Ed Driscoll

Next Election, Don’t Count on the Seniors

In her weekly column at First Things, Elizabeth Scalia, the Blogosphere’s Anchoress, writes that senior citizens “inherited their parents high-regard for journalism. As recently as 2000, senior citizens could be counted on to find the press credible; a quick look at the geriatric-friendly advertisers of our network nightly news broadcasts gives emphatic evidence of who is still watching by-appointment TV news.”

Then came the election of 2008, when it was obvious to all concerned, “the mainstream media utterly abandoned whatever responsibilities to the public trust,” Elizabeth adds, and began their passionate romance with BHO:

At a large, multi-generational family gathering this past weekend, inevitable discussions arose about the economy, jobs, and the bleak outlook for the immediate future. The general consensus was that our president is a failure, the congress is a wreck, and there is no authenticity or originality in our leadership, nor in our press. A majority in attendance—both Democrats and Republicans—had voted for Barack Obama (a few grudgingly, as they had supported Clinton) but while everyone expressed disappointment (there was not a single voice raised in support of the president) the senior citizens confided a deep sense of betrayal—of their trust being shattered. When I asked one of them, a former “Reagan Democrat” who had voted for Dole, then Bush, then Kerry why she had pulled the lever for Obama, she threw up her hands helplessly, “all I knew was what I heard! That other guy seemed too hot-headed and that Sarah Palin; she just wanted to play dress-up!”

And that was the general response from that side of the room: “I paid attention; I read all the papers—they all loved this guy!”

“He was new! We needed change!”

But not, as it turns out, the kind of change we are currently experiencing. Asked if they regretted their vote, to a one they said “yes.” Most of them said they wished, in retrospect, that they had voted for Hillary Clinton who “at least understood that the economy…it’s the economy, right? Stupid?”

None of them will be cast a second vote for this president, nor will they be so quick to listen to a press that—absenting an Obama abdication—will cast the flop-sweat from its brow and once again lift him to their shoulders, chanting new slogans and dire warnings about the opposition, but no longer singing songs from The Student Prince.

If Bill Keller’s recent column is an indicator, it seems any Obama deficiencies in the election of ’12 will be again relegated to the shoulders of George W. Bush, but that won’t play with the seniors, this time, either. Bush, it turns out, wasn’t so bad. He was authentic, and worked hard, even if he made some mistakes, just like them. He kept his nose to the grindstone and never complained, just like them. He loved America nakedly, just like them.

And if those Weapons of Mass Destruction ended up not being where they were supposed to be, well, Bush believed what he had been told. Just like them.

So, no, demonizing Bush is not going to work in this election, and—as demonstrated in the recent special election in New York’s ninth congressional district—the seniors will no longer be swayed by dark warnings that the GOP will end medicare and social security—these older people realize that the programs of the New Deal and the Great Society have become unsustainable and that—somehow—a real and drastic change must happen, soon.

It’s not easy coming to grips with the notion that the president just isn’t all that into most of the American people.