How Much Trouble are the Democrats In?

Classmate, pal and fellow right-leaning ex-journalist Van Wallach at Kesher Talk thinks journalists are overplaying the Democratic debacle story line in Massachusetts:

Don’t buy into the hype about terrible trouble for the Democrats. Some trouble, maybe. The mainstream media (MSM) is working overtime to rip into Obama like a pack of famished guppies. They want to see him dunked in the political pool and come out gasping and choking — a little. Why? Because this creates a dramatic narrative, which journalists crave like a crack high. A boring, incrementally mediocre administration won’t satisfy them. After the drama of his rise to power, Obama has to keep the drama and surprises coming. Scott Brown and the Fabulous 41 Block of the GOP serves both the MSM and the Obama camp.

Van also thinks the MSM is (are?) setting up a Comeback Kid narrative, which may well be the case.  But I have a slightly different take.  (Yes, in time-honored bloggish fashion, I’ve quoted Van as an excuse for quoting myself.)

Loyal A.T.I.N. readers (hi Sweetie!) will flash back to my Instalanche post the week before the Inauguration, when I started a “Honeymoon-Over Watch”:

[J]ournalists no longer have to worry that Obama might lose the election. Now the natural competitiveness of the news media will begin to overwhelm partisanship, at least until the 2012 race heats up. The honeymoon isn’t over yet, and it certainly won’t end before the Inaugural. But starting next Tuesday (ok maybe Wednesday), when President Obama doesn’t bring the troops home, doesn’t close Guantanamo, doesn’t end the recession, doesn’t deliver national health insurance, doesn’t roll back global warming and make the oceans recede — or at least doesn’t do any of these things as fast as the Left would like — then things like the peccadillos of Tim Geithner will start to get more coverage.

(Emphasis added, to highlight the fact that one year in, Obama is five for five on the doesn’ts.)

Van and I are describing two sides of the same coin — his journalistic need for a dramatic narrative provides fuel for the journalistic competitiveness I described. Where I part company with Van is on the degree of trouble facing the Democrats.  If a Republican can handily win a statewide election in (“Don’t blame me, I’m from”) Massachusetts, something significant is afoot.

I hasten to add that it is possible, of course, to overstate the matter, as one Republican Party spinmeister did by saying “no Democrat is safe.”  Plenty of Democrats are safe.  But unless the Obama administration starts tacking right, some who think they are safe are likely to be voted out in November.  And I haven’t seen any sign in Obama of the kind of Clintonian centrist pragmatism that would enable him to become a Comeback Kid.

5 thoughts on “How Much Trouble are the Democrats In?

  1. The only sign of centrist pragmatism Obama displayed was when he was campaigning for president. And he knows how to campaign, so he can "fake it" again. But is he a centrist? Can he get there without a map? No. He's so far to the left, he's out where the buses don't run.

    Van Wallach has a point in that at least some influential members of the media are drama junkies, but I think it's a bit much to suggest that they're being manipulative. And I haven't seen the MSM ripping into Obama. Admitting that some of the criticism is well-founded, yes, but not attacks like the kind we've seen on Bush, Cheny and Palin.

  2. When the MSM can control the unemployment rate (and the anxiety people feel as jobs fail to materialize) while the national debt skyrockets then Van Wallach's "hype theory" will make any rational sense. The Dem's are in trouble for REAL reasons and not just hype.

  3. Something else to keep in mind (that I meant to post earlier but forgot), is that Clinton had centrists and even center-right staffers, such as Dick Morris, for input. Obama's cabinet runs from far-Left to Left-wing-extremists. He has no input for center or center-right opinions, much less the far-right. The people who talk to him won't talk to Republicans or conservatives, and aren't interested in listening to them either. What is he going to do, get a subscription to National Review? I guess he could start by reading your blog, Kirk. (Ha! Beat you to the shameless plug!)

    By the way, that appears to be a Ducati 916 or 996 in vulcanhammer's avatar. Great bike, but a bit too intense (fast) for me. I'll stick with my mid-size Yamaha until I can afford a Moto Guzzi again.

    And now, back to the politics…

  4. I think it's clear that the Democrats do need to begin to move back to the center. However, I think that the real danger here is for the GOP: in becoming too overconfident about the next election. The fact is, Obama has already begun to put on his "Conservative mask" for the compaign. (Remember who sounded more conservative for most of the last Presidential election?) He's a great campaigner, and he's already kicked into campaign mode. If the GOP lets their guard down, assuming that a 2010 landslide is inevitable, things could go poorly for them.

  5. Chris, I agree that Obama doesn't have much ideological diversity — the exception being that he kept Bush's Defense Secretary, for which I'm very glad. And that's a good idea about having Obama read my blog– I'll send him a link.

    Sober, he's a great campaigner, but he's not on the ticket. His appeal was so personal and charismatic, I'm not sure he can do much in support of other Democrats.

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