Republican Elizabeth Dole was ousted from the Senate last
night by an eight-point margin. After months of a tough and often negative
campaign, her opponent, Kay
Hagan, became the first Democrat since 1973 to claim the seat long-held in
Jesse Helms's iron grip.
And yet, Dole couldn't go quietly. In her concession
speech, she used religion to take a dig at Hagan just one more time. Describing
a recent visit to Taylorsville, N.C., where she saw several war memorials, Dole
subtly invoked her infamous "godless" ad, for which Hagan filed a defamation suit just last week on grounds that
Dole wrongfully implied the Democrat didn't believe in a higher being:
"Yet with all that history of sacrifice from the small hill
town, you can bet that love of our state and love of our country have never
been stronger. We began at the Taylorsville
event with bowed heads and a prayer to our maker, and we did not begin our
speechmaking until we faced the flag, placed our hands on our hearts, and
recited the pledge of allegiance. And yes, we pledged all to an America united
as one nation under God."
Dole emphasized the final two words, which were met with
sustained applause from the crowd. She then defended her ads, insisting she had
been forced to fight "as hard as I could" by "people from faraway
places"--presumably, MoveOn.org and the DSCC, which spent millions to criticize
Dole's record and ties to President Bush.
Dole also reminded the crowd flatly that "historic winds
have swept across the political landscape, unsettling allegiances and toppling
traditions." And indeed, this election did; it revealed the power of the
South's changing demographics--its burgeoning metropolitan areas comprised of
people from other states, and other countries, who increasingly trend
center-left. Conservatives no longer wield the uncompromised power they enjoyed
for so long.
On the night that North Carolina, which went for Bush by a
12-point margin in 2004, delivered millions upon millions of votes to a Democratic presidential nominee, leaving the state's winner up in
the air, it seemed as though Dole was waving farewell not just to a job but
also to a disappearing South she once knew.