Commentary Magazine


The Democrats’ Obama-Induced Fury

Charles Lane does not mince words:

Millions of Americans long to tell their bosses “take this job and shove it.” Hardly any have the power and money to do so, especially in these recessionary times. Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana, however, is the exception. His stunning retirement from the Senate is essentially a loud and emphatic “screw you” to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. For months now, Bayh has been screaming at the top of his voice that the party needs to reorient toward a more popular, centrist agenda — one that emphasizes jobs and fiscal responsibility over health care and cap and trade. Neither the White House nor the Senate leadership has given him the response he wanted. Their bungling of what should have been a routine bipartisan jobs bill last week seems to have been the last straw.

Lane seems to think there’s a possible Bayh primary challenge for 2012, which I find questionable. (I don’t sense that primary-voting Democrats are starved for a Clintonian Third Wave, minus the Clintons.) Less debatable however is his suspicion that Bayh’s seat is now ripe for a GOP pickup and that “if present trends continue, November could turn into a Republican rout.”

Lane also touches on the subtext here: the anger and disappointment of many Democrats who now look upon Obama as not a “sort of God” but rather as a curse. He has not merely failed to advance their decades-old agenda but is now perpetrating a Marx Brothers–like farce, racing around the political landscape, wrecking havoc on all of them. How annoyed, if not furious, must all those Democratic officeholders be? They are going to be out of jobs – while Obama declares himself to be content with one term and sneers at those in his party who are concerned with such mundane trifles as getting re-elected.

Wins by Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell last year were the first rumblings of trouble. Scott Brown was one political earthquake, and Evan Bayh may be a second. But the 10 on the Richter scale has not, I suspect, come. We’ll have to wait until November, when lots and lots of Democrats experience what it’s really like to run for office in the age of Obama. Is it any wonder that Bayh and so many other Democrats are choosing to forgo the experience?