There is a palpable change in the attitude of the left. The left can no longer marginalize its opposition with acusations of racism and extremism; that model does not hold up in the demographic of the Massachusetts election. Since the Administration is unwilling to call the vote what it is (a referendum on their liberal agenda), the new effort is to associate the anger that voters expressed at the Masachusetts polls with the momentum that carried Obama into office. Prior to the election, the left characterized angry voters as extremists and racists. Now, however, there is a rush to paint a different picture. Massachusetts shows a clear centrist movement of a dissatisfied electorate. Here is Robert Gibbs explaining that this is just a hold-over of anger from the 2008 election.
In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, President Obama commented on the momentum that carried Scott Brown into office. Unfortunately, he continues to indirectly bring up George Bush in order to explain the angst felt by the public, indicating that voters are upset not just about the last year but about the policies of the last eight years.
The President is not the only person to express this sentiment. Following his campaign swing through Massachusetts with Martha Coakley, many Democrats were already beating the George Bush drum. As Democrats filed out of the Coakley rally, a general sentiment, repeated enough to intimate some coordination, was that Obama was the unfortunate victim of an inherited economy. As long as the media allows this sentiment to pass without comment, the last eight years will continue to be a convenient excuse.
The numbers in Massachusetts bear out that the independent vote that went to the Democrats in 2008 went to the Republican candidate in 2010. How this is hold-over anger from 2008 is difficult to justify. There is a fresh anger. In reaction to the economic crisis we have had no real effort to address the fundamental weaknesses in the economy. Instead, the priority of the Administration and Congress has been to throw the country into massive debt. More emphasis was placed on a runaway health care reform that will, regardless of accounting tricks, increase the deficit. National security has taken a turn for the worse. Effort has been expended chasing an Olympic bid and carbon treaty in Copenhagen.
To President Obama’s credit, he did comment that the healthcare vote should be put on hold until Senator-elect Brown is seated. It remains to be seen what shape healthcare reform will take in the future. The immediate reaction by Democrats was to find a way to push the reforms through, and it is encouraging that some of that rhetoric has died.
The consequence of the brash heathcare push by both Congress and the Administration may be that we get no healthcare reform at all. That would be an unfortunate failure, as there is a need for realistic reform that encourages competition and reduces cost. We do not need a “reform” that expands the role of government and plunges the US into more debt.
Whatever happens over the remainder of 2010 with regard to heathcare, regardless what happens with midterm elections, there is only one thing that is certain: nobody is voting either for or against the polices of the past. It is time for Obama to face the facts and take some ownership of his agenda.