The New Yorker On the Election


Since I subscribe to magazines and media of all type I can’t help but read through the various apologies and alternate universes proposed as the Democrats attempt to parse the election results. While I try not to dwell too much on them since it is a waste of time it is worth reviewing this New Yorker article in their November 15, 2010 magazine titled “Electoral Dissonance” because it seems generally representative.

The article started out with the usual first excuse / spin which is to blame the “Tea Party” for not making it an even bigger loss for the Democrats.

The Democrats retained their Senate majority, now much reduced, only by the grace of the Tea Party, which, in Colorado, Delaware, and Nevada, saddled Republicans with nominees so weighted with extremism and general bizarreness that they sank beneath the wave so many others rode.

Really? Under the Democrats’ view of the world a wave of un-reason brought on this debacle, with the electorate not “understanding” what happened, and only the actions of the Tea Party prevented an even bigger loss. This of course stands reality on its head; until the Tea Party rejuvenated the Republican party, they were flat out left for dead. Yes, the Tea Party had some loony candidates like in Delaware, but in general any reasonable observer would say that the Tea Party DROVE this “wave” that swamped the Democrats in the first place.

This year, more Democratic candidates seemed to apologize for the health-care law – notwithstanding its imperfections, their party’s greatest accomplishment in generations, the fulfillment of a century-long dream – than to proclaim it.

Ah… now we are getting somewhere. Anyone remember Obama’s election, along with the rest of the Democratic team in 2008? Was their talk of re-doing health-care into a gigantic government bureaucracy? No, there wasn’t. But what there WAS discussion of was how the Democrats were going to work in a bi-partisan manner, as opposed to those evil Republicans.

Instead – the Democrats rammed through health care legislation with nary a single Republican vote, using every lever of parliamentary procedure to get it done and making horrendous compromises to any of their members who held their hand out. Perhaps the author of this article could have thought about that for one minute, the big “head fake” of the campaign, the false post-partisan bs on a topic that wasn’t even a priority for the electorate, and then think about why the Democrats were turfed out of 60 house seats and barely clung on to their Senate lead.

There will be no more transformational legislation; it will be all Obama can do simply to protect health-care reform from sabotage. The economy, like the climate, will be left to fend for itself. And the world will watch, wonder, and worry.

The sad denouement; I can almost hear Triumph the Insult Comic Dog saying “it is all about de keeds” and some violins playing, but the reality is much different. The world today isn’t viewing Obama as a leader or savior of anything; Britain turfed out Labor and is planning to BALANCE the budget, removing 500,000 government workers. Germany abhors our financial laxity; and China and Asia (see South Korea) aren’t buying it. Unless you only read Paul Krugman for every bit of information you receive just watch the slow moving and unsuccessful Obama tour around the world to see the repudiation of his form of “big government”, which 1) spends a lot of money 2) doesn’t invest it in hard assets or knowledge producing assets, just shovels it around to favored unions, interest groups, and the non-working.

One more thing – ever wonder why your base didn’t come out with bells on? Remember those wars that George Bush supposedly started in haste, before every bit of diplomacy had failed? Remember all the protests? Well the kids don’t protest Obama (bad tactics, I guess) but I can’t imagine that they felt good about the surge and our ratcheting up of involvement in Afghanistan and continued involvement in Iraq. Wasn’t Obama going to change all that? Oh yeah, just talk. And kid – vote for me, too. Fell on flat ears. Funny that in this document rationalizing the Democratic losses this writer didn’t say that while Obama used his “head fake” to accomplish what he didn’t set out to do in a bitterly partisan manner he did nothing to try to accomplish what he did say he’d do, which is pull down our level of forces in these overseas wars.

17 thoughts on “The New Yorker On the Election”

  1. As weird-ish as the Republic candidate in Delaware was, her opponent was a self-proclaimed communist. That did not seem to be a problem for the media or for the Dems.

  2. I still suspect that O’Donnell in Delaware performed a service by drawing all the focus of attacks on herself. Maybe she took some heat off people like Ron Johnson in Wisconsin

  3. John – Ron Johnson ran a very nice campaign against a long time and loved senator up here. There wasn’t really a lot of dirt on Johnson, he seems squeaky clean. That doens’t mean that he will be a good senator, but anything to me is better then Feingold.

  4. The furor over O’Donnell always puzzled me because that is the state that elected plagiarist Biden for 26 years. In his 1988 presidential campaign, he even went so far as to falsify his own personal history to use Neil Kinnock’s story of his miner father in his campaign.

    With that precedent, you would have to go beyond teenaged witch dabblings to shock anyone. The press needed no such judgement to make the most of her gaffes. Delaware has such a low standard that it is difficult to find it without help.

  5. Was there something beyond O’Donnell’s youthful flirtation with witchcraft in Delaware which leads Carl to describe her as “Loony”?

    If not, I think some huge swath of U.S. population could be described as loony. Former high-school Goths, dungeon and dragons players, computer gamers, and other obsessive young behaviors and thinking (not to mention the liberal bent of young and inexperienced minds) are quite similar and approach, although they are not exactly equivalent, to Ms O’Donnell’s youthful behavior. With all due respect, I think you’re letting the MSM lead you here Carl.

  6. Agree with Tyouth and would like to add that the MSM doesn’t seem very interested in the looneys and extremists, at least not the Democrat ones, already in Congress. Barnie Frank is not normal. Dennis Kucinich is not normal. Rush Holt is not normal. Maxine Waters? Nancy Pelosi? Henry Waxman? Boxer… Feinstein… Frankin?

    Place a candidate like O’Donnell in with that list and then explain why she even rates “looney” or “extremist”.

  7. Ha ha it is funny how the use of the word loony to describe the woman from Delaware is driving the comment thread. That was a minor aside from my point of view.

    Really – the fact that the Dems put up crap candidates all the time isn’t the standard that the Republicans should drive for ourselves; I think she had a thin resume and didn’t come across as a very effective candidate for senator.

  8. I saw an interview with outgoing Democratic Senator Ted Kaufmann today on CNBC. He said it was NOT the Obama policies, the excesses of power or anything like that. IT was the economy.

    He, and the rest of the Democrats believe that if we didn’t undertake stimulus, we would be in far worse shape. Keynesians to the death.

    I would agree with him on one point, if unemployment was 5%, the Dems would still hold power. So the question becomes hypothetical. If the Dems would have pursued classical solutions instead of Keynesian ones, would the economy be better off today or worse?

    one thing is for sure-without the stimulus of March 2009, there probably would be no Tea Party movement.

  9. I sincerely hope that both the White House and the Democrats in both houses of Congress focus upon maintaining their ‘achievements’ from the past two years: it will serve to remind the electorate of who, and what, they are. If they were truly smart, and malleable, they’d position themselves juuussst barely to the left of the Republicans, and whittle away at the Republican efforts and position thereby, in order to recoup some of their losses in 2012.
    …but, they cannot. As pointed out by many smarter and better informed than me, the ‘moderate’ Democrats are gone. Only the true believers remain: led by Nancy, Harry, Hoyer and Clyburn (who’s going to be, what, Extra-Special Super Sparkly Assistant Leader? What men will sacrifice for a title). I see no likelihood of them tacking toward the middle.
    Continued giveaways to unions and other bought ‘n sold voting blocs—or, attempting to do so—in the face of sincere efforts to the contrary on the Federal and increasingly state level will whittle away at support for Democrats in nonunion and, let us be frank, nonminority households.
    I’ll be unsurprised (but thrilled) to see another 5-10 Democratic congressmen fall victim, along with 5-7 Senators in ’12.
    I hope that Murkowski, Inhofe, and sundry other not-quite-conservatives don’t gum it up.

  10. the fact that the Dems put up crap candidates all the time isn’t the standard that the Republicans should drive for ourselves

    Do you realize that if you ran for office, that train wreck of a sentence fragment would be spread across the world as proof that you were a functional illiterate?

    You would be known to America as the guy who writes shit like “the fact isn’t the standard that we should drive for”. The Daily Show would have skits where English professors tried to diagram your sentences and were driven to hang themselves. Memeorandum would note that a blogger for Time linked approvingly to a story on Politico which revealed that undecided voters in your state associated a sentence from your opponent’s stump speech with words like “compelling”, “uplifting”, and “effective”, while they associated your phrasing

    the fact that the Dems put up crap candidates all the time isn’t the standard that the Republicans should drive for ourselves

    with words like “inept”, “drunk”, and “confused”.

    Later revelations that your opponent had stolen that part of his stump speech from Lenin would be dismissed with the response, “At least our guy knew to borrow from somebody who can write. The fact that he quoted without attribution isn’t the standard that you should drive for yourself though, is it? What does that mean, anyway?”

    After you lost by 30, nobody would say you were the ideal candidate. A lot of us would maintain that the focus on one sentence out of years of writing was a nearly criminal mischaracterization of a bright, committed champion of American values – and maintain even more strongly that even if what the other side pretended it could learn from obsessing over that one sentence were true, you were still a better choice than the plagiarizing Leninist who beat you!

    But there would be some guys who would make offhand remarks about how the party would have done better with better candidates, instead of functional illiterates like that Carl What’s-his-name, and who would be surprised that anybody would think anything of it.

  11. I like the New Yorker for the arts. The book and writing podcasts are very nice. If you like a certain type of the arts, you end up having to put up with standard issue thinking on political issues. Creative writers often lack creativity outside of the artistic. Curious.

    My writing has always been atrocious. I rarely proofread blog comments so I can never make any fun of anybody else nor can I run for office.

    I have some sympathy for candidates that have, well, irregular life stories. Mostly because if I ever ran for office I’d be massacred. I mean, I’d really be beat up. I’ve made a few mistakes. I’ve been divorced. I transferred out of my first college for getting a solid B-minus average (an Asian “fail” as the kids put it.) So, I get it. Sometimes an irregular career is because you are a flake and sometimes it is because you messed up when you were younger and then got your life together.

    Still, it’s up to the candidate to make a good case for him or herself. I’m not a cheap date, politically. You make your best case and I’ll listen. I don’t owe you anything, fair candidate, but you owe me your best. That’s how it works.

    I don’t know squat about O’Donnell and if the good people of Delaware picked her in a primary, but not in the general, then that’s that. Ain’t my state.

    The only thing I know about her is that I listened to about half of her debate with the other guy – “what’s his name”. Neither candidate blew me away. I’d vote for her if those were the only two choices, but her answers didn’t do anything for me. She seemed to have made her career in the world of public relations and marketing and bounced around a lot around conservative advocacy groups. So, from her working career I can’t tell much.

    Once again, it’s up to her to make the case and if the wind is blowing against her because of the rotten MSM, then, unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. Our candidates will have to be mimble enough to get around it. I suppose if the RNC wanted to help, that is how they could do it. Help the regular folks that won’t be as polished present their case.

    – Madhu

  12. Fair point, but I am not planning on running for office.

    Frankly they’d go through my posts here and elsewhere and the fact that I have a few misspellings would be the least of my “liberal crimes”.

    We are overplaying the issue a bit in that, in general, the Republicans smashed the Dems to bits almost everywhere and lots of the Republicans had issues that were made fun of on Daily Show to no avail.

    It goes back to the key point of the post… the Dems did NOT do anything about the wars that they inherited, so they lost the rabble-rousing kids on the street.

    They are the only ones watching the today show, anyways, and they’d rather vote green if they were going to vote at all.

  13. The prospect of being abused unfairly by the media is a big reason why most competent people wouldn’t consider running for public office. O’Donnell didn’t deserve the abuse. The media compared her to a nonexistent ideal candidate but didn’t apply a similar standard to her opponent, who was one of their own. But the important question was whether she would have been a better Senator than that opponent. I think the answer is clearly yes; she would have been a reliable conservative vote.

    Palin, or whoever the Republican candidate is in 2012, will get the O’Donnell media treatment, since it works. The Republican’s quirks will be emphasized ad nauseam while the Democratic opponent’s press releases will be taken at face value. Is anyone sure that O’Donnell would have lost if the media had been on her side?

  14. @ Carl From Chicago:

    I really meant for my comment to be directed at Bgates. I thought the comments were a bit too had on you, although I see his/her point too. My own meandering comment sort of confused things, I think.

    At any rate, I agree with your main points in the post.

    – Madhu

  15. I think you might be missing a point about O’Donnell and her failure to be elected. Keeping her in the race, I believe, was a sort of marker by the Tea Party: We’ll stand on principle even if it loses an election, rather than void that principle by nominating/supporting/electing someone who only pretends to be conservative. If nothing else, it sent a signal Republicans and other conservatives-in-name-only couldn’t miss.

    Too, the wacky background signaled that the SocCons were not in the driver’s seat. Dabbling in witchcraft and youthful indiscretions are not disqualifiers for the Tea Party. Fiscal conservatism is the only value they found to be worth fighting for.

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