Here's what The Monk did last night after the initial returns came in: took a wander to get away for a bit, returned home to watch returns, clicked refresh on CNN.com 43,289 times.
First, some quick media thoughts:
(1) CNN.com had the best coverage bar none on raw data and up-to-the-minute vote counts including county-by-county trends and updates for each state. I clicked over to others before settling on CNN: FoxNews.com - a bit slow and reloads on the races were not good; C-Span - a great looking map and good interactivity, but one update behind CNN; CBS - useless because it had no info on county trends; ABC - fairly quick with updates and often as quick or quicker than CNN, but no good county trends and its format was poor; MSNBC -- about three states behind early on so I just ditched it, plus the color scheme and the overall look sucked.
(2) I watched FoxNews for updates, not only because I'm a right-winger but also because other panels were useless. WTF was Larry King doing on the CNN telecast? Doesn't he have another wedding to hold? I didn't bother with any of the major networks because I figured that Fox would give the straight information -- Juan Williams, a liberal who tends to be honest while combative, would keep Barnes in line and vice versa. Plus Fox had Michael Barone -- probably the most authoritative and knowledgeable election tracker in the country. Will Collier's review of the various coverages makes my choice seem to be the best of the bunch.
Next, some election thoughts:
(1) I'm more relieved than happy that Bush won. As I've stated time and again, having Jimmy Carter II as president during a period of wartime and international instability is unimaginably disastrous. I am disappointed that Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Jersey went for Kerry. Given the margins, the rampant fraud and intimidation in Pennsylvania seems to not have affected the outcome of the vote. Conversely, in Wisconsin, the fraud and intimidation by Democrats DOES seem to have affected the outcome (see here for a link to fraud reports in Wisconsin). Nonetheless, it is good to see that Bush won a majority, thereby becoming the first majority president since his father in 1988.
(2) HAHAHAHAHA [insert happy dance here] -- for Tom Daschle's loss. Two years ago Daschle helped fellow Democrat Tim Johnson cheat and win the 2002 Senate race against John Thune, this year Thune wins outright and fairly. This is a MAJOR scalp. Forget idiotic statements that Daschle was a moderate. He was the architect of Democrat obstructionism from 2000-04, the most fiercely partisan Senate minority leader since WWI and major proponent of the Democrats' unconstitutional scheme to filibuster judicial appointments. Also, Daschle was the primary lieutenant for George Mitchell when Mitchell beat down Pres. George H. W. Bush in the '91 budget crisis (read my lips --> down the tubes). Beating him sends a message to Democrats and is a large win for Republicans.
(3) Republicans made huge strides to narrow the gap in New Jersey. That state is the most corrupt one-party state since Civil Rights Era Mississippi. I expect Republicans to make some gains in New Jersey in the next few years, maybe enough to put it over the top for the 2008 Republican presidential candidate.
(4) The Senate is squarely in Republican hands, now they need to do something with it. Despite losing Illinois and Colorado, the Repubs won huge gains with both Carolinas, Georgia, South Dakota, and probably Florida switching sides. The biggest win, however, is David Vitter's in Louisiana -- the first post-Reconstruction Republican to win a Senate seat from the Bayou state.
One nice way to consolidate Republican power in the Senate: give Chuck Grassley BIG incentives to take the Judiciary chairmanship and shaft Arlen Specter. Grassley's in line but wants to remain Finance chairman. The Republicans MUST enforce some loyalty to the President (whom Specter neglected in Pennsylvania after Bush spent BIG political capital to help Snarlin' Arlen in his primary campaign earlier this year) and Specter will fark the President at every turn. The judiciary is too important for the White House to have to play nice with its own party whilst getting thwarted constantly by the Carl Levins, Ted Kennedys and Chuck Schumers of the world.
(5) My first two Supreme Court selections in 2005 (when Rehnquist and either O'Connor or Stevens step down): Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen. Stick it to the Dems for their filibusters for those circuit-court appointments for those two. Time to play hardball.