Belmont Club

"How Many Blocks Away?"

Polipundit thinks three pieces of news should alert the White House to the danger of political wipeout in November.

  • North Carolina added marriage protection to its constitution by a margin of 61-39!
  • Richard Mourdock defeated Obama’s favorite senator – the longest-serving Republican senator – by 61-39!
  • Scott Walker got more votes than his two Democrat opponents combined, even though he was “running” unopposed in the Republican primary!

It is certainly bad news for the Democrats.  After all, the Wall Street Journal notes Scott Walker obtained more votes than his Democratic primary opponents combined, giving lie to Huffington Post‘s interpretation that Tom Barrett has somehow stormed back for rematch.  The more obvious interpretation is that Big Labor, having decided to demonstrate its overwhelming power by the shores of Madison’s Lake Mendota, only succeeded in demonstrating how far it had fallen.

But the trend is not narrowly partisan. There is an anti-establishment wind blowing through the world which has swept incumbents away in Europe and elsewhere.  James Carville’s cries: Democrats “wake up!”

Democratic fundraisers, activists, supporters, and even politicians alike have somehow collectively lapsed into the sentiment that the president is going to be reelected and that we have a good shot to take the House back while holding the Senate. I ask: What are you smoking? What are you drinking? What are you snorting or just what in the hell are you thinking? Look around the world — do you see any governments or incumbents winning any elections out there? Did it happen in small elections in Germany or Britain, big elections in France and Greece or how about huge elections in the United States in 2008 and 2010? Please folks — wake up!

Some of those ‘folks’ might have thought that this problem, like others in the past, would be taken care of.  But if Carville thinks that activism, fundraising and and messaging alone can make a difference, maybe he should wake up too. The problem for the status quo is that the old controls don’t work any more. Reality is out-organizing, out-messaging and out-spending them by an order of magnitude. Unemployment, high gas prices, stagnating incomes are out-shouting the Administration. The Collector from the Wages of Sin is at the door and he’s muscling his way through the bouncer.

Yet as Richard Lugar discovered,  nobody loves the status quo any more, Republican or no. Carville sounds the alarm for his camp. The most interesting question is why he had to sound it at all.  The fact that the alarm had to be sounded speaks volumes about the political establishment’s preoccupation with itself.

The fundamental challenge facing the incumbents is that spin may not be enough this time. The huge losses incurred by the Washington Post; the recent despair of NYT employees over their vanishing pensions; the meltdown of Oprah Winfrey’s television channel — all suggest that even the media has its own troubles. How can the newsroom spin the public on Hope and Change when it is out looking for a job?

Carville’s belated realization that incumbents are unpopular is of a piece with Kofi’s Annan’s stunning discovery that Syria could be descending into civil war, against which possibility he has promised to deploy 300 “peace monitors”. It is a proposal whose sagacity is rivaled only by John Kerry’s idea that the US should help set up “safe zones” inside Syria to shelter civilians. Both Kerry and Annan are still thinking in terms of managing appearances. As Foreign Policy‘s article points out:

Kerry confirmed that there’s a debate inside the administration on when to officially declare that U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan’s plan has failed, even though two administration officials said last month that the plan “is failing.” The question is whether to let Annan declare it himself or to round up partners and allies and preempt Annan by calling it earlier.

“My view is it would be better for Annan to make a judgment about his own mission but his mission cannot become a vehicle of interminable delay, and we have to be prepared to take measures necessary to protect life and move the process,” Kerry said. “If [Annan] can pull a rabbit out of a hat, terrific, but I think we have to be planning a lot of contingencies while he’s operating because I’m not optimistic.”

There is in that policy something reminiscent of moving around the deck chairs on a ship a hundred years ago, with probably the same result. An atmosphere of bizarre detachment from reality is now on full display. Carville is calling for more resources to spin the message without quite realizing that the world turns too, perhaps in the opposite direction.

“Mit dem Angriff Steiners wird das alles in Ordnung kommen.”

“Mein Führer… Steiner… Steiner konnte nicht genügend Kräfte für einen Angriff massieren. Der Angriff Steiner ist nicht erfolgt.”

“Es bleiben im Raum: Hillary, Axelrod, Carney und Jarrett.”

Remain the room folks. Now what should they say about Steiner?

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