Ed Driscoll

Hide the Decline

While you don’t need George Will to know that the Democrats are in serious denial over their shellacking (“we didn’t get our message out!” “Our branding was off!” “We didn’t reframe the issues properly!” “It’s only a flesh wound!”), not surprisingly, he does a great job of describing just how badly they’re out of touch with America:

When Alexander Pope was on his deathbed, his doctor assured him that his breathing, pulse and other vital signs were improving. “Here I am,” Pope said to a friend, “dying of a hundred good symptoms.”

Some Democrats read the election returns as symptoms of health because things could have been worse: “Happily, we have leprosy, not cholera.” But embracing the fallacy of false alternatives is not a step toward recuperation. Neither is continuing the attitude that Democrats adopted when passing Obamacare and that foretold their unhappy election: “No compromise with the voters!”

For the second time in 24 months, Barack Obama has been at the epicenter of a historic election, this time with voters reconsidering the first one. For the third time in four years, they have emphatically complained. Democrats gained a total of 54 House seats in 2006 and 2008, but after Tuesday are in a net deficit over the past three cycles.

On Oct. 1, Nancy Pelosi, referring to Republicans, said, “I would rather be where we are than where they are.” Now she is where they were – in the minority in the House. The Democrats’ House caucus will be smaller and more homogenously liberal. Their Senate caucus will be leavened by one freshman who got there by strongly criticizing the defining aspects of Obama’s agenda (Joe Manchin of West Virginia) and another who endorsed an important part of George W. Bush’s (Chris Coons of Delaware, who endorsed extension of all the Bush tax cuts).

As Doug Ross writes, “Post Dempocalypse, handful of ‘centrist’ Democrats admit the truth–while lefty bloggers remain trapped in Reality Distortion Field.” One member of the left who’s surprisingly lucid about the impact of Tuesday’s election is former MSNBC reporter Craig Crawford, last seen in these parts distancing himself from Helen Thomas, whom he co-wrote a book with a few years ago, and praising antediluvian Democrat Ted Kennedy to the hilt during his funeral. But even so, Crawford asks, “Was 2008 the Outlier?”

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.

Has anyone heard from Zell Miller recently? He could very easily be doing a “See, I Told You So” victory tour right now.

Though Republicans are urged not to get cocky, Janet Daley of the London Telegraph asks a valid question: “The West is turning against big government–but what comes next?”