Commentary Magazine


Re: The Democrats’ Obama-Induced Fury

The Evan Bayh announcement is a downer for Democrats. In the “losers” category, Chris Cillizza puts “Democratic morale.” He’s got a point:

In the month (or so) since Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) special election victory in Massachusetts, Democratic strategists had argued that the party — and the president — had found their footing a bit, pointing to the aggressive approach by Obama in a tete a tete with House Republicans as evidence of their morale makeover. Bayh’s decision saps that optimism badly. “It is like getting turned down repeatedly for dates,” explained one Democratic consultant of the series of retirement decisions in the party in recent months.”In the end you start worrying whether there is something wrong with you.” The unanswerable question for Democrats is whether Bayh’s decision — coming on the heels of the retirement of North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan — makes other vulnerable Senators or House members reconsider their plans.White House: The White House’s hopes of building momentum in advance of next week’s bipartisan health care summit were quashed with Bayh’s indictment of the political atmosphere in Washington. Bayh’s decision is also likely to dominate a significant chunk of the political coverage in the coming days, making it harder for other events — like the President’s energy event today in Maryland today — to break through. For a White House that has struggled badly with staying on message, the Bayh news is a further complication.

And if that’s not depressing enough for Democrats, the latest Rasmussen poll shows a nine-point advantage for Republicans in generic congressional polling. It’s quite a fall for Obama – the once-considered savior of the Democratic party (and the nation, we were told), now the source of such angst. The health summit already was a bit of a smoke-and-mirrors routine, and now it has been blown away by some cold, hard facts. Obama is losing his grip, not only on the country but also on his own party. The mask of bipartisanship pasted together over the last few weeks has been ripped off. And panic is again sweeping through the ranks.

We keep hearing about that civil war breaking out among Republicans. Tea partiers and country-club conservatives are supposed to fight it out. Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist were going to have a blood feud. There is little evidence of that. But there sure is a huge storm brewing on the Democratic side, although the mainstream media is slow to catch on. Dump Obama’s agenda or double down? Forget health care and revive that bipartisan jobs bill that helped drive Bayh into retirement? That’s where the action is. And the defections, retirements, and backbiting have only just begun, I think.