Before Tuesday, humorist and political commentator P.J. O’Rourke described the the election not as a political event, but aptly, as a restraining order.
In the day-after press conference and then again in today’s “60 Minutes” interview, the President Obama bitterly clings to the idea that the 60+ loss of House seats along with another 5 in the Senate was merely a result of the bad economy and his personal failure to understand how wonderful things are going. (Democrats were a little lucky in which Senate seats were up for re-election this term, if several of the Senate seats that are up for re-election in 2012 were instead up this year, things could’ve been worse. Specifically, I’m thinking Democrat-held seats in Florida, Montana, Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and New Mexico at the very least.)
The first part of the disconnect is the disconnect that Obama’s actions over the past two years have had no impact – or at least no negative impact – on the economy. Obama likes to tout the 3 million jobs allegedly “saved or created” by the stimulus, but part of selling that stimulus was an estimation that the unemployment rate wouldn’t climb above 8 percent. Instead, it’s spent more than a year above 9.5 percent. And, it’ll get worse before it gets better. Once the economy does begin to recover, those people who’ve quit looking will start once again, causing the unemployment rate to rise before it begins to fall.
The second part was Obamacare. Fox News’ Juan Williams has been clinging bitterly to exit polling showing that the controversial health care law was third, while the economy was number one when voters were asked what their most important issue was. This view ignores the fact that the trillion dollar health care bill has cast a shadow over the economy. Compared to other legislation, the Obamacare places far more responsibility on government regulators to craft the law’s rules and implementation. So, you’ve got many businesses sitting on their figurative hands, waiting to see what exactly the rules are going to be so they know how much it’s going to cost them.
Like just about every other political commentator on the left has observed: Obama just doesn’t get it.
If you expand on the restraining order metaphor, Obama’s now been served, but it’s all a misunderstanding. If you’d just listen to him (as if anyone hasn’t – it’s difficult to avoid the man with the biggest bully pulpit in the country), then you wouldn’t be so angry.
Conversely, there’s some indication that the GOP does get it. More than one of them has expressed the understanding that Tuesday was a vote against what President Obama’s been doing – not for the GOP.
The consensus is that, unlike Clinton, Obama will be unable or unwilling to pivot to the center. Despite Obama’s claim that he doesn’t think the American people want Washington, D.C. to “re-litigate” the past two years, the completely partisan, one-sided Obamacare bill will be a fixture of the next two years simply because it does cast such a shadow over the economy. Republicans will use their newly acquired oversight powers in the House so we can find out what’s really in that monstrosity that the Democrats passed. I suspect that there’s a lot in there that won’t stand up to scrutiny, simply because of the law’s size and the way it was passed.
Of course, if Obama truly believes that all the greatest political communicator since Reagan has to do is explain better, then there’s really no need to move to the center. Who knows, maybe the American people really do want Obama’s liberal agenda. Maybe more Keynesian spending will work.
Maybe porcine quadropeds will fly.