results and doesn’t worry about 2018 is an ostrich with his head in the sand, in deep denial, whistling past the graveyard and any other cliche you’d care to throw in.
So what could possibly be the good news? Simply, that we are not in 2018. The congressional elections are a year away. And to break out another bromide, if in politics a week is a lifetime, a year is an eon.
So Republicans have a chance to right the ship. Will they? Starting at the top, it’s hard to imagine that President Trump will have a moment of introspection, leading him to tone down his most counter-productive comments.
But the defeat will strengthen the hand of his advisers and of congressional Republicans who have been urging the president to cool his jets.
The defeat should also be a stark warning to those same Republicans in Congress: they need to put petty squabbles aside and pass some important legislation, starting with tax reform. If they do, and if President Trump revises his rhetoric, there’s still time to turn the 2018 tide.
If not, as mind-boggling as the prospect might be, prepare for the rumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin’ Nancy Pelosi to grab that Speaker’s gavel.