What the Election Was Not About
3. Obstructionist Republicans
A third explanation often aired is that Republicans are good at destroying noble things like Obamism, but not good at governing. Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox News and the usual partisan suspects deluded the gullible public. The result is that we still do not appreciate the wonders of ObamaCare (check those rising premiums), and will soon choke without cap and trade, and will applaud Obama for the trivial things like the Government Motors Volt. Yet Obama and the left seem oblivious to the fact that they gave as good as they got. Here in California Jerry Brown’s commercials, as well as Boxer’s, were as vicious as their opponents', more so in fact. My only surprises are, one, that dozens of Republicans survived the smearing and character destruction, and, two, Obama et al. are now calling for a time-out and "can’t we all get along" brotherhood. Ask yourself this: had Obama enjoyed a 60-seat gain after his “enemies” talk, would he now have called for a new era of political healing and harmony? The notion that stonewalling conservatives derailed a successful president is adolescent.
Oh yes, race. I mention that because on election day Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post has already played that preemptory card to explain the repudiation of the Obama agenda. Here’s why that is also crazy:
a) The anger is against the Obama agenda and those who promote it. A Nancy Pelosi is as unpopular, or more unpopular, than Barack Obama. Lots of white-male entrenched incumbents lost not because they supported a black man, but because they oversaw the government takeover of health care, borrowed $3 trillion in 21 months, perpetuated the "culture of corruption," and saw unemployment rise to 10%.
b) The Tea Party zealots backed all sorts of candidates, women like Sharron Angle, Hispanics like Marco Rubio, blacks like Allen West, and Asians like Van Tran. Contrary to Robinson’s charges, race or gender was incidental -- not essential -- to their support.
c) Barack Obama has encountered no more venom—and in fact much less—than what George Bush or Bill Clinton endured. As of yet, thank God, we have not seen an Alfred Knopf novel like Checkpoint aimed at Obama, or anything like the 2006 Toronto prize-winning film Death of a President, which imagined the shooting of George Bush. I don't recall Robinson at the time suggesting that such sick, unhinged hatred of Bush was either untoward or motivated by nefarious forces.
d) By 2001 the two highest foreign policy officials of the U.S. government—Secretary of State and National Security Advisor—were both African-Americans—and appointed by George Bush. There was some racism directed at them, but it came mostly from the anti-war Left (cf. the despicable comments of a Harry Belafonte)— and especially from abroad, as in the case of the sick, anti-Rice cartoons that appeared in the Palestinian papers. Again, I don't recall outrage from Robinson over that overt racism.
e) To the degree racial divisiveness is more apparent after 2008, it is largely due to the Obama administration. The president himself called for Latinos to see Republicans as "enemies." He appealed to racial groups to vote on the basis that the Republicans did not wish them to. He used racially loaded imagery to suggest that the Republicans should sit in the back of the car. He suggested that the Cambridge police, on no evidence, had engaged in stereotyping and had acted stupidly. His attorney general called Americans "cowards" for not wishing to talk about race on his terms. No need to repeat the past racist rants of Van Jones. His Supreme Court nominee gave reasons why a "wise Latina" intrinsically would make a better judge than a white counterpart. And all this came after the 2008 mess with the overt racist Rev. Wright, the "typical white person" slur, and the condescending put-down of the white clingers of Pennsylvania. To the degree racial polarization has surfaced, it has been due entirely to Barack Obama's modus operandi, saying different things to different audiences, predicated on their race — and whether the comments are thought to remain private and not for public dissemination.
f) One thing has changed, however. The near obsessive use of the slur "racist" in lieu of an argument has now so inflated the currency of that charge that it has been rendered meaningless — and, in fact, tells us far more about the character of the accuser than of the intended target.
So What Was Tuesday?
The truth is always the simplest explanation. Here it goes in simple language from the beginning: Obama was elected largely because of public furor over Bush/Iraq. The fawning media hid his socialist background. He ran as a centrist. The Wall Street meltdown wiped away the small McCain/Palin lead. Obama in his hubris took that flukish set of events and reinvented them into proof that he could deliver to the left a once-in-a-century EU-style socialist makeover of America. That effort polarized the country, stalled the recovery, and terrified the private sector into stasis. Obama, who was always himself given something (take your pick—Harvard admission, Harvard Law Review billet, Chicago Law School tenure offer, Noble Peace Prize, etc.) without requisite achievement, is thus stunned that the economy is not a malleable law school dean whom he can hope and change into compliance. So naturally he is angry and has turned to almost everything in the past that worked: the race card, the get-out-the-minority vote card, the enemy Republican bad actors, the greedy rich takers, etc.. But now none of the old "them" bogeymen work; the more that tactic is tried, the more the economy stalls and the people get angry. It’s that simple. He can talk all he wishes, but until he offers fiscal responsibility, private sector encouragement, reassurance of adhering to singular American capitalism, and pro-jobs tax policies, he will continue more of these Orwellian, thinking-out-loud press conferences.