A much subdued President Obama admitted yesterday that he took a “shellacking” in the midterm elections. Despite that meek concession, he doesn’t appear to have gotten the order voters sent: Cease and desist. The Obama agenda has become a zombie, dead but continuing to walk among us.
“We were in such a hurry to get things done,” he said defensively. “We didn’t change how things were done.” The president apparently believes the American people were objecting to the process that created current troubles and not the product. He seems to think that had the government takeover of health care been done in a statelier manner, it would have been OK. Perhaps if his failed “stimulus” program and bloated budget deficits had been explained better, the American people would have given them a stamp of approval.
To the contrary, voters fundamentally rejected Mr. Obama’s preference for government action as the solution to all of life’s problems. The president pledged that he would find ways to be more effective in his job, but what the voters really want is for him to rethink his job description.
A prevalent story line being peddled by Democrats is that the election sent a mixed message, that the mammoth Republican win in the House was somehow balanced out by the “failure” to gain control of the Senate. This false dichotomy was the springboard for many analyses that concluded that what the American people wanted most was compromise while generally staying the course - in other words, Obama lite.
Republicans took at least six Senate seats and were close to nine, which is twice the average turnover in an off-year election. That’s hardly a “failure.” In the House, Republicans took the most midterm seats from the ruling party in any election since 1938. In the 1994 Republican landslide, the GOP took 52 seats; on Tuesday, the party netted at least 60. Add to that nine GOP governorships, hundreds of seats gained in state legislatures, and the implications of the election are not mixed at all.
The message to liberal ideologues in power in Washington is to stop what they’re doing immediately. Their hard-left policies have created a sense of uncertainty and foreboding in America that challenges the fundamentals that keep it strong. It’s no accident that the productive middle class has turned hardest against the Obama agenda. This group has contributed the most to building this country and has the most to lose.
Mr. Obama spoke much of bipartisanship in the 2008 campaign but avoided any hint of it after he took office. Now he has had bipartisanship thrust upon him, and it remains to be seen if he can match his rhetoric with reality. If the O Force’s version of bipartisan cooperation is to pursue the same old failed policies, Mr. Obama will face a much more personal shellacking in 2012.