Nov 03 2010

Punting the Pundits: The Morning After

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Will Obama and the Democrats now get the message? The center is too far right. We did not elect them to continue the same destructive policies of the last administration. We elected them to do the bold things they said they would do really regulate Wall St. and the banks, real health care reform and regulation, ending DADT and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan not expanding them into Pakistan and Yemen. Had they tried that and failed because of Republican obstruction maybe last night would have been far different.


Glenn Greenwald: Pundit sloth: blaming the Left

Ten minutes was the absolute maximum I could endure of any one television news outlet last night without having to switch channels in the futile search for something more bearable, but almost every time I had MNSBC on, there was Lawrence O’Donnell trying to blame “the Left” and “liberalism” for the Democrats’ political woes. Alan Grayson’s loss was proof that outspoken liberalism fails. Blanche Lincoln’s loss was the fault of the Left for mounting a serious primary challenge against her. Russ Feingold’s defeat proved that voters reject liberalism in favor of conservatism, etc. etc. It sounded as though he was reading from some script jointly prepared in 1995 by The New Republic, Lanny Davis and the DLC.

There are so many obvious reasons why this “analysis” is false: Grayson represents a highly conservative district that hadn’t been Democratic for decades before he won in 2008 and he made serious mistakes during the campaign; Lincoln was behind the GOP challenger by more than 20 points back in January, before Bill Halter even announced his candidacy; Feingold was far from a conventional liberal, having repeatedly opposed his own party on multiple issues, and he ran in a state saddled with a Democratic governor who was unpopular in the extreme. Beyond that, numerous liberals who were alleged to be in serious electoral trouble kept their seats: Barney Frank, John Dingell, Rush Holt and many others. But there’s one glaring, steadfastly ignored fact destroying O’Donnell’s attempt — which is merely the standard pundit storyline that has been baking for months and will now be served en masse — to blame The Left and declare liberalism dead. It’s this little inconvenient fact:

  Blue Dog Coalition Crushed By GOP Wave Election

Robert Reich: Why Obama Should Learn the Lesson of 1936, not 1996

Which lesson will the president learn from the midterm election — that of Clinton in 1996, or FDR in 1936? The choice will determine his strategy over the next two years. Hopefully, he’ll find 1936 more relevant. . . .

Obama’s best hope of reelection will be to re-frame the debate, making the central issue the power of big businesses and Wall Street to gain economic advantage at the expense of the rest of us. This is the Democratic playing field, and it’s more relevant today than at any time since the 1930s.

The top 1 percent of Americans, by income, is now taking home almost a quarter of all income, and accounting for almost 40 percent of all wealth. Meanwhile, large numbers of Americans are losing their homes because banks won’t let them reorganize their mortgages under bankruptcy. And corporations continue to lay off (and not rehire) even larger numbers.

With Republicans controlling more of Congress, their pending votes against extended unemployment benefits, jobs bills, and work programs will more sharply reveal whose side they’re on. Their attempt to extort extended tax cuts for the wealthy by threatening tax increases on the middle class will offer even more evidence. As will their refusal to disclose their sources of campaign funding.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: And now for the next battle

President Obama allowed Republicans to define the terms of the nation’s political argument for the past two years and permitted them to draw battle lines the way they wanted. Neither he nor his party can let that happen again.

Democrats would be foolish to turn in on themselves in a fruitless battle over whether their troubles owe to a failure to mobilize and excite their base or to win support from the political center. In fact, Democrats held onto moderate voters while losing independents. What hurt them most was this brute fact: Voters younger than 30 made up 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 but only about half that on Tuesday, according to network exit polls. This verdict was rendered by a much older and much more conservative electorate. Yes, there was an enthusiasm gap.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Chamber of Commerce backlash

Decades ago the Chamber of Commerce enjoyed a Norman Rockwell-like image in the minds of many Americans: working in the interest of mom-and-pop stores everywhere and sponsoring community events such as Little League baseball and holiday parades.

And while there may still be some local chambers that fit that bill, this election cycle has given a much clearer picture of what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is all about – except when it comes to lobbying to make their health care more expensive, privatize their social security and outsource their jobs .

The U.S. Chamber stated that its goal has been to spend $75 million on a midterm election that will break fundraising records. Its war chest is devoted almost entirely to defeating Democrats who take on big corporate interests. While Chamber President and chief executive Tom Donohue would have Americans believe that his organization is still working in the interest of small and mid-sized businesses, that’s simply not true. In 2008, a third of its income came from just 19 members – big companies to whom the chamber is beholden . That probably explains why only 249 of 7,000 local chambers are now members, and why more and more are dropping out.

John Nichols: Midterm Elections Define Presidents

It is probably true that we all suffer from a bit of “most-important-election-of-our-lifetime” fatigue.

They can’t all be the most important.

Why would this one matter more, say, than 2008, when a president who was supposed to transform our politics was elected?

Here’s a notion: presidents are only as powerful as their first round of midterms.

Joan Walsh: Is there any silver lining for Dems?

In California, Democrats win big, showing wealthy Republicans can’t always buy what they want

Democrats are cleaning up after a storm Tuesday night and trying to find silver linings in the clouds. Democrats lost the House by the biggest margin since Truman was president and made gains in the Senate. Exit polls showed up to 90 percent of voters said the scary economy drove their vote.

It’s clear the party was doomed by coming to power in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Some Democrats are going to continue pointing back to the fact that President Obama and the 2009 Congress inherited that mess. But I think that’s a losing argument: They’ve had the levers of power for two years, and I don’t think it’s irrelevant that in so many polls people complained that Obama bailed out the banks and passed a stimulus that didn’t work. Strangely, I watched Democrats including MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell try to blame the blowout on whiny progressives. O’Donnell asked Rachel Maddow why Wisconsin stalwart Sen. Russ Feingold lost, if the diagnosis of many lefties was that less wimpy Democrats might have done better in this sad midterm, given that he was arguably the least wimpy Democrat in this cycle.

My answer would have been: Russ Feingold and other progressives who lost weren’t really tested fairly. They weren’t able to run on the results of their own political priorities, like a robust stimulus that might have created more jobs, or more aggressive healthcare reform that might have solved more people’s real-life problems and reined in insurance company abuses before 2014. We never saw the practical or policy promise of the Democratic class of 2008, and the party will suffer for its inability to make a palpable difference for its constituencies despite the margins it had in the House and Senate

Robert Sheer: Payback at the Polls

Let’s not shoot the messenger. Yes, the tea party victors are a mixed bag espousing often contradictory and at times weird positions, the source of their funding is questionable and their proposed solutions are vague and at times downright nutty. But they represent the most significant political response to the economic pain that has traumatized swaths of the nation at a time when so-called progressives have been reduced to abject impotence by their deference to a Democratic president.

Barack Obama deserved the rebuke he received at the polls for a failed economic policy that consisted of throwing trillions at Wall Street but getting nothing in return. His amen chorus in the media is quick to blame everyone but the president for his sharp reversal of fortunes. But it is not the fault of tea party Republicans that they responded to the rage out there over lost jobs and homes while the president remained indifferent to the many who are suffering

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