The WSJ editorial board offers up a warning for President Obama: Don’t move far to the left and make the mistake Clinton did! Don’t let Pelosi run the show, or you’ll pay the price in 2010 with a severely weakened hand.
Hate to say it, but we think this is just wishful thinking. The parallels just aren’t there. Here are some differences, in no particular order.
- Clinton was punished for raising taxes, whereas Obama is promising a free lunch: lower net taxes AND more money flowing forth from Washington. As much as we might freak out about the debt and the possibility of hyperinflation and all that stuff, that doesn’t motivate voters. Maybe once the shit hits the fan Americans might care, but not now.
- Obama has a mandate to “fix” the economy. Americans hate the big businesses which they regard as having screwed everything up. Everyone expected Obama to be an activist President — that’s why he was elected. McCain was expected to have been just the status quo.
- The GOP doesn’t have a Newt Gingrich. There’s nobody on the right who has the charisma and intellectual vigor to lead a counter-movement. John Boehner? Ha.
- There’s no more TV Guide. The Contract With America was launched with a huge ad-buy in the TV Guide. There’s no silver-bullet media platform to get a message like that across these days. It’s become way too fragmented. Eventually, the Republicans will master new media and grass roots organisation the way Obama did in 2008, but it will take a while. In the absence of that, scaling a national platform is hard when there’s no natoinal election.
- Obama is insanely popular in a way that Bill Clinton never was. Sure, his approval ratings can’t stay in the high 70s forever, but remember that Bill Clinton didn’t even win a majority of the popular vote when he was elected.
- The issues won’t favour Republicans for a while. Guns, abortion, school prayer, pornography on TV, capital gains taxes, the death tax… who cares? People just want jobs.
- The public sector is much bigger than it used to be, and public sector employees don’t vote to shrink the public sector, otherwise they’d be suicidal.
At best, we think the Journal is engaging in wishful thinking, but beyond that it’s also just kind of disingenuous. In 2000, were they running editorials warnings Bush not to give into the Republican congress and to make compromises with the Dems? We don’t think so. And if Washington were dominated by Republicans and supply-siders today, they wouldn’t be so bullish on bipartisanship.