Friday, January 22, 2010

Misreading the country

The narrative I keep seeing in conservative (and some progressive) circles is that the reason the Democrats lost Massachusetts is because they misread (and continue to misread) Obama's election as a sign that the country had moved significantly left when in fact the voters wanted something more centrist and non-partisan.

I don't buy it. Not that the country didn't really move left; that seems reasonable. Obama ran a campaign about how there were "no more red or blue states, just red, white, and blue states" and how he was going to start a new era of bipartisanship and openness in Washington. Then he got into office and immediately started a behind-closed-doors grab-bag of political favors thinly disguised as a stimulus package followed by a "health care plan" that taxes high end private insurance (except for Union members and citizens of Nebraska) in order to extend government healthcare to a bunch of people (who can keep their current healthcare, unless their employer decides to drop it, which Obama can't help, just because the CBO says it will happen if this passes).

Obama doesn't seem like an idiot, and I just can't accept that someone who grew up in the Chicago machine is "misreading" the results of his election on a platform of bipartisanship and openness as really indicating the public wanted machine politics and backroom deals for favored liberal constituents. It seems much more likely that Obama is well aware of what the public wants (which is, after all, why he campaigned on it), but is governing the Chicago Way because it's what he grew up with and he hopes to cultivate enough special interests to get himself re-elected.

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