Americans can give thanks in this Christmas season for an end to the reckless and destructive 111th Congress. This is the Congress that passed Obamacare, against the wishes of a substantial majority of the public, on Christmas Eve of last year. In the dead of night, Democratic lawmakers stuffed the monstrous 2,700-page bill with special-interest goodies and political payoffs like the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase.” As we have learned since, most members were still ignorant of the bill’s contents three months later, when it gained final passage in the House. No surprise that its immediate results — both intended and unintended — have been almost uniformly bad.
Similarly, odds are that not one member of the 111th Congress actually read the so-called “cap-and-trade” bill before it passed the House in June 2009. Even a speed-reader could not have digested House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman’s last-second, 309-page amendment, which read as clear as mud: “Page 14, strike lines 1 through 3 and insert the following. …” It was filed after 1:30 a.m. just before the vote on final passage. There is also serious doubt that any member of Congress understood the 2,000-page financial reform bill that Congress passed this summer. One of its two main sponsors, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., remarked, “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time. …”
And Democrats wonder why Gallup found this Congress to be the least popular in the history of its polls?
After suffering a comprehensive and humiliating defeat in the midterm election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the unfrocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led lame-duck congressional Democrats on a last-minute banzai charge for more federal spending, debt, earmarks, taxes and regulations.
It is especially appalling that this lame-duck session succeeded in burdening the armed forces with sexual deviance, adding $1.4 billion of unnecessary food safety regulation, and endorsing an extremely problematic arms control treaty, all on the basis of fractures in nominally Republican ranks, despite the fact that, as the Examiner observes:
Americans [had] already rendered a verdict on such productivity and elected a new Congress with orders to clean up the mess in Washington.
Peter Robinson opines that Mitch McConnell is going to calling the shots much of the time anyway.
Over the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve noticed that Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has sounded a lot chirpier–and, frankly, a lot more aggressive–than a man ought to sound when he’s just drawn a bad hand. Why? Well, after looking over a few statistics, I think I know. Sen. McConnell doesn’t believe he’s drawn a bad hand at all. Just take a look a this:
Twenty-three Democratic senators must face re-election in two years (actually, 21 Democrats plus Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both Independents who caucus with the Democrats).
* Of those 23, five represent states that John McCain carried in 2008 and George W. Bush carried in 2004. To wit: Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia (although just elected this year, Manchin is merely filling out the unexpired term of the late Sen. Byrd).
* Four more Democratic senators facing re-election come from states that McCain lost in 2008–but that Bush carried four years earlier. Namely: Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Jim Webb of Virginia.
Which means that although he’ll have only 46 votes in the new Congress to call his own, Mitch McConnell will find that no fewer than nine Democrats are willing–perhaps even eager–to work with him.
Joel Kotkin argues that old-style New Deal liberalism aspired to improve general prosperity and new Obama-style liberalism proposes to facilitate the ability of the New Class intelligentsia to tell everybody else what to do. The New Deal erected massive federal dams and contemporary liberalism bans Happy Meals. The appeal of the petty dictatorship of the self righteous is inevitably restricted to the urban enclaves where the elites themselves live and to college communities full of brainwashed undergraduates.
Liberalism once embraced the mission of fostering upward mobility and a stronger economy. But liberalismâ€™s appeal has diminished, particularly among middle-class voters, as it has become increasingly control-oriented and economically cumbersome.
Today, according to most recent polling, no more than one in five voters call themselves liberal. …
Modern-day liberalism… is often ambivalent about expanding the economy â€” preferring a mix of redistribution with redirection along green lines. Its base of political shock troops, public-employee unions, appears only tangentially interested in the health of the overall economy.
In the short run, the diminishment of middle-of-the-road Democrats at the state and national level will probably only worsen these tendencies, leaving a rump party tied to the coastal regions, big cities and college towns. There, many voters are dependents of government, subsidized students or public employees, or wealthy creative people, college professors and business service providers. …
The failure of Obama-style liberalism has less to do with government activism than with how the administration defined its activism. Rather than deal with basic concerns, it appeared to endorse the notion of bringing the federal government into aspects of life â€” from health care to zoning â€” traditionally controlled at the local level.
This approach is unpopular even among â€œmillennials,â€ who, with minorities, represent the best hope for the Democratic left. As the generational chroniclers Morley Winograd and Michael Hais point out, millennials favor government action â€” but generally at the local level, which is seen as more effective and collaborative. Top-down solutions from â€œexperts,â€ Winograd and Hais write in a forthcoming book, are as offensive to millennials as the rightâ€™s penchant for dictating lifestyles.
Often eager to micromanage peopleâ€™s lives, contemporary liberalism tends to obsess on the ephemeral while missing the substantial. Measures such as San Franciscoâ€™s recent ban on Happy Meals follow efforts to control the minutiae of daily life. This approach trivializes the serious things government should do to boost economic growth and opportunity.
Perhaps worst of all, the new liberals suffer from what British author Austin Williams has labeled a â€œpoverty of ambition.â€ FDR offered a New Deal for the middle class, President Harry S. Truman offered a Fair Deal and President John F. Kennedy pushed us to reach the moon.
In contrast, contemporary liberals seem more concerned about controlling soda consumption and choo-chooing back to 19th-century urbanism. This poverty of ambition hurts Democrats outside the urban centers. For example, when I met with mayors from small, traditionally Democratic cities in Kentucky and asked what the stimulus had done for them, almost uniformly they said it accomplished little or nothing. …
Of course, green, public-sector-dominated politics can work â€” as it has in fiscally challenged blue havens such as California and New York. But then, a net 3 million more people â€” many from the middle class â€” have left these two states in the past 10 years.
If this defines success, you have to wonder what constitutes failure.
OK, riddle fans, here’s a toughie: What’s the difference between California voters and the passengers on the Titanic?
The passengers on the Titanic didn’t vote to hit the iceberg.
Most Americans understand that California is sinking. What is almost incredible is that it has voted to sink.
On Election Day, 2010 Californians voted Democrats into every statewide position (one is still undecided). This is the party that singlehandedly has brought one of the world’s greatest economies to near ruin. There may well be historical parallels to what Californians did — but I cannot think of any.
A listener called my radio show two days after the elections to tell me that his business is booming — thanks to Californians. His occupation? He’s a real estate agent in Phoenix, Ariz.
Stunned by last week’s election results, liberal columnist Maureen Dowd turned today’s column over to her smarter brother Kevin:
As a semichastened Barack Obama appeared at the press conference following the election, he conjured up the image of the curtain opening in â€œThe Wizard of Oz,â€ revealing a little old man working the controls, not the great and powerful Oz.
The president had to wonder how this could happen in two short years. He must long for the days when the media routinely referred to him as â€œcerebral and brainyâ€ (savvy was never mentioned) and salivated over â€œMichelleâ€™s amazing arms.â€
The voters left no doubt about their feeling for his super-nanny state where the government controls all aspects of their lives and freedoms. Warning signs were up in the three elections held in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey and with the noisy birth of the Tea Party. But the president, swathed in the protective cocoon of adulation and affirmation from the media and his own sycophants, soldiered on in his determination to turn our country into just another member of the failed European union â€” France without the food.
No one should be surprised by this. The president is a devoted disciple of the teachings of Saul Alinsky and a true believer in a redistribution of wealth controlled by big government. We can see how well that is working in Greece, Portugal, Spain and France. Instead of focusing on jobs and turning the private sector loose to provide them, he insisted on giving the American people things they did not want: expensive health care, more regulation and higher taxes. He clumsily interjected himself on behalf of the mass-murdering Muslim Army major, the ground zero mosque, the civil trials of enemy combatants and the lawsuit against Arizona. His theme song could have been â€œWho are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?â€
On Nov. 2, voters across every spectrum loudly stated their preference for a return to American exceptionalism, self-reliance, limited government and personal freedoms. They delivered a message that they would demand that their representatives start reflecting their wishes. They showed their muscle to shocked elitists who had dismissed their dissent as ignorance, bigotry or racism.
Back at the end of October in 2008, Peggy Noonan hurriedly jumped on the express train to the Finland Station, endorsing Barack Obama in quite warm terms, and dismissing regrets or apologies by pointing to the mandate of heaven.
[L]et’s be frank. Something new is happening in America. It is the imminent arrival of a new liberal moment. History happens, it makes its turns, you hold on for dear life. Life moves.
Peggy is still holding on to history’s roller-coaster car for dear life but, happily, the turns of the track have brought Peggy (along with David Brooks and the rest of the establishment commentariat) back to the right side. This week, Peggy Noonan, rather than praising Barack Obama, was delivering the ultimate editorial coup de grace.
On Wednesday, President Obama gave a news conference to share his thoughts. Viewers would have found it disappointing if there had been any viewers. The president is speaking, in effect, to an empty room. From my notes five minutes in: “This wet blanket, this occupier of the least interesting corner of the faculty lounge, this joy-free zone, this inert gas.” By the end I was certain he will never produce a successful stimulus because he is a human depression.
Actually I thought the worst thing you can say about a president: He won’t even make a good former president.
His detachment is so great, it is even from himself. As he spoke, he seemed to be narrating from a remove. It was like hearing the audiobook of Volume I of his presidential memoirs. “Obama was frustrated. He honestly didn’t understand what the country was doing. It was as if they had compulsive hand-washing disorder. In ’08 they washed off Bush. Now they’re washing off Obama. There he is, swirling down the drain! It’s all too dramatic, too polar. The morning after the election it occurred to him: maybe he should take strong action. Maybe he should fire America! They did well in 2008, but since then they’ve been slipping. They weren’t giving him the followership he needed. But that wouldn’t work, they’d only complain. He had to keep his cool. His aides kept telling him, ‘Show humility.’ But they never told him what humility looked like. What was he supposed to do, burst into tears and say hit me? Not knowing how to feel humility or therefore show humility he decided to announce humility: He found the election ‘humbling,’ he said.”