The Day After….
January 20, 2010
This is not the special election post-mortem I wanted to write. Not even close.
I’m not going to bother trying to offer analysis of who’s to blame for the loss — as Nate Silver points out in one of his posts today at 538, there’s plenty of blame to go around. But I do have a couple of things to say.
To my friends on the right: Enjoy your victory. You earned it and it may be the harbinger of more victories in November. Midterm elections always suck for the party in power and this year won’t be any different. But don’t be too sure that last night’s results spell the end of the Obama Administration. Democrats still have 59 Senate seats and over 250 seats in the House, and ten months is a lifetime in politics. Three years is an eternity. Bill Clinton lost both houses of Congress in 1994, won reelection two years later in a landslide, and left office with approval ratings that were literally twice as high as George W. Bush’s at the end of his disastrous Presidency.
To my friends on the left: See above. It’s way, way too early to panic. Symbolically speaking, this is a big loss. And yes, it costs us our 60 vote “super majority” although with DINOs like Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh and Mary Landrieux and Holy Joe Lieberman, I’m not sure how “super” it ever was. But remember this: If someone had told us the day before the 2008 election that Obama would win AND we’d have 59 Democrats in the Senate, we would have been ecstatic. If we can’t govern with the majorities we still have, we don’t deserve to be in power.
To Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi: For the love of God, get your shit together. We have huge majorities in both houses — bigger than the Republicans ever had under George W. Bush, and we still can’t get anything done. That is your fault. Learn how to govern, for God’s sake. If the Republicans threaten to fiflbuster LET THEM FILIBUSTER!! Let them go on TV and talk about pie recipes for 47 hours. They’ll look like obstructionist idiots, which, as it happens, is what they often are. Stop caving at the first threat of opposition! Fight as if your jobs depended on it! Because they probably do . . .
To President Obama: I voted for you. I would gladly vote for you again. But you have to get over your bipartisanship fetish. The Republicans are not interested in bipartisanship. They never have been. They want to destroy you, even if that means destroying the country at the same time. They will oppose anything and everything that you propose. You could endorse their party platform and they would find a reason to block it. They hate you and everything you stand for. It’s great that you tried. Really. I think you had to, at least for the first couple of months. But how many times do they have to punch you in the mouth before you’ll stand up and hit them back? Enough! Stop trying to work with them. It’s time to start beating them over the head with a two-by-four. We elected you to change the tone in Washington if you could, but more than that, we elected you to fight for us, to pass meaningful health care, to save the planet, to kick Wall Street’s ass. As it turns out, you can’t change the tone in D.C. You need help to do that, and the GOP isn’t going to help. So get the rest of it done. You’ll have the support of a large majority of the public, you’ll have your base behind you, and you might even manage to save a few of those Congressional seats you’re on course to lose.
To the American public: Please, just for a moment, think back to January 20, 2009. Try to remember how bad things were when Barack Obama took office. Yes, unemployment was lower. Any economist will tell you that unemployment is a lagging indicator, so it gets bad after everything else goes to hell and it recovers after everything else starts to improve. But think about the rest of it: The contempt with which other nations looked at us, the fear that our economy was about to tumble into an abyss of historic depth, the feeling that our foreign policy had been out of control for years. Has Barack Obama fixed everything? Of course not. He faced problems the like of which no President since FDR had seen in his first year in office. But we are better off now than we were a year ago, and I have no doubt that our economy and our national pride will continue to improve under his leadership. George Bush had eight years to screw things up; let’s say we give Obama a bit more time to clean up his mess.