Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What Happened to the Hopeium?

In 1994, the Democrats lost 54 seats. We all knew it was Bill Clinton's fault because he was, you know, a hick.

In 2010, the Democrats have lost at least 58 seats and will probably end up losing 60+. This is record under performance, worse both in absolute numbers and in probability than 1994, when the Dems retained more seats than they were projected to hold.

A commenter, Martin Gale, on Kevin Drum's blog, offered this bit of wisdom:
A meta lesson:

If you're going to sit on your ass thinking you can finesse everything while your opponents are demonizing you, all but uncontested for *decades*, you are going to underperform a whole lot of electoral prediction models. If you're going to sit on your ass while your opponents call you a "socialist," and your gutless, ridiculously tepid reforms "socialism," while you congratulate yourself for your grandmasterly political chess skills, you're going to underperform a whole lot of electoral prediction models. When your Speaker of the House and Senate Majority leaders, sane, sober people, are turned into the very faces of evil and their negatives pushed sky high while you sit on your ass, you're going to underperform a whole lot of electoral prediction models.

To put it differently, if you're going to act like an impolite word for female genitalia, you shouldn't expect good outcomes, or even average outcomes. You should expect to get the shit kicked out of you. And you should want to avoid letting that happen -- want to avoid it so badly that you shouldn't let the things I outlined above happen. But the Democrats, and the left in general, let them happen. I can only conclude that this loss isn't really that big a deal to them -- unlike it is to, say, the millions of unemployed people the Dems are supposed to be fighting for.
Yeah, I have to concur. The Democratic leadership has consistently failed to either make a solid argument for the party or against the opposition.

The Krug: Pre-Mortem
Obviously, Democrats are going to do badly today, the only question being how badly. And we’ll be drenched in punditry, most of it about how Obama overreached, etc..

So, to say the obvious: it’s mainly the economy, stupid. That’s the message of innumerable studies by political scientists. Major Democratic losses were guaranteed by the failure to deliver a significant improvement in job markets. To have avoided these losses, Obama would have had to have a stronger economic program — above all, a bigger stimulus.

Could he have gotten one? If not, the White House was a poisoned chalice from the beginning. But the point is that he didn’t try.

To the extent that Democrats do worse even than the economy explains, one can point to a number of factors. Given that the stimulus was inadequate — which was obvious early on — Obama could have tried to warn Americans of a long hard road ahead, and placed blame on Republicans; instead, the WH kept pretending that things were going swimmingly, never once acknowledging that the original plan wasn’t sufficient (they still haven’t). Remember the Summer of Recovery?

Worse, since the fall of 2009 the White House has systematically adopted Republican positioning on the budget; remember how the State of the Union included a freeze in domestic spending?

Policy on other fronts seemed almost designed to cede populist sentiments to the right: not even a hint of tough positioning against Wall Street, totally limp policy toward China, and more.

On the organizational side, it’s still mind-boggling how the White House deliberately shut down the whole network of grass-roots organizing that helped put Obama there in the first place. All that idealism, all that energy — and they were told to go away and let Rahm Emanuel do his deals in peace.

So again: it was mainly the economy, with the effects of a bad economy reinforced by Obama’s consistent policy of undercutting both messages and movements that might have helped Democrats weather the economic storm.

Yes. It is Obama's fault. He is the leader of the party and he has squandered the best political opportunity the Democrats have had probably since LBJ. He is a complete, abject failure as a strategist, his administration is in the pocket of Wall Street, and he has managed to get his pathetic, milquetoast bit of Republican economics branded "Socialism".

I half expect him to switch parties to show how bi-partisan and cooperative he can be.


Update - a few people have contacted me about the female genitalia reference in Martin Gale's comment. Yes, it is offensive, even if he did not say "cunt" or "pussy" (I suspect he meant the latter) directly. He should either say cunt/pussy or use some other epithet, like coward, wimp, turn-coat, liar, betrayer, fucktard, sad sack of shit, pandering politician, disengaged arrogant bastard, unqualified poseur, or any host of far more accurate descriptions of the kind of incompetent executive The Precious has shown himself to be. If you want to insult, then do it, don't equivocate. Indeed, I'd say Obama has demonstrated he has none of the resilience of a cunt and doesn't offer anywhere near as much fun as a pussy, thus, comparing him to female genitalia, whether with a rude term or a clinical one, is giving that loser far too much praise.

And using terminology for female genitalia to indicate opprobrium is something a true liberal avoids doing.


Anonymous said...

The election of 1994 did not reverse the trend of the two previous elections.

In 1992 the Democrats lost seats in Congress.

In 2006 the Democrats gained 31 seats in the House.

In 2008 the Democrats gained 21 seats in the House.

Yesterday the Democrats lost at least 59 seats in the House.

Koshem Bos said...

There is little to add except put it in slightly different and cruder terms. I never thought that Obama is smart( Hillary beat him hands down in every debate), he is not a fighter, in high school I was a better negotiator than he is, he is arrogant with any justification, etc.

At the most critical times, he just disappeared (the whole summer during the health care debate). He supported the banks in a way that made everyone mad.

He doesn't have to switch parties, he already did. The Republicans could have a better partner in the WH.

A little night musing said...

Anglachel, late to the party wishing you a good return to blogging.

As far as this post, I can only say amen to all that. (And: what myiq2xu said)

In my own state of NY, there was an election whose importance will not be felt because, in the end, the good guy won: but it was a close thing. I refer to the race for comptroller. I hope to write on this soon, because it's such an example of how we as a society have gone astray.