Commentary Magazine


Topic: Democratic political strategist

Reversing Political Fortunes

On ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday, the Democratic political strategist James Carville — in commenting on this devastating (for the Democrats) Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll — said that it is “absolutely possible” that the Democrats could lose control of Congress, and, if the election were held today, they almost certainly would. That is by now a commonplace belief.

Carville’s admission is quite a contrast to what he was saying just last year. “Today,” he proclaimed, “a Democratic majority is emerging, and it’s my hypothesis, one I share with a great many others, that this majority will guarantee the Democrats remain in power for the next 40 years.” Carville even wrote a book on the topic: 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.

Carville’s guarantee, at least at this hour, looks to have been quite a faulty one. Many Democrats were making extravagant claims in the aftermath of President Obama’s election, though few went so far as to guarantee a multigenerational rule in power. But, to be fair, Republicans are susceptible to similar intoxications. There is a tendency in politics, as in life, to take events that are clearly important and to ascribe to them unique, history-altering significance. That is rarely the case. And those moments in politics in which one party or one political philosophy is dominant can change, sometimes quickly. “This globe, and as far as we can see this Universe, is a theatre of vicissitudes,” John Adams wrote. That tends to be truer of politics than it is of most things.

Still, even with that caution in place, the declining fortunes of the Democrats since the inauguration of Mr. Obama is unusual. The midterm elections, by almost every metric, look like they will be shattering for the Democrats. And if they turn out to be so, the Obama presidency and modern liberalism will be badly damaged.

Beyond that, we don’t know what will emerge. I’m not inclined to make predictions much beyond this year, to say nothing of 40 years from now. Bill Clinton, after all, recovered quite well after the 1994 midterm elections and won reelection by a comfortable margin. Ronald Reagan looked vulnerable in the second year of his presidency and went on to defeat Walter Mondale in a landslide, carrying 49 states.

What we do know is that at this particular moment, President Obama and his party are back on their heels. They may well lose control of the House and potentially even the Senate. The GOP is in stronger shape than anyone could have imagined just a year ago. Republicans are winning the debate on the merits of most issues. And conservatism itself is on the ascendancy.

All of that is quite enough for me, for now.

On ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday, the Democratic political strategist James Carville — in commenting on this devastating (for the Democrats) Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll — said that it is “absolutely possible” that the Democrats could lose control of Congress, and, if the election were held today, they almost certainly would. That is by now a commonplace belief.

Carville’s admission is quite a contrast to what he was saying just last year. “Today,” he proclaimed, “a Democratic majority is emerging, and it’s my hypothesis, one I share with a great many others, that this majority will guarantee the Democrats remain in power for the next 40 years.” Carville even wrote a book on the topic: 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.

Carville’s guarantee, at least at this hour, looks to have been quite a faulty one. Many Democrats were making extravagant claims in the aftermath of President Obama’s election, though few went so far as to guarantee a multigenerational rule in power. But, to be fair, Republicans are susceptible to similar intoxications. There is a tendency in politics, as in life, to take events that are clearly important and to ascribe to them unique, history-altering significance. That is rarely the case. And those moments in politics in which one party or one political philosophy is dominant can change, sometimes quickly. “This globe, and as far as we can see this Universe, is a theatre of vicissitudes,” John Adams wrote. That tends to be truer of politics than it is of most things.

Still, even with that caution in place, the declining fortunes of the Democrats since the inauguration of Mr. Obama is unusual. The midterm elections, by almost every metric, look like they will be shattering for the Democrats. And if they turn out to be so, the Obama presidency and modern liberalism will be badly damaged.

Beyond that, we don’t know what will emerge. I’m not inclined to make predictions much beyond this year, to say nothing of 40 years from now. Bill Clinton, after all, recovered quite well after the 1994 midterm elections and won reelection by a comfortable margin. Ronald Reagan looked vulnerable in the second year of his presidency and went on to defeat Walter Mondale in a landslide, carrying 49 states.

What we do know is that at this particular moment, President Obama and his party are back on their heels. They may well lose control of the House and potentially even the Senate. The GOP is in stronger shape than anyone could have imagined just a year ago. Republicans are winning the debate on the merits of most issues. And conservatism itself is on the ascendancy.

All of that is quite enough for me, for now.

Read Less

The Gray Lady Is Stunned: Black Republicans!

The New York Times is caught by surprise. “Unanticipated,” (by whom? liberal reporters?) the Gray Lady calls the discovery that “at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans, the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials.” The Times hastens to assure us that this is Obama’s doing — inspiring and trailblazing for Republicans — but hastens to cast gloom and doom on their prospects:

But Democrats and other political experts express skepticism about black Republicans’ chances in November. “In 1994 and 2000, there were 24 black G.O.P. nominees,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist who ran Al Gore’s presidential campaign and who is black. “And you didn’t see many of them win their elections.”

Tavis Smiley, a prominent black talk show host who has repeatedly criticized Republicans for not doing more to court black voters, said, “It’s worth remembering that the last time it was declared the ‘Year of the Black Republican,’ it fizzled out.”

Well,  far down in the report, the Times lets on that these candidates actually like the Tea Parties and are getting support from supposedly racist, know-nothings (oh, oops, now the media meme tells us they are upscale, over-educated and mainstream Republicans):

The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. “I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos,” said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. “There is no violence or racism there.”

And what’s more, African Americans, the Times discovers, are attracted to conservative social positions. (“There is also some evidence that black voters rally around specific conservative causes. A case in point was a 2008 ballot initiative in California outlawing same-sex marriage that passed in large part because of support from black voters in Southern California.”)

If a batch of these candidates wins — with support from the Tea Parties, no less — what will the liberal chattering class do then? (Cognitive dissonance alert!) You can anticipate the spin. These are not “authentic” African-American leaders, they will say. Harry Reid may point out that they don’t sound Black. And the Congressional Black Caucus will be properly recast as the Liberal Congressional Black Caucus (unless the newcomers want to join, which will bring howls of protest from the liberals, who wouldn’t want their leftism to be diluted). But the “Republicans don’t like Blacks” meme (propounded by none other than the hapless Michael Steele) will take a bruising. After all, they can’t all be “inauthentic,” can they?

The New York Times is caught by surprise. “Unanticipated,” (by whom? liberal reporters?) the Gray Lady calls the discovery that “at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans, the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials.” The Times hastens to assure us that this is Obama’s doing — inspiring and trailblazing for Republicans — but hastens to cast gloom and doom on their prospects:

But Democrats and other political experts express skepticism about black Republicans’ chances in November. “In 1994 and 2000, there were 24 black G.O.P. nominees,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist who ran Al Gore’s presidential campaign and who is black. “And you didn’t see many of them win their elections.”

Tavis Smiley, a prominent black talk show host who has repeatedly criticized Republicans for not doing more to court black voters, said, “It’s worth remembering that the last time it was declared the ‘Year of the Black Republican,’ it fizzled out.”

Well,  far down in the report, the Times lets on that these candidates actually like the Tea Parties and are getting support from supposedly racist, know-nothings (oh, oops, now the media meme tells us they are upscale, over-educated and mainstream Republicans):

The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. “I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos,” said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. “There is no violence or racism there.”

And what’s more, African Americans, the Times discovers, are attracted to conservative social positions. (“There is also some evidence that black voters rally around specific conservative causes. A case in point was a 2008 ballot initiative in California outlawing same-sex marriage that passed in large part because of support from black voters in Southern California.”)

If a batch of these candidates wins — with support from the Tea Parties, no less — what will the liberal chattering class do then? (Cognitive dissonance alert!) You can anticipate the spin. These are not “authentic” African-American leaders, they will say. Harry Reid may point out that they don’t sound Black. And the Congressional Black Caucus will be properly recast as the Liberal Congressional Black Caucus (unless the newcomers want to join, which will bring howls of protest from the liberals, who wouldn’t want their leftism to be diluted). But the “Republicans don’t like Blacks” meme (propounded by none other than the hapless Michael Steele) will take a bruising. After all, they can’t all be “inauthentic,” can they?

Read Less




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