In his column this morning George Will compiles a list of those the administration has blamed for the trials that face us:
Today’s president from Illinois, a chronic campaigner and incontinent complainer who is uninhibited by considerations of presidential dignity, has blamed his difficulties on:
George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the Supreme Court, a Cincinnati congressman (John Boehner), Karl Rove, Americans for Prosperity and other “groups with harmless-sounding names” (Hillary Clinton’s “vast right-wing conspiracy” redux), “shadowy third-party groups” (they are as shadowy as steam calliopes), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and, finally, the American people. They have deeply disappointed him by being impervious to “facts and science and argument.”
He then lurches uncontrollably into what I think is the real unifying message behind the midterm elections if there is one:
Recently, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter decided, as the president has decided, that what liberals need is not better ideas but better marketing of the ones they have: “It’s a sign of how poorly liberals market themselves and their ideas that the word ‘liberal’ is still in disrepute despite the election of the most genuinely liberal president that the political culture of this country will probably allow.”
“Despite”? In 2008, Democrats ran as Not George Bush. In 2010, they ran as Democrats. Hence, inescapably, as liberals, or at least as obedient to liberal leaders. Hence Democrats’ difficulties.
In 2008 Democrats ran as not only Not George Bush but as Not Republicans. In 2010 Republicans ran as Not Democrats. We have had two consecutive elections with a unifying theme: we want something else!
The perverse result of the elections is that each side of the aisle will be more ideologically aligned than it was before the election. Moderate Democrats lost their re-election bids to be replaced by more conservative Republicans. Progressive Democrats won their re-election bids. The net effective is that the Democratic Congressional delegation leans farther to the left, the Republican farther to the right, and moderates are becoming increasingly scarce.
That doesn’t sound particularly promising for a meeting of minds between partisans in the Congress, nor does it sound like Americans are going to get the change they long for. However, they are likely to get the change they voted for and get it good and hard.