Most of you have probably seen this by now:
That 10-point GOP lead is the widest in Gallup's polling history, and suggest serious Democratic losses in November. If the elections were today, we'd lose the House, with seats to spare. The Senate is seriously in play. There's no hyperbole here -- the Dems are headed toward crushing defeats this November.
And it's worse than that even:
Now, an enthusiastic vote counts just as much as an enthusiastic one, but it's also harder to get that unenthused voter to the polls. The Democratic turnout machine, which has made great strides in recent years, is going to have its work cut out just getting base voters out, and even then we'd still come up short. Yeah, it's bleak. And the White House can whine all it wants about the "professional left", fact is that this goes far beyond some blog or cable news host. So what to do?
I don't know about you, but it seems to me that if you want to get people enthusiastic you might want to pick a big old fight right about now instead of trying desperately to avoid controversy (also known as "kerfuffles".) In case the Democrats don't realize it, Republicans and right leaning Independents aren't going to vote for them no matter what they do. Even if they open up those FEMA camps and start rounding up every Muslim and Mexican looking person they see, it won't work. Neither will rolling over and playing dead.
This goes beyond "doing something", and into the realm of actually doing something to excite the base. The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. Half measures and compromises with Republicans who voted against final legislation certainly doesn't count. Failing to follow through on promises on everything from comprehensive immigration reform to DADT doesn't help. Fighting to open up more shoreline to drilling doesn't help. Lilly Ledbetter was a step forward, then the Stupak Amendment was two steps back.
In fact, from the beginning, this administration and Democratic congress seemed more concerned with "bipartisanship" for the sake of bipartisanship, than they were in passing the best possible legislation possible. Harry Reid came off the gate in 2008 by immediately whining about "60 votes" -- something I don't recall ever hearing from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Obama Administration indulged Max Baucus' "negotiations" with Republicans Mike Enzi and company, even as those Republicans publicly bragged that their entire strategy was to delay and obstruct.
People may whine about cable hosts and bloggers who point out these failings, and try to shoot the messenger. But we don't have a noise machine like Fox's. Rush Limbaugh reaches a third of the conservative base on a weekly base. There is nothing even remotely close to that on the Left. Limbaugh's weekly audience is 20 million. Keith Olbermann's is maybe a tenth of that.
No, this mess is the administration's making, with a healthy assist from Harry Reid's Senate. The shame is that Nancy Pelosi's House, which did its job, will bear the brunt of the voter backlash. But the White House won't be spared.
So what will happen if, as expected, Republicans win control of the House? We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they’re gearing up for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a “wave of committee investigations” — several of them over supposed scandals that we already know are completely phony. We can expect the G.O.P. to play chicken over the federal budget, too; I’d put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown sometime over the next couple of years.
It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get.
If I were President Obama, I’d be doing all I could to head off this prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe.
It's a slow motion car wreck in the works, and the best the White House and its allies can do is complain that we didn't clap loudly enough.
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