Steamboat Springs Was it hearing of Dennis Kucinich's encounter with spacemen? Or was it seeing the ex-Governor Moonbeam, Jerry Brown, doing TV commentary? Something sent me on an out-of-body experience the other night, a sci-fi trip into the future - and it was scary.
I was driving home after hosting my Sunday radio show, haunted by political writer Mike Littwin's prediction about John McCain's detractors: "The Limbaugh Republicans will eventually vote for him, but the Dobson Republicans, who knows? They may not." Suddenly my car was a tiny dot far below, and then it was caucus night 2012.
Nine of us lonely Republicans huddled in a school library that had held hundreds for previous caucuses. Out in the corridor were five caucus-goers of the feisty little Tory Party that had formed around Ann Coulter and James Dobson after McCain wrested the 2008 nomination from Romney and Huckabee. Three hundred Democrats packed the gym.
Caucus business quickly done, we brooded about the dramatic events of President Barack Obama's first term. Despite campaign gaffes, foot-dragging by the Clintonistas, and his maturity deficit against the GOP's war-hero nominee, Obama won the popular vote and narrowly took the Electoral College against Sen. McCain.
Fittingly, it was Colorado's nine electoral votes that made the difference. "That'll show'em," a Tory leader in Colorado Springs told Fox after McCain's midnight concession speech. The President-elect rewarded state Democrats by naming Federico Pena as treasury secretary and Ken Salazar as interior secretary. Gov. Ritter elevated Diana DeGette to the resulting Senate vacancy.
Helped by the Republican fracture, Dems had taken 58 Senate seats; after Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins switched parties, Harry Reid could now break any filibuster. DeGette's embryonic stem-cell bill sailed through and was signed in Obama's first hundred days. He inked the repeal of Bush's partial-birth abortion ban the same day.
Tory radio hosts, already demoralized, grew more so after September 11, 2009, when al-Qaida took down a dozen airliners over the U.S., Britain, and Canada in a single hour. Aboard one of them, tragically, was Chief Justice John Roberts. Obama appointed arch-liberal Laurence Tribe to replace him, and picked Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison to chair a commission on why they hate us.
McCain, now as lonely a voice in the Senate as Churchill had been in Parliament before 1939, pointed out that the Patriot Act and FISA surveillance could probably have averted the second Sept. 11. But few listened, especially after the Super Fairness Doctrine was signed, muzzling conservative voices on cable and the Internet as well as talk radio.
Did I mention it was depressing, that GOP caucus I magically attended in 2012? It was the pits. Speaker Charles Rangel had passed a black reparations bill in 2009. The Tribe court had ordered gay marriage in 2010. Israel had fallen in 2011. Why didn't thinking Republicans work harder to prevent the 2008 schism, we sat there asking each other.
The upside, we told ourselves, was Barack's vulnerability for re-election. Chances seemed good, considering the recession triggered by Rangel's huge tax increase, along with global tension about an al-Qaida-dominated Iraq, an Iran with nukes, and a China that had seized Taiwan while the U.S. stood by.
Predictably, Obama-Care was way more than budget and already unpopular. Thankfully, his Supreme Court nomination of Bill Clinton, a payoff to Hillary for the DNC deal on super-delegates, had failed. Republican hopes were reviving, but what a price to pay for getting America's conservative party unified and competitive again.
Then, snap! I was back at the wheel, and it was still 2008. Heaven protects day-dreaming pundits. Headlights showed my garage door going up. My party might still avert self-destruction.
John Andrews of Centennial was president of the Colorado Senate in 2003-2005. He is now a Claremont Institute fellow, a member of the Conservative Leadership Counsel of Northwest Colorado, and host of Backbone Radio, Sundays at 5pm online at 710knus.com. You can email John at email@example.com