No Confidence

Gary Varvel

A few sensible post-election comments from liberals, no less.
Evan Bayh:

…recurring patterns of history, broad economic forces and the laws of politics don’t entirely account for the Democrats’ predicament. To a degree we are authors of our own misfortune, and we must chart a better path forward.

It is clear that Democrats over-interpreted our mandate. Talk of a “political realignment” and a “new progressive era” proved wishful thinking. Exit polls in 2008 showed that 22 percent of voters identified themselves as liberals, 32 percent as conservatives and 44 percent as moderates. An electorate that is 76 percent moderate to conservative was not crying out for a move to the left.

We also overreached by focusing on health care rather than job creation during a severe recession. It was a noble aspiration, but $1 trillion in new spending and a major entitlement expansion are best attempted when the Treasury is flush and the economy strong, hardly our situation today.

And we were too deferential to our most zealous supporters. During election season, Congress sought to placate those on the extreme left and motivate the base — but that meant that our final efforts before the election focused on trying to allow gays in the military, change our immigration system and repeal the George W. Bush-era tax cuts. These are legitimate issues but unlikely to resonate with moderate swing voters in a season of economic discontent…

Richard Cohen:

Elections are about many things: local candidates, the economy, the national picture and, of course, that indefinable something we call the zeitgeist — a Teutonic shrug of the shoulders meaning who the hell knows. But this election, while about all those things and more, was also about the commanding loss of public approval, even respect, accorded Barack Obama…

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