Oh my, this old quote keeps rearing its ugly head: "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory"...it's almost a mantra for Democrats. And now, the gnashing of teeth and wailing by people "shocked" that Scott Brown beat Martha Coakley, and coming up with every possible scenario about why the election went the way it did. One of the most puzzling blame games is pointing the finger at progressives for party infighting and bickering...and this by an Obama supporter: "...I blame it on liberals bashing Obama and the Dems constantly. Nice going guys. When will we ever learn? When you WIN you don't criticize your leader..." Huh? Hard to even deconstruct that or figure out how it even applies to Massachusetts. Are we all just supposed to march in step once the revered leader is elected? In fact, if Obama had listened to progressives, and not to the voices in his head imploring him to kowtow to the 'right', to Wall Street, to big PhARMA, to Tim Geithner & Larry Summers, for a start, perhaps people wouldn't be so pissed off because they didn't get the ballsy change they voted for...and that includes the much heralded Independents and Decline to State(ers) (me) who voted for Obama.
Here's the thing: Independents and Decline to State voters knew exactly what they were voting for when they voted for Obama...for the carrot that he dangled, and never refuted, that promised CHANGE - change in the way politics is done in Washington. We understood what that 'change' meant, or thought we did. It meant grappling with the Bush legacy that he dumped on us, and hey - to take a page from the Bush playbook - take the bull by the horns and get stuff DONE. But, you know what? Come to think of it, the only change I wanted were policy changes...I'm now down with the way Bush rammed his agenda through Congress. Since Obama has kept many of Bushes policies in place, why can't he just govern like him - except for progressive policy change? Once again, I refer to my post that I wrote 55 days into the administration: Note to Obama: Govern Like You're a One Term President THAT's what people are angry about, not that they want MORE compromise with a move to the center. They want real, visceral change…one that you can almost hold in your hand and say, “See this? Last year, people in the military couldn’t be their honest selves. Now, after the CHANGE, people can be their honest selves out in the open and not get discharged.” Or, “On this hand, last year, banks wouldn’t give people the time of day. This year’s CHANGE, banks are helping people out with their mortgages, giving small business loans, waiving unfair banking fees, and more people are actually banking again.” And one more. Scene One. People yelling happily in the street: “I’ve got a JOB!” That would be real change.
Anyway, so, along comes a good looking guy, in the now famous truck, glad-handing and gettin' down with the people. Hmmmm, sounds like a winning formula...kind of like Sarah Palin...a good looking dame who connected with the people. First thing, if either of these folks had looked like Quasimodo, they wouldn't be where they are today. Oh come on, yes, it's superficial, but it's true. And the folksy approach obviously connects with voters who feel so disenfranchised that they hunger for a little attention from someone, anyone that they think might listen to their woes. What is interesting about this strategy is that it is now the Republicans who have co-opted the populist approach, and it’s the Democrats who are now looked at as the elite, friends of bankers and Wall Street (thank you, Obama) that used to be symbolized by the Republicans. Oh my. Things have indeed changed…just not the way we wanted.
Last bit: I hope Obama invites Scott Brown over for beer and maybe a game of basketball. Make friends with him. Invite the family too and have Ayala sing for the girls. Diffuse the potential animus. “Obama, pal around with Scott. Go for a ride in the truck, loosen up. That's the kind of bipartisanship we Independents will understand.” And so will the PR machine.