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Waiting for Obama

Realignment Watch

Harold Meyerson writes in his Washington Post opinion column: "[E]ight years after Karl Rove stormed into Washington proclaiming that he would create a 21st-century version of the Republican realignment that emerged from William McKinley's victory over William Jennings Bryan in 1896, today's emerging Republican minority looks confined to Bryan's base in America's rural backwaters. The future in American politics belongs to the party that can win a more racially diverse, better educated, more metropolitan electorate. It belongs to Barack Obama's Democrats."

Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times opinion column: "Right now, many commentators are urging Mr. Obama to think small. Some make the case on political grounds: America, they say, is still a conservative country, and voters will punish Democrats if they move to the left. Others say that the financial and economic crisis leaves no room for action on, say, health care reform.

"Let's hope that Mr. Obama has the good sense to ignore this advice.

"About the political argument: Anyone who doubts that we've had a major political realignment should look at what's happened to Congress. After the 2004 election, there were many declarations that we'd entered a long-term, perhaps permanent era of Republican dominance. Since then, Democrats have won back-to-back victories, picking up at least 12 Senate seats and more than 50 House seats. They now have bigger majorities in both houses than the G.O.P. ever achieved in its 12-year reign.

"Bear in mind, also, that this year's presidential election was a clear referendum on political philosophies -- and the progressive philosophy won."

MSNBC's Chris Matthews declares Karl Rove "the biggest loser of the year. Karl Rove thought he could build a Republican party by dividing the country, by grabbing what he thought was the cultural right of this country, and using it to build a majority of the country, that this would be a permanent Republican majority based upon division, by harsh choices, the people had to choose between being patriotic or not, being for wars or not, being with the cultural values of the right or not."

Guest Michael Crowley of the New Republic responds: "You know, Rove got his big realignment in the end. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong direction. Better luck next time."

Not Dead Yet

Renee Schoof writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "In the next few weeks, the Bush administration is expected to relax environmental-protection rules on power plants near national parks, uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and more mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia.

"The administration is widely expected to try to get some of the rules into final form by the week before Thanksgiving because, in some cases, there's a 60-day delay before new regulations take effect. And once the rules are in place, undoing them generally would be a more time-consuming job for the next Congress and administration."

The New York Times editorial board writes about the federal Bureau of Land Management's revived plan to sell oil and gas leases in pristine wilderness areas in eastern Utah that have long been protected from development.

"This sort of pillage would be hard to justify even if Utah's reserves were large enough to make a difference, which they are not. . . .

"This is but the latest of President Bush's last-minute assaults on the environment. The incoming Obama administration will have to quickly review and reverse these decisions or find ways to mitigate the damage."

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