Commentary Magazine


Not Buying the Democrats’ Excuses

Democrats have two excuses for what has gone so terribly wrong in the last year. The first is the “America is ungovernable” meme. Well, it has been impossible to govern from the Left, certainly. But we have yet to see evidence that a Centrist agenda, fiscal restraint, and pro-growth policies don’t work or can’t pass. Maybe Obama-Reid-Pelosi aren’t capable of formulating or passing broadly popular proposals, but that is different from claiming that there is something broken in our constitutional system or political culture. Let’s see how Govs. Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell do. Then we can revisit whether we have an “ungovernable” problem or a competency and/or extremism problem.

The second excuse is that this is all a communications problem — from the most eloquent politician (we were told) of our time who had a sycophantic media at his feet for the better part of a year. Really, no one is buying this one. Susan Estrich is blunt:

It’s not a communications problem. What’s gone wrong is that people see the country swimming in debt, see the jobs recovery lagging, see friends and neighbors who are not even hanging on, and they just don’t know how this administration is planning to pay for a massive health care reform effort. The appointment of a bipartisan commission on the deficit only underscores the problem and makes it seem that the administration has no answer for it except another new spending program.

Makes complete sense. The White House will ignore it.

Charlie Cook agrees it’s not a communication problem. The usually mild-mannered pollster unloads:

This is a reality problem. And I think they just made some grave miscalculations and as it became more clear that they had screwed up, they just kept doubling down their bet. And so I think, no, this is one of the biggest miscalculations that we’ve seen in modern political history.

Yowser. What’s more, he says it is so bad: “And it’s very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don’t lose the House.” Sounds like more than a communication problem.

If Cook is right, and especially if the Democrats also lose the Senate (or come close to doing so), there will be another round of finger-pointing and excuse-mongering. There might even be some soul-searching. But until the Democrats lose enough bodies, it seems as though they aren’t going to rethink their approach and we aren’t going to get a course correction. That’s why they have elections, after all.