Monday, January 18, 2010


O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart! 5
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman, foreseeing the health-care debacle of 2010.

So Massachusetts just said "No We Can't" to health care reform.

Teddy Kennedy's seat just went Republican.

Democrats got a deserved kick in the rear-end for taking "Ted Kennedy's seat" for granted.

Senator-elect Scott Brown smiling at his Earthquake.

The impact this made can be measured by the ruckus coming from the Democratic Party. So far my favorite quote from the Massachusetts earthquake is the following, quoted at CNN:

[Rep. Anthony] Weiner ridiculed House Democratic leaders for holding a meeting to brief House Democrats on negotiations with the White House on a health care bill, telling reporters, "They're talking as if, 'What our deal is, what our negotiators are at the White House' -- yeah, and then the last line is, 'Pigs fly out of my ass' ... it's just, we've got to recognize we are in an entirely different scenario."

And this unexpected tribute to George Bush from Howard Dean (remember the "Scream?"):
I also think that we're going to have to not have a circular firing squad. The message that I think, the anecdote I give is that we have to be tougher. The Democrats haven't been tough enough. George Bush would have had the health care bill done a long time ago. It would have gone through reconciliation and been what we wanted.

Howard Dean, wishing Obama was tough, like George Bush.

There seems to be a consensus among those on the left-wing that Obama was not tough enough. For a sample of left-wing anger with Obama and Martha Coakley (the Democratic candidate who lost "Ted Kennedy's seat"), read columnists at the Huffington Post, like Drew Westen and Peter Daou.

The problem is, apparently, that the Obama administration was not savagely left-wing enough. Had they been more partisan, this wouldn't have happened.

Bloggers wish Obama were more like his buddy William Ayers.

Interesting perspective. The argument is hard to reconcile with the terms of the election: Obama ran as the "anti-Bush," the erudite, polished reconciler. What, did people think he could suddenly turn into James Carville?

The argument is also hard to reconcile with the purely party-line vote on health-care in both the House and Senate. The argument seems to be that it is not enough to leave all the Republicans behind, Obama should have pushed a bill that would have choked even moderate Democrats. That would have won over America and avoided Scott Brown.

This all sounded eerily like the advice Rehoboam took after King Solomon died. When Israel gathered at Shechem to complain about the taxes and forced labor Solomon had imposed, Rehoboam's response was "my father ruled you with whips, I will rule you with scorpions." That didn't go over so well: civil war ensued, and Rehoboam wound up ruling over 2 tribes, while 10 tribes left him.

You could look it up (1 Kings 12).

Rehoboam, trying to puzzle out what to do after Scott Brown.

These are interesting times. It fascinates me that a party with a 59-41 majority in the Senate is on the defensive. It fascinates me that left-wing Democrats are wishing Obama were more like George Bush. But there you have it.

Maybe Obama needs a cowboy hat.

1 comment:

  1. The recent election results have been characterized by both the left and right as a litmus test for all things Obama, most notably healthcare. By focusing on a singular, topical issue to explain recent events we have missed a larger trend representing the most influential and deciding vote. The recent results represent a backlash against incumbent parties. The backlash began with Bush and the Republicans in 2008 and now its the Dems turn. It wasn't Health Care in Mass. that decided the election for instance, they voted for universal coverage years ago, which has been implemented and is generally well received. Rather the swing vote chose to give the otherside a try. The NJ gubenatorial race could be characterized the same way. Similar in many ways, both states have very high tax burdens and were lead by an entrenched Dem machine for many years, so then why now? Yes Kennedy passed, but the machine remains and Mass would never be confused with Texas. How does that explain NJ? Since the redrawing of voting districts predicting who would win was fairly predictable. When they weren't we heard about the swing vote, that unpredictable group that now has so much power. In the last two elections and in the years to come our country will increasingly be shaped by this wavering group of unpredictable voters. Our younger generations, both Gen Y and Boomlets(largest population cohort in the country) hold the key. The product of Boomers and the Me Generation, Boomlets seem destined to echo the character of their parents in that they will wield the power to change the direction of our country due to their sheer numbers. What separates them are their unique blend of characteristics. They ascended into adulthood in a hyperactive society. An environment, unlike their predecessors, they have known all their life. They demand performance and feedback immediately and when unsatisfied move on and quickly. They, unlike those before, will not grow out of this and slow down. This is the standard and environment we have constructed for them.They are still out numbered and don't vote as much as the generations before them, but their ambivalence to party and large numbers make them the target of every political strategist. The correlation between winning elections and connecting online and with the young voters couldn't be higher. They have already become the deciding factor and their relevance in elections will only increase in the years to come. Strap in this is just the beginning.