Monday, November 8, 2010

Democrats after defeat

Benen and Drum are disgusted:
Honest to God, stuff like this just makes me want to scream. Why do Democrats panic so badly whenever they lose an election? Why run to the nearest reporter to spout idiocies about Obama not feeling middle class pain or not being an extrovert like Bill Clinton? Bill Clinton! For chrissake, I like and defend the guy, but he was an extrovert who felt people's pain and he lost 54 seats in the 1994 midterm. No one cared if he felt their pain. Likewise, no one cares if Obama feels their pain. They want jobs, not pursed lips and moist eyes.
Drum is right: the talking point about Clinton is really stupid. But my take on this is pretty different: I was just thinking that the circular firing squad isn't nearly as intense this time around as it has been in the past. I mean, the despair after 2004--in which Democrats lost a national election by all of three percentage points--was quite dispiriting and just unnecessary. But so far, all I've heard are the complaints of an outgoing conservative Democratic governor from Tennessee, a TNR columnist who always thinks the Democrats are too far to the left, and Alex Sink, who is most likely just looking for someone to blame after losing a high-profile election to an ex-con in Florida. If that's as bad as it gets, then I'm not that worried.

Also, on a tangentially related note, Yglesias is right about this:
It looks like Nancy Pelosi is going to stick around as Top Democrat in the House. This has led to a dumb media meme about her continued presence being a political millstone for the party moving forward. That’s dumb. People pushing that narrative should recall that when Pelosi first took over as minority leader the CW was that her ascension doomed the party to perpetual minority status. The fact of the matter is that congressional leaders just don’t play that kind of role. House leadership is very important to what actually happens in the House of Representatives and their political importance is strictly secondary to that.
Pelosi was never the problem. Every poll shows her as more personally popular than Boehner, but nobody ever suggested that Boehner's presence as leader would consign the Republicans to a minority status. People generally seem to have a vague dislike for congressional leaders because they have a dislike for Congress, largely because the economy is so poor. But outside of the far right, is there really an intense animosity to Pelosi? My impression is that few really know or care too much about her. And if that's the case, her legislative talents recommend her to stay at the top spot. On the other hand, there might be good reason for Senate Democrats to ask Harry Reid to step down and let Chuck Schumer have a shot at the leadership, on the basis that Schumer is more tenacious, has a more aggressive style that could rile up the base a bit more, and can communicate a lot better than Reid. But I've come to the conclusion that Reid has done about as well as can be expected under the circumstances, and I suspect that his come-from-behind victory for re-election has boosted his personal stock considerably. I bet he doesn't even draw a leadership challenge.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.