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'The Evanescence of Majorities'

In his latest Best of the Web column, James Taranto writes:

Here's a note of caution for President Obama and the Democrats: "Begin with the facts: A 51-48 percent victory is not a mandate." Surprisingly enough, the source of this warning is E.J. Dionne, the Washington Post's perennial liberal triumphalist.

It gets less surprising when you realize he wrote that in 2004: "Two nearly equal sides are engaged today, as they were on Tuesday, in a long-term struggle to make inroads into the other's patch. . . . On Wednesday [George W.] Bush told those who voted against him: 'I will do all I can do to deserve your trust.' Mr. President, I truly hope you realize how much work you have to do."

You won't be surprised to learn that Dionne is taking the opposite tack today: "Now Obama will have the strongest argument a politician can offer. Repeatedly, he asked the voters to settle Washington's squabbles in his favor. On Tuesday, they did. And so a president who took office four years ago on a wave of emotion may now have behind him something more valuable and durable: a majority that thought hard about his stewardship and decided to let him finish the job he had begun."

But of course. Any time a Democrat wins the White House, he has a "mandate" from the MSM -- even if he's won over less than a majority of the voters.