Sunday, May 2, 2010

You Can't Sell The Sizzle If They Don't Like The Steak

The Democrats have unveiled their 2010 midterm campaign slogan, and it is "The Results Party". This is fair enough - they have succeeded in passing the stimulus bill, TARP, healthcare reform, and a number of other items that were on their agenda, so there's no denying they've gotten results. There's just one teensy little problem - the public doesn't like those results. The bank bailouts were wildly unpopular. So is health care reform, despite Obama's pre-vote promises to Democrats that once it passed widespread opposition to it would subside. Dickerson acknowledges this in his piece, but then suggests that Obama may be able to overcome the massive unpopularity of Congress by returning to the broad, idealistic themes that got him elected in 2008. Count me extremely skeptical. Empty post-partisan rhetoric is a well that starts to run dry almost as the cleanup for the post-election victory party starts, because it's easy to campaign as a post-partisan politician, but impossible to govern as one - as soon as the rubber meets the road, you start having to make controversial decisions, and in doing so start alienating voters and antagonizing ideological opponents. If what you're doing rubs voters the wrong way, your opponents can and will oppose it. In this case, the Republicans very possibly are guilty of politically motivated obstructionism for maintaining near unanimous opposition to most of Obama's agenda, but that's irrelevant. It's unlikely to hurt their stock much given that said agenda is broadly unpopular, and its signature accomplishment, Obamacare, was rammed through on a narrow partisan vote to boot. Furthermore, while the voters may give Obama somewhat higher marks than they give Congress, with a sub-50% approval rating himself he's not exactly in a position to be an effective pitchman. Poll after poll shows that independents turning against Obama and the Democrats, and without those voters, it's pretty tough to maintain a governing majority. All the soaring oratory in the world won't change that.

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