Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Katie, the wrong-way weathervane

One excellent way to decide if you’re analyzing something correctly is to see if Katherine Kersten agrees with you. If she does, the chances are excellent that you’ve got it backwards. F’instance, take her little gloat on Sunday about the outcome of the election last week. According to Katie, the election was a massive repudiation of all things liberal. Here’s the lede:

Last week's historic election repudiated the grandiose, left-wing governance schemes of President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress. Conservatives are still toasting the victory. But the election, and the two years leading up to it, hold lessons that go well beyond this election cycle. America, it turns out, is a far more resilient nation than we had feared.

It won’t surprise readers here when I say that I think Kersten is wide of the mark. First of all, the election of Barack Obama as president two years ago? Now that was historic. Picking the first DFL governor (because we did) since 1986? Well, that was historic, too. Republicans did make material gains in the states and the federal government, but I don’t think they were historic, really. But we’ll let Katie gloat. It isn’t my point, anyway.

If you are interested in coming closer to what the election was really “about,” I suggest that you take your advice from Rob Levine and Wy Spano, too.

Here’s Rob, in a post entitled Bonfire of the liberals, one of the more popular post here ever:

The Obama administration created its own doom, making deals with corporations that sold out the American people in a misguided attempt to nibble around the edges of the gaping holes in our society. Obama's approach to governing was a double loser: politically, his attempts at conciliation with opponents did not soften them up, but gained their further enmity and dissembling about the true nature of his governance, labeling him a socialist, communist, and worse. Meanwhile, the compromises he made, and the steps he took, strengthened the corporations that dominate our lives while providing no meaningful relief for hurting Americans. It's no wonder that marginalized demographic groups that helped elect him, such as women, gays, the elderly, the young, and racial minorities showed up in smaller numbers in 2010 than in 2008.

By ABC’s estimate, about 29,000,000 fewer of them.

If you listen to Katie, you’ll think that Obama ought to jog toward the center, which he’ll probably do. Rob, on the other hand — without putting too many words in his mouth — may say that Obama spent too much time trying to make deals with intransigent Republicans when he should have paid more attention to the people who elected him. He’d probably add that Katie’s advice is lethal to the administration’s future.

And now there is this from Wy Spano, writing at MinnPost:

Our cerebral president seems to have missed a singular point of modern campaigns — they are profoundly Manichean (an ancient religion which held that good and evil were always at war, and people were always choosing between them.) It was Obama's job, starting around Jan. 1, 2010, to begin to cast the Republicans in the role of evil, to give Democrats something to run against as they prepared for the 2010 election. But Obama kept chanting the "working together" mantra. That left Republicans free to define evil for the public, so they defined all government, and particularly Obama, as evil. Usually, Democrats blame business/fat cats/Wall Street as evil. In a poor economy, someone's got to be blamed. But Obama wouldn't take on business, so the bad economy ended up being his — and government's — fault.

If Obama had been elected in 1932, he probably would have spent his first two years in office telling everyone to be nicer to Andrew Mellon.

It is a fool’s errand to think you can work with people whose principal goal in life is to gut you like a trout.


Phoenix Woman said...

If he had used reconciliation to pass the $2T stimulus package all the economists were telling him was needed, just as he wound up using reconciliation to pass the HCR bill, the Democrats would have gained seats.  Simple as that.

TonyAngelo said...

There was almost no set of circumstances that could have unfolded in which the Dems would have gained seats. The best they could have hoped for was small loses.

Alec Timmerman said...

I agree with Tony. PW is correct that the stim was way too small, and a bigger stim would have been a bonanza to the economy and the middle class. The economy could have gang busters, but folks would still be convinced our taxes are way too high (lowest in 50 years), the stim created no jobs (more private sector jobs created than Bush's entire 8 years). and Obama doubled the debt (he actually decreased debt spending).