Friday, April 9, 2010

The Coming Democratic Wipeout?

It's bad news, but hardly surprising: The Democrats could lose 50 or more seats this fall.

This is April, and a lot can happen between now and then. And the polling that went into this particular analyst's first take on the elections is biased toward the Republicans. Even he says that the "50-seat" loss would wind up being more like 15 or 20 seats. Or it could be 60 or 70. My own guess is at the low end of the range. Still, the analyst in question, Nate Silver, is one of the best in the business, so his view deserves attention.

Why am I not surprised? For starters, the party in power usually loses some seats in the mid-term elections after a presidential victory. And the economy, while marginally appearing to be improving, is still rotten. But there is another problem: The Democratic Party lost six critical months by dithering on health care legislation that it could have passed last fall. For that, the blame goes mainly to President Obama, who is the leader of his party. It also goes to congressional Democrats, who never met an idea they could stand up for.

There is some poetic justice in this, just as there was poetic justice in Kerry's 2004 loss to George W. Bush. When the going got tough, the tough went windsurfing, and the rest is history. I visited Hood River, Oregon last week and am as big a fan as anyone, but it was not the place for John Kerry to hide out while the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked his war record. And Obama & Co. had no business kowtowing to the corporate funded Tea Party movement while loading up their health care legislation with the usual corrupt side deals.

Politics, like so many other things, is often a matter of balance and timing. Or, as the classic National Lampoon Radio Dinner comedy recording put it: "Know what to kiss -- and when." When it came to health care, the Democrats had solid majority backing from the public, and they frittered it away. Whatever their losses this fall, I hope they will file their complaints in the right place: in front of the nearest mirror.

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