A Democratic win may not be a win

Doing the math always depresses me, and when I did the math on the 2008 presidential elections, I had to go home and go to bed.

I really, really want the Republicans out of power. Whoever is elected, though, figures to be royally hosed from Day One. Circumstances, augmented by a huge dose of Bush administration incompetence, have tied the nation into a knot nobody’s going to unravel in four short years.

The Bushies have managed to avoid acknowledging the collapse. They’re in full-throttle denial now, lavishly praising the troop surge ("violence has declined to 2004 levels") while quietly admitting to a “slowdown” in the economy. Still, the dominos are a-tumble at home and abroad.

You can trust me on this: I got a B-minus in Econ 101.

Even with that background, though, I don’t know what to hope for in November. I’m half convinced I should wish for a Republican victory. John McCain was one of the people who sewed this bag we’re in; let him hold it for awhile.

The idea has some appeal. McCain is a self-styled maverick, and many conservatives don’t like him. Ordinarily, that would be recommendation enough.

Then reality sets in. On most issues I care about, he’s indistinguishable from Bush: pro-war (not just “strong on defense;” he actually seems to favor war as an expedient solution, an idea that’s lost some luster lately). He’s invisible on the environment, opposed to abortion, and after I praised his stand on campaign reform recently, readers reminded me that he developed that conscience only after narrowly escaping censure in the Keating Five scandal. Add to that the horrifying possibility that he could appoint two Supreme Court justices and the recent allegations that he’s been in bed, so to speak, with lobbyists, and I’d find it hard to push the McCain button.

Understand, by the way, that I don’t care about the “bed” part of those charges, only about the alleged intimacy with lobbyists.

If McCain doesn’t win, though, could it mean the end of the Democratic party?

I’m not kidding: The next president, the next administration, is screwed. Using their power to cloud men’s minds, the Bushies managed to increase spending by a trillion dollars in six years while cutting taxes—and yet, surprise, somehow fell short of breaking even. The national debt is going up faster than I can type, but at this moment it’s approaching $9.5 trillion. Your share is close to $31,000. If you have a spouse and children, each of them owes 31 large, too.

It’s easy to blame the Iraq war for this, and I frequently do, but there’s a nagging problem: We’re only spending something like $9 billion a month there. That’s not pocket change, but it is to $9.5 trillion as $1 is to about $1,050.

Coming from the same pocket, ultimately, are Social Security (not in desperate trouble, no matter what the administration says), Medicare (in desperate trouble, no matter what the administration says) and all the entitlements and perks and allegedly-necessary-for-national-security items the party of small government has brought under government control in the last six years.

If nothing goes wrong—no Hurricane Katrina, no San Francisco earthquake, no bird flu mutation infecting 25 million Americans, no war with Turkey or Iran, no aggressive moves by China, no sudden decision in the Arab states that it’s their oil, and they can charge whatever they want for it—if everything goes exactly right, the new president is screwed. I’ll still vote for the Democrat, but if I lose, I’ll wake up smiling every morning thinking of McCain hoist on his homemade petard.