By 11 last night at the GOP "victory" party at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, it was all over but the shouting -- and there hadn't even been any shouting. The networks having called the show for Obama, all that remained were a few stragglers packing up bunting and party favors, an inflatable elephant crumpled on the floor beside them.
County GOP Chair Sid Dinerstein -- nicely shaved and groomed, in a finely tailored suit -- was agitated, gloomy, and in a mood to talk. He sees a nation on the path to doom.
"Something has happened in the country," Sid said. "It's not our country -- citizens are now consumers. It's a big shopping mall, a paradigm change. The game is: 'How do they get our money?'"
Sid, in other words, remains firmly wedded to the picture of America drawn by
whatever happened to Mitt Romney in his notorious Boca Raton fundraiser of last March, an America in which a lazy, shiftless half of the population believes it is entitled to a lifetime of goodies from the government, paid for with taxes extracted from the virtuous, hard-working half.
In prophetic mode -- and in an echo of Glenn Beck -- Sid called last night's election the dead end of "a 95-year path" that began with the Wilson administration and the creation of the progressive income tax and the Federal Reserve. "Tonight was America's last chance to embrace exceptionalism," he said. "America had a choice, and we voted to be poor."
With a majority of the population fallen under the spell of entitlement, how does Sid hope to win them back to the GOP? "I can't tell you that at this point," he said. "I know this much: We never succeed by pandering."
If Sid was at a loss, a counterpart in the Palm Beach Democratic Party had a few words of advice. Down the road just a few hundred yards, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, where the Democrats had gathered to celebrate, former party Chair Mark Alan Siegel had this to say about Sid's vision of terminal decline: "If that's what they believe, they're never going to win another election again. Because they don't believe in America."
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes fatal bite -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.