The fallout from the midterm election is still being analyzed by the blogosphere and the mainstream media. Some of the best analysis can once again be found at Anglachel’s Journal. Her latest, The Failure of Team Obama , gets almost to the heart of the matter:
Political choices have political outcomes. Failure to act in the long-term interest of the party – which is just another way of saying failure to enact policies and engineer outcomes that will build mass support for continued electoral success – and subsuming party interests to that of elite factions within a party (and even more those elite groups spanning parties) will erode institutional strength:
This simple fact – that Obama chose the team he wanted, with full knowledge of who they were and where their loyalties lay – undermines the Obamacan apologists like WKJM who whine on about how we have to give The Precious more time and we aren’t being fair and times are tough and any way Clinton lost big at the midterms too and blah blah fucking blah.
This is also why the growing meme of “This is Bill Clinton’s old financial team, so really it’s all his fault because he started it, and Obama inherited his problems from Clinton, and it’s all due to the evil Clinton cabal!” can’t hold water. If the economic choices of the Clinton administration were wrong, then Obama should have had the wisdom to chose different advisers. There was time enough to see the long-term effects of those past political choices, with special emphasis on how the loopholes of the legislation (loopholes demanded by both Republicans and Democrats, each in turn guided by that cross-party interest group, Wall Street) were exploited under an out-of-control Republican regime.
The biggest problem here is not that Obama pulled the wool over anyone’s eyes. He was this way all along and has performed exactly as he said he would – center-right, non-confrontational, go with the status quo, listen to all the Very Serious People, and earnestly pursue bi-partisan capitulation.
The failure lies with those who believed his bullshit in the first place.
There’s more where that came from. Go read the whole thing.
Add to that two small posts at Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix. The first was about how the Democrats lost significant support in the states where Hillary Clinton had won the 2008 primaries by landslides. In Dems Lose Clinton Country, Crawford writes:
Forty of 63 House turnovers to GOP were in states Obama lost to Hillary in 2008 primaries. Just something for the President’s camp to think about as they ponder a more daunting reelection map than they had faced before Tuesday.
Had Hillary been available to campaign – her position as secretary of state doesn’t allow it – could she have made a difference? Bill Clinton was more than available, barnstorming everywhere she might have helped, but Democrats still lost much ground in HRC 2008 states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana (12 House turnovers).
Although Obama won those states in the general election, Tuesday’s drubbing suggests he’ll be spending a lot of time there over the next two years.
The other post, Was 2008 an Outlier?, comes closer than a gnat’s wing to the truth but doesn’t quite connect:
How can elections two years apart look so different? But Tuesday’s vote seems to be the norm. Its center-right results fit into the main stream of the last 30 years far more than 2008′s assumed lunge to the left.
Even the Democratic congressional sweep of 2006 was actually more in keeping with tradition. Democrats won Congress largely by recruiting centrist candidates – which created a time bomb that exploded in their faces this week, as voters in those right-leaning districts and states switched back to the Republican column.
This has me wondering if Barack Obama’s election was merely an exception made possible by the alluring uniqueness of his personal history and appeal. If so, the biggest mistake Democrats made was in assuming that their recent successes were transformational, instead of merely temporary.
Let’s clear this up right now. I don’t think that the Democratic party in 2008 really believed that Obama’s candidacy was transformational. Obama was a franchise, complete with two autobiographies of a man who didn’t have a history, and a slick brand marketing campaign. The Democrats sold the Transformation brand to win but forgot to include the crucial ingredient- actual transformation. And the voters called them on it.
I don’t think there was any doubt that voters wanted something significantly different than Republican Movement Conservatism in 2008. Voters didn’t switch back to the Republicans in 2010 so much as Democratic voters failed to show up. This election is not about voter rejection of transformation. It’s anger that came when they bought the only cereal on the shelf only to find there wasn’t any prize in the damn box. Republicans were not rewarded. Democrats were punished.
As for who believed the hype, it sure wasn’t the people in Hillary country, which included all of the biggest, most Democratic states in the nation. Blowing those voters off was the biggest mistake Democrats ever made. Depriving them of the right of self determination was going to come back to bite the party in the end and in fact, voters in Massachusetts and New Jersey almost immediately got back at the party. Democrats who failed to show up in both states derailed the careers of Martha Coakley and Jon Corzine. But the Democratic party didn’t take these defeats seriously.
What I found most surprising about the last election cycle is that Democrats didn’t even appear to be trying. They trotted out fearmongering of Republicans, mirroring Republicans stock in trade when applied to scary muslims. It was propaganda to tweak the irrational in us. Combine that with the praise of legislation that in no way met the needs of the people it was purported to serve, like Health Care Reform and the Lilly Ledbetter act. Democrats seem to have severely underestimate the intelligence of the average voter.
Note to Democrats: They’re not as dumb as you think they are. Oh, sure, there are plenty that can be mislead, millions that can be confused. But deep down, they know the score. They’re just trying to keep their heads above water. What they wanted was a life preserver and you failed to throw them one. If you’re preaching change but not really changing things, they’ll gravitate towards the people who at least promise to keep their taxes low. But I’m guessing that the real reason they punished you is because they sensed that their lives were just not very important to you. So your jobs became less important to them.
The voters in Clinton country never did believe the Obamawama bullshit to begin with. The true believers were the “Creative Class” contingent. Any party that is being lead around by a bunch of delusional political virgins probably deserves to lose.
The GOP Plans to Use Purse Strings to Fight Health Law . How are they going to do that?:
Republican lawmakers said, for example, that they would propose limiting the money and personnel available to theInternal Revenue Service, so the agency could not aggressively enforce provisions that require people to obtainhealth insurance and employers to help pay for it. Under the law, individuals and employers who flout the requirements will face tax penalties.
Moreover, Republican leaders said, they plan to use spending bills to block federal insurance regulations to which they object. And they will try to limit access to government-subsidized private health plans that include coverage ofabortion — one of the most contentious issues in Congressional debate over the legislation.
Yeah, that’s the way to do it. Why can’t Democrats play like this? This wouldn’t happen if Democrats had given us Medicare for All or a nice Public Option. Gits.
Frank Rich wonders why Obama is flying off to India right after the bruising his party got during the election. I should think it’s obvious, Frank. Obama is going to put everything on the table and, in a bipartisan fashion, politely ask India to give us our jobs back. Who the hell cares why he’s going? He’s not doing us any good in Washington. Rich also muses about what voters really want with regards to spending cuts and entitlements:
Pressed about Social Security and Medicare, Blackburn would only promise to have an “adult conversation” with Americans on the subject. That’s the new Republicanese for punting. The G.O.P. budget guru, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, also called for a “conversation” in a specifics-deficient op-ed manifesto in The Financial Times last week. Boehner and Mitch McConnell, in their postelection press conference, declared no fewer than 11 times that they were eager to “listen” to the American people. At the very least they are listening to a message guru like Frank Luntz.
Were they to listen to Americans, they’d learn that they favor budget cuts mainly in theory, not in fact. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this summer found that three-quarters of Americans don’t want to cut federal aid to education — high on the hit list of most fiscal hawks — and more than 60 percent are opposed to raising the Social Security retirement age to 70. Even in the Republican-tilted electorate of last week, exit polls found that only 39 percent favored extending the Bush tax cuts to all Americans, including those making $250,000-plus. Yet it’s a full Bush tax cut extension that’s the entirety of the G.O.P. jobs program in 2010. This will end “uncertainty” among the wealthiest taxpayers, you see, and a gazillion jobs will trickle down magically from Jackson Hole.
I got yer adult conversation right here: If Democrats use Republicans as cover for cutting social security, they will be telling folks like me that it was OK to lie to us for three decades about why we were paying in to the social security surplus fund. It will have amounted to a huge tax increase during our prime earning years that was used to cover the tax breaks for the wealthy and wars that many of us didn’t want. I’d call that fraud.
Do we look stupid to you?? You want an adult conversation? Let this voter start it. Accountability before Austerity. That’s the message I am delivering to every Congresscritter in Washington. Before you ask for single penny in sacrifices from us working class wage slaves, get the money from the bankers, tell the financials to take a hair cut, end the costly wars, raise the taxes of anyone making $250K and make investors cough up their share of capital gains taxes and other percs. Or how about we replicate the recently passed NJ law that says that you can’t use payroll assessments for any other purpose than the ones for which they were collected? (See, Dems? I’ve given you several very good political ideas that will make you popular with the voters who just handed you your asses. Use them, damn it.)
No, No, No. Do not think you can talk to us like children about talking to us as adults. You seriously underestimate us when it comes to social security, which is not an entitlement. It’s retirement insurance for the working class and during this Mother of All Recessions when so many of us have seen our 401Ks take a hit, now is not a good time to talk about cutting it or making it unreachable. Forget it.
Accountability before Austerity.
On a more literary note:
I’m listening to Keith Richards’ autobiography, “Life”. It’s not as profoundly philosophical as you might think from the pithy title, but then this is Keef. (Did we really need to know that Mick Jagger has a small penis?) Keith comes off as a bad boy with a good heart and a fascination with putting just about everything but Comet cleanser in his body. But 2/3′s of the way through the book, Keith is making me ask some uncomfortable questions. Such as, why is he in so many damn car accidents, including one with his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, when she was 7 months pregnant? Ok, the one in Morroco sounds like a close call that was not necessarily his fault, but the others? Why does he worship Pallenberg but keep a stable of ready girlfriends on the side in case she doesn’t come home one night? How could he let his amazing talent get buried by enough heroin to kill an elephant?
Journalist Bill Wyman, channeling Mick Jagger’s likely critique of the book in Slate puts it this way:
So I will take that point. All of the forgoing was just … a little outré behavior on tour. Let’s go to the next tier—again, of matters one is informed of with some regularity, this not over months, not years, but entire decades. Keith’s been arrested with a mason jar full of heroin and a shopping bag full of other drugs and drug paraphernalia and is charged with drug trafficking. That was his baggage for a weekend in Toronto. It is hard to play a show with a catatonic guitarist, harder still when he is in jail for 10 years. I won’t even get into the fact that this came right when I had every record label in the world fighting to sign us, and in an instant my negotiating power was vaporized. Here’s a baroque bulletin from the archives: Anita’s 17-year-old boyfriend has accidentally shot himself, in Keith’s house—Keith’sbedroom—with a gun Keith left lying around. Young Marlon, then perhaps 10, saw Anita, covered in blood, coming down the stairs distraught, and God knows it could have been Marlon playing with the gun. Or: Keith’s driven his car off the road (again) with Marlon inside (again). In his book Keith stands back, amazed at the things that just … happen to him. He is frequently the victim of faulty wiring in the hotels in which we bivouac; a surprising number of times this phenomenon has caused fires. Ritz-Carltons are not built the way they use to be, I guess. Redlands burned down a couple of times as well, as did a house he was renting in Laurel Canyon. It’s a wonder Marlon survived his childhood. A third child Keith disposed of by sending her off to his mum back in Dartford I to raise. The second? That was another son, who was left with his paranoid, unstable, heroin-addict mother and didn’t make it past infancy. Keith says he blames himself, and on that at least I think we can agree.
There’s enough class resentment and insecurity in this book to justify years in therapy. I’m particularly interested in his own reflections on his flow state when he started writing music. The music he churned out in the 60s was a result of his brain in perfect sync with his guitar. But, jeesus, most of us don’t need to test the body’s capacity for recovery the way he has. It’s almost like he’s an overachiever for a Darwin Award. The title of the book refers less to his personal history than his own incredulity at his ability to survive as long as he has.
Fascinating read. Four sponges. (Sometimes he goes off on a tangent about the harmonic effects of a five string riff and I sort of lose the plot. Well, so has he, probably.)
What are you reading today?