A liberal accounting of defeat
Especially after bad days, liberals like to go to columnists like Maureen Dowd of The New York Times for some reassurance that everything's fine with liberalism and it's just the rest of us who are a bad mix of weird, greedy, ethnocentric, dumb and scary folks.
Like a lighthouse in a storm, Dowd unfailingly guides lost-at-sea liberals back to the safe port of bigger government, political sneering, higher taxation, centralized planning and economic envy.
Here is Ms. Dowd's analysis last Wednesday, the morning after the nation's voters delivered a stunning and nationwide defeat to Democrats: "Even though it was predicted, it was still a shock to see voters humiliate a brilliant and spellbinding young president, who'd had such a Kennedy-like beginning."
It's more accurate to report that the public's "spellbinding" phase ended two years ago when the balloons and canned stadium speeches were put away and the real job of governing had to begin.
Clearly, the thrill is gone.
Regarding the "brilliant" part, Dowd failed to acknowledge that President Obama was far from brilliant in putting the jobs issue, the top concern of voters, on the back burner while he wasted two years trying to ram an unpopular health-reform bill through Congress.
Ms. Dowd is arguing that Obama remains as brilliant and spellbinding as ever and the people are just too dimwitted and propagandized to recognize it.
"Republicans," she asserted, "outcommunicated a silver-tongued president who was supposed to be Ronald Reagan's heir in the communication department."
Obama is "Kennedy-like," and then Reaganesque. Simply the best!
In fact, President Obama delivered dozens of major speeches to promote the Democrats' version of health reform. His problem was that the more he talked, the more the public turned against what he was saying -- the opposite of the impact that President Reagan generally produced when he argued a position.
Rather than a matter of communication or being "outcommunicated," Obama failed because he and his congressional allies were trying to sell a bad product.
The nation's nasty Republicans, concluded Dowd, were "able to persuade a lot of Americans that the couple in the White House was not American enough, not quite 'normal,' too radical, too Great Society" -- and, further, that "All that Ivy League schooling had made them think they knew better than the average American folks, not to mention the Founding Fathers."
Dowd got it right about the perception of Ivy League arrogance. That seems to be the natural reaction to what Michelle Obama declared in 2008: "Let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." A long-running lack of pride in America is simply not something that's felt by non-Harvard "average American folks."
Barack Obama, similarly, when asked while attending a European summit in 2009 if he believed in American exceptionalism, replied, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that Brits believe in British exceptionalism and Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." As political analyst Michael Barone put it, "In other words, not at all."
And Ms. Dowd's description of the previous night's political winners• Simply "a lot of conservative nuts." Quite a catty and bitter depiction of events by a top columnist at the so-called "paper-of-record."
I'm more positive about President Obama getting his wings clipped last Tuesday. I think it's healthy for people to increase their skepticism about someone who declared, speaking of himself, "We are the ones we've been waiting for."