According to Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), nothing more focuses one’s mind than the prospect of hanging.

The House GOP minds seem quite focused now. Conversely, however, nothing freaks one’s mind out more than believing you are to be the hangman, only to discover you are the one to be hung. — RDM

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The Cost of Hubris and Gas

by Dr. Jack Wheeler
September 14, 2006

Over a bottle of Di Majo Norante SangioveseTuscan red wine last night, the chiefs of staff for two Republican Senators, the chief of staff of a Democrat Congressman, and I bantered over the fate of Capitol Hill.

The Democrat was crowing over soon-to-be Speaker Pelosi and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, who could hardly wait to launch impeachment proceedings against President Bush.  The Republicans enjoyed their wine and let him crow.  Then one of them lowered the boom.

“Dream all you want,” he said, “but on November 7, gas will be way below $2 a gallon and you’ll be kissing your majority goodbye.”

As I’m writing this, the Dow is less than 200 points away from its all time high:  11,722.98 on January 14, 2000.  Most any objective analyst will tell you that given corporate earnings, the Dow and the stock market as a whole are undervalued by at least 30%.

The US economy has a solid GDP growth of 3.5%, unemployment at 4.7% (which means effective full employment), and oil is headed to under $60 a barrel, perhaps under $50.  Almost every poll of voters registers the economy as the number one issue affecting their vote.

So what if, on election day, the Dow has surged to a new record high, while folks see a “1” instead of “2” on the price sign at their local gas station?

It might well be enough to dispel the voters’ mood of determined sourness which is blurring their vision, enabling them to see the lethal nightmare of turning over their country’s security to the Hate America Left.

This is especially true of the House.  It is already looking increasingly unlikely that the Dems will take the Senate.

As discussed in “Frying Pans and Fires” last week, the Dems need an overall gain of six seats.  The handicapping has (of course) shifted since last week – McGavrick is suddenly tanking against Cantwell in Washington, for example – but what stunned the Dems was Chafee’s win in the Rhode Island Republican primary.

They were betting on the liberal wimp’s losing to a no-dicking-around conservative, who would then go on to lose to the Democrat in a state populated by liberal wimps.  That would be one up, with five seats to go.

But the awesome efficiency of GOP professionals in generating voter turnout, resulting in Chafee’s victory, has given Dems a cold shower.  They have nothing to match it nationwide, and there’s no time left (53 days and counting down) to try.

It’s infuriatingly frustrating for conservatives to see the GOP go all out for the likes of Chaffey.  I had a Senate Committee Chairman tell me yesterday what a personal disaster it was for him to have Chaffey on his committee:  “Instead of 10-8, I have 9-9 in votes and nothing gets done.”  He would love to have Chaffey gone, he told me – but not at the cost of the Majority.

Far worse for the Dems than not gaining a seat (for there are others to pick up) is losing one.  For every loss, add one more seat to six for them to make their number.  Word, then, that Bob Menendez, appointed to the Senate by newly-elected Gov. Jon Corzine in New Jersey, is under federal investigation for corrupt financial dealings and may soon be indicted, is a Dem disaster.  Menendez is toast.

Couple that with the increasing likelihood that Michael Steele (Maryland’s first black Lt. Governor) will defeat Ben Cardin, who had to trash a black opponent to win the Dem primary, and the necessity of an eight-seat Dem pickup seems insuperable.

So the House is where the action – and the danger – is.  All the money bills come out of the House.  Impeachment proceedings can only be initiated by the House.  Further, with no filibuster rule, the House Majority can and always does treat the minority members like dirt.

The Democrats ruled the House for 64 years (with two irrelevant interruptions in 1946 and 1952) as their private kingdom and feel it is theirs by right.  The Senate has shifted over the years, but not the House until 1994.  The bitterness and agony the Dems feel over being powerless schmucks in the House is matched only by their veering radically to the hard hate-America left.

Should they gain control of the House Chamber, they will make every effort to render America defenseless against Moslem terrorists, defenseless against the flood of illegals, defenseless against the destruction of America’s families, culture, and educational system.

If you think all or much of this is happening already, in the words of Al Jolson, “Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

For the entire length of the Bush presidency, save for a brief respite after 9/11, the Democrats and their media allies have waged an unrelenting war of negativism against it.  The result is the mood of sourness among voters and their refusal to be cheered by the economy’s objectively good news.

When gas peaked above $3 a gallon this summer, it seemed clear their strategy had paid off.  No doubt about it, they were headed towards pay day on November 7.  Thus their hubris peaked as well.

As the ancient Greeks well knew, hubris is the most beguiling danger, the most powerful high of all.  It causes, as Joel Wade tells me, what psychologists call “confirmation bias,” seeing only what you want to see.  Once trickles of doubt begin to seep through cracks in one’s wall of hubris, mistakes ensue and panic is not far away.

Thus, “the over-weening pride that leadeth to a fall.”

Thus, House Majority Leader John Boehner made exactly the right move by going for the Dems’ jugular on Tuesday (Sept. 12), by publicly declaring that Democrats cared more about protecting the civil rights of terrorists than protecting Americans from terrorists.  Hit ‘em where it hurts, John.

House Majority Whip Ray Blount told me yesterday the Dems should expect to keep getting hit where it hurts.  Soon, he said, they will realize just how hard it will be to “get to 15” ( a net 15-seat gain for the majority), and when they do, it won’t be a pretty sight.

Incidentally, he also explained that the House GOP leadership is going to focus only on border protection regarding immigration reform:  “You’ve got to stop the water flooding into the basement before you can start pumping the water out or begin remodeling.”

The National Guard on the border has made a big difference, Blount told me.  Attempted illegal crossings are way down, and everyone caught (except for Salvadorans, a loophole soon to be closed) is being sent back to where they came from.  75 miles of actual border fence has been built, 42 more under construction, and “700 more miles if the Senate would let us.”

Not enough for a lot of conservatives, but a lot, lot more than what the Dems will do.

According to Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), nothing more focuses one’s mind than the prospect of hanging.  The House GOP minds seem quite focused now.  Conversely, however, nothing freaks one’s mind out more than believing you are to be the hangman, only to discover you are the one to be hung.

That’s the cost of hubris, and below $2 gas.

— Dr. Jack Wheeler is editor-in-chief of To The Point News and is widely credited as the architect of the Reagan Doctrine.