TPM Reader JB looks to the big picture …
This post keys into many of the themes that you have emphasized over the past decade. In the TPM construct of politics, Periello is violating the typical “meta” relationship between Republicans and Democrats by remaining strong and true to his convictions. As Bill Clinton made clear, Strong and Wrong trumps Weak and Right. In this case, Periello, isn’t screaming or making vague threats to look tough, but is being tough by standing up for what he believes. Respect is earned when you take responsibility, if not pride, for your actions. Running away from your actions only makes you seem easily swayed by the crowd without a solid core on which to rely.
Divorcing myself from the current political reality, I don’t think one would have ever predicted that that saving the student loan program, revamping K-12 education, reaping a profit on TARP, saving the economy, providing health care coverage for all Americans while “bending the curve” on costs, saving the car companies, negotiating a new nuclear weapons treaty, and creating a consumer protection agency have been relegated to things that democrats are embarrassed to run on. There are no parallels to this session in decades. Indeed, the only other legislative session of my lifetime that comes close was 64-65 (I was born in 1965).
I blame the current situation on two things: poor politics from the White House and the typical weakness of Democrats. I think the WH team still hasn’t created a message or theme of this Presidency. The obvious one is the one David Brooks discussed this morning: restoration of greatness. Yes, an echo of morning in America, but really true. Everything he has accomplished is to position us for the future. Begin to rebuild the nation to move forward. This campaign should have been about the future, building on the accomplishments of the first two years with a plan to move forward. Simple theme, simple to articulate plans. Let the lower level functionaries call out the BS, call the Betsy McCaugheys, Michelle Bachmanns, and Newt Gingrichs liars the are, and match the volume of the rhetoric from the other side. This campaign should have been about values. We believe in America, restoring its greatness, giving everyone a fair shake. Citizens United should have been used as proof that the deck is going to be stacked against everyman and resulted from a Republican court.
In the face of no theme or foundation, the midterms became everyman for himself and all the democrats again looked weak. Running away from great accomplishments because they had no coherent answer to the noise machine. I gave money to Congressmen Grayson, Atty General Conway, and Congressman Sestak through Act Blue. Why? Because they stand up. Win or lose, I am proud that they know who they are, what they believe, and for whom they work. Where are today’s Jack Murthas, Ted Kennedys, or Paul Wellstones?
Despite my bellyaching, the economy likely drives the majority of the expected losses during the midterms. Despite this, losses could have been minimized by presenting a strong front with a good plan. I remain absolutely baffled at how my party is so good at policy and so bad at politics. It would be an amazing joke if the results weren’t so tragic.