Unwilling to delay until tomorrow mistakes that could be made immediately, Democrats used 2010 to begin losing 2012. Trying to preemptively drain the election of its dangerous (to Democrats) meaning, all autumn Democrats described the electorate as suffering a brain cramp, an apoplexy of fear, rage, paranoia, cupidity - something. Any explanation would suffice as long as it cast what voters were about to say as perhaps contemptible and certainly too trivial to be taken seriously by the serious.
It is amazing the ingenuity Democrats invest in concocting explanations of voter behavior that erase what voters always care about, and this year more than ever - ideas. This election was a nationwide recoil against Barack Obama's idea of unlimited government.
The more he denounced Republicans as the party of "no," the better Republicans did. His denunciations enabled people to support Republicans without embracing them as anything other than impediments to him.
Some liberals got it, but not Mr. Obama. No, he insisted in his first press conference that it was really that he didn't move quickly enough to enact his central control over even more areas of American lives. No, what Americans were really asking for was to get that Cap & Trade passed, and to let them have ObamaCare in full now, rather than in 2014.* Charles Krauthammer nailed this on Fox News last night, after the press conference.
When he was asked about three times at the beginning of the press conference, ‘Do you think people were repudiating you or voting against the health-care plan?’ And he acted as if he was being questioned about the natural order of stuff, as if the reporters were questioning the elliptical orbit of the planets. He couldn’t understand how anybody could not see the beneficence of health-care reform. …
He gets this incredible landslide against him and his policies — and he believes … that the progress isn’t rapid enough. He’s just had a refutation of two years of his agenda and his ideology, and he pretends as if nothing has happened.
Some liberals see it, though. Doyle McManus in the LA Times:
When the Democrats lost in 1994, Clinton's reaction the next day was: "They sent us a clear message. I got it."
You didn't hear words like that from Obama on Wednesday. He blamed his party's reverses on the slow pace of economic recovery, on the "ugly mess" of deal-making in Congress and on the White House bubble that makes him look isolated. The only specific failing the president acknowledged on his part was his failure to keep the business community on his side. Where Clinton accepted — grudgingly — that his party had overreached and needed to move toward the center, Obama insisted that everything his administration had done was right, even if some of it was misunderstood.
It's the policies, stupid. It doesn't seem that Mr. Obama will ever admit that any of the policies he pursued were mistaken. It bodes poorly for rolling back some of these mistaken efforts, it bodes poorly for economic growth and recovery over the next two years, and it bodes poorly for Mr. Obama's chances in 2012. I don't think he's concerned about that if he can put in place sufficient immovable nanny-stateism before that day of reckoning arrives. It'll be the task of the Republican House in 2011 to do what they can to stabilize the damage, and preserve options for moving the immovable in the future.
*Note: The only reason the numbers came close to showing that it was paid for was because of that 2014 start date, 10 years of taxes for 6 years of government healthcare.