If, indeed, there was a GOP strategy in fully capturing Congress, it played out something like this: obstruct White House legislative initiatives, criticize the president for being ineffectual, and appeal to the baser sentiments of voters. The combination succeeded, with Obama’s approval ratings in the toilet and the New York Times wondering whether or not the president can still be relevant during the lame remainder of his tenure.
Newspapers report that voters are angry. But the accounts of precisely why are deferred to another day and perhaps different media.
If the anger is about the economy, one can ignore the better metrics on GDP and focus ire on stagnant wages and stubborn underemployment.
Yet, the irony is that Republicans have absolutely nothing serious to say about boosting employment and income for the Rest of Us. Indeed, their economic policies are the same as they’ve always been, with no record of achievement: reduce taxes, reduce regulations, reduce government.
The New York Times editors opined:
Campaigning on pure negativity isn’t surprising for a party that has governed that way since Mr. Obama was first sworn in. By creating an environment where every initiative is opposed and nothing gets done, Republicans helped engineer the president’s image as weak and ineffectual. Mitch McConnell, who will be the Senate’s new majority leader, vowed in 2009 to create “an inventory of losses” to damage Mr. Obama for precisely the results achieved on Tuesday.
We should not forgive Obama’s blunders, as the editors continue. Certainly playing golf while the rollout of his signature legislative achievement (the Affordable Care Act) coughed and sputtered provided the perfect photo opportunity for the feral naysayers. Other apparent missteps, from Ebola to ISIS, complete the portrait of a man disinterested or, worse, incompetent. The negative picture could not be redrawn by an eleventh-hour apologia from Nobel laureate Paul Krugman.
Actually, Democratic candidates across the nation urged their president to stay the hell away. Stick to raising money for the cause.
And what is that cause? I’m still searching futilely.
There was a time in our country’s history when a president spoke of a “square deal.” Another promised a “new deal.” Mr. Obama in his time of challenge chose to gently hover above the fray and delegate governance to loyal minions ill-equipped to tackle the nation’s ills.
The Rest of US continue to pay a heavy price for unsoiled presidential hands.
UPDATE (November 5, 2014):
All over the country yesterday voters approved liberal policies on economics and social issues — and inexplicably voted for Republicans. Something is not computing there. Perhaps the Democrats might want to inquire as to why the people don’t associate them with the liberal policies they prefer.