[I have been gone for some time, and perhaps the loss of lackluster McCain and subsequent abandonment of "moderate" Barack Obama to the machinations of Pelosi, Reid, et. al., affected me more than I knew. But if so, Brown's victory has revitalized me! Or, equally likely, I was just a lazy ass who got distracted and wandered off for no good reason and am now back, again for no good reason. Your choice, I guess. --- AOC ]
Back in the summer of 2009, while celebrating a notable birthday of a good friend, I was chatting with two of the birthday boy’s very liberal, very activist friends. They were naturally overjoyed by Obama’s election (and, in fact, by Biden’s selection—being that rarest of things: Biden groupies), and were certain it was just the start of a sweeping demographic and electoral shift to a permanent progressive majority. Not unlike our own Angry New Mexican (well, except for ANM’s odd infatuation with Her Thighness and low opinion of our President).
Having had some of the same experience a certain number of years before (remember that coming permanent Republican majority?) I expressed skepticism. I told them that the Democrats had arrogantly assumed that the electorate’s mandate for reform and fiscal responsibility was a mandate for sweeping progressive changes, despite the massive evidence to the contrary. And the public was, I told them, becoming angry at this apparent disconnect and the apparent arrogant disregard for Main Street’s traditional center-right views.
They were scornful, and in the fullness of time we made a little bet. In our conversation, we had each agreed that the GOP would gain some seats in the House during 2010, but not enough to pick up a majority. But we disagreed on what would happen in the Senate in 2010. So I bet that the GOP would pick up enough seats to end the super-majority (but not retake the Senate) and my counterpart bet that the Democrats would pick up at least one additional net seat, increasing their super-majority. We agreed to a push if things remained 60-40.
I’m not going to assume victory just now, as there’s plenty of time for the GOP to screw up or for the Democrats to get their act together, but I have to say that my fine dinner at an excellent restaurant on my liberal acquaintance’s dime is looking pretty solid. And, even more gratifying, for the reason I mentioned: the sheer arrogance and incompetence of the Democratic leadership. (The mirror image, to be fair, of the Republican arrogance and incompetence that lost the GOP the whole shebang in 2008.)
Witness Brown, a moderate, country-club style republican in the mode of a McCain or Olympia Snow, become a rallying point for libertarian and Tea Party money. And doing it not by concealing who he is, but by emphasizing who he’s not. He is a moderate, center-right guy, he is not a progressive lackey of Pelosi and Reid. That was enough, even running for Ted Kennedy’s hereditary seat in Massachusetts, and it will be enough for lots of other folks in the elections to come. Unless the Democrats change course—which they won’t (as a party, at least—many of the reform-minded Dems who ran in 2008 may take action to remind folks why they got elected, and that’s a good thing).
Oddly, this could all actually end up working out well for Obama in 2012, if he sees the writing on the wall and, like Clinton before him, reinvents himself to be what folks like Angry Midwesterner assumed he was in 2008: a fiscally responsible reform minded candidate who wants to change a broken corrupt system. As I said at the time, he really did have an historic opportunity to accomplish great things, if indeed he was the moderate reformer he claimed to be.
Conspiratorial folks might even whisper he was always that and this was all a grand scheme to depose Witch Queen Pelosi and Crown Price Harry from their thrones…but I think that misses the true tragedy. Obama was always both a reform minded candidate and a progressive true believer. He was seduced into believing that the 2008 election had given him the historical opportunity to move beyond simple reform and enact the Second Bill of Rights of his hero, FDR. He thought he could follow through on Saul Alinsky’s goal to radically transform society without all the blood and revolution and slaughter of the enemies of the people. So he allowed himself to be used by Pelsoi (another true believer) and Reid (a corrupt bastard) in a shameless attempt to grab power over most of the American economy (by effectively nationalizing the financial, heavy industrial, and medical industries). For our own good, of course.
And now, the people have reminded him that that’s not really what America is all about. Perhaps now he can refocus on doing the things that really do need to be done and that he said should be done: bringing transparency and fiscal responsibility back to the Federal process, finding a way to keep health care affordable for the average American without breaking the economy, restoring America’s image around the world, and working with our international partners to help spread prosperity and rule of law wherever we can. Those are truly great goals, and worthy of real bipartisan effort.
Which we may now, finally, actually get.