October 3, 2010


More than distance and altitude separate “Main Street” Americans from those who govern them. The disconnect is so deep, so wide, that filling it is hard to imagine. . . . In less than a year, this columnist has traveled 6,609 miles, interviewed 432 people registered as or identifying with Democrats in 17 states, and written about scores of races for U.S. Senate and House seats and governors’ mansions.

In the process, I lost my car’s transmission, wore out four new tires (and promptly flattened two replacements), cracked a windshield, broke a passenger window, had emergency surgery, was chased by a funnel cloud on the Great Plains, staggered through two blizzards, was pelted by hail, wilted in record heat and even saw a lot of locusts (although a farmer assured me it wasn’t a swarm).

All along “blue highways,” Americans spoke about their disappointment in the change they so proudly supported in 2008 — some whispering for fear of being labeled racist, some shouting at tea party rallies.

In coffee shops, on streetcorners and farms, at factories, the narrative was always the same: How could such great promise have let the country down so much, so quickly?

Beltway pundits talk of how angry America is. They seem incredulous that Americans somehow find this historic president’s administration anything but exceptional.

What’s exceptional is the blame coming from Washington, which only deepens the divide between the elite and Main Street.

Indeed. All I can say is, I told you so. . . .

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