Posted by: Chris | November 5, 2010

Midterm Analysis: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

The American people voted to fire the Obama Administration wholesale and hire the Republican party for two years to cut spending, rollback regulation, cut taxes and liberate America.  You know, Barack Obama is the worst thing to happen to the Democratic party in 60 years.  He has put a face on liberalism.  He gave it a voice.  He gave it a record and the American people said we don’t want it lock, stock, and barrel…

Obama’s problem is he misread his victory.  It was not a mandate for activist government; it was saying that George Bush was too close to Washington.  Republicans broke their promises…but then he did not govern as a new Democrat, as you said.  He misread it totally; he moved in the direction of social liberalism and the country said goodbye.

You might think this was excerpted from some segment of cable TV from the past couple days, but in fact Patrick J. Buchanan (“J” for jubilant, says John) declared it shortly after the 1994 midterms.  I simply replaced all instances of Bill Clinton with Barack Obama.  I don’t want this to seem like I am only picking on Republicans either.  Eleanor Clift said the exact same things Democratic spinsters are saying now (and she will certainly repeat herself when McLaughlin airs on Sunday): that the Republicans have been put in a “tentative” and probationary control of the Congress and they have an onus to produce results.

Indeed, I would highly recommend the Lure to check out the entire post-1994 McLaughlin Group.  It really highlights the vacuity of all the talking points that people recycle in trying to interpret the “voter’s will”   They all have their pre-existing frameworks into which they shoehorn all outcomes, and these always play into some sort of political football narrative of conflict and tactics.  Political science has proven time and again these things are irrelevant to actual voter preferences, but no matter.  So of course nearly everything the McLaughlins said, in all directions, did not come to pass (the worst prediction, I think, was Pat/John confidently declaring that Gingrich would not investigate Clinton over trumped-up charges of malfeasance).  But pundits, perpetually following ephemeral trends as precursors of the future to be, are easy targets.  I think this speaks to an even deeper problem with our democracy: the fundamental irrationality of the American electorate themselves.   They want to cut taxes and plug the deficit, rollback spending but retain (and even expand) entitlements.  They have unreasonably high expectations of government but simultaneously distrust the nebulous “establishment.”   They want people to get things done, but oust anyone outwardly competent or pragmatic.  And when these incompatible preference sets are not met, they blame the system or the people they push through it without examining their own beliefs.

While we are going through the McLaughlin Group archives: the group completely misguesses Clinton’s VP pick and this happens.  For real.  Also, Eleanor remains incomprehensible (did anyone get her Woody Allen reference) and John is still utterly uninformed (he insists, against all evidence, that a simple majority can override a veto). 

Oh and some more great predictions: Pat says Janet Reno is in trouble (she ends up being the only Cabinet member to serve 8 years) and Clinton will get a primary challenger, Eleanor says John Dingell is doomed (he lives on to organize much of the 2008-2010 legislative agenda), similarly Jack Germond dismisses Rudy Guliani and Dick Cheney’s political futures, and Mort Kondrake forsees a permanent Republican majority.



  1. Those are all quite good finds. Falcon takes the bait.

  2. hey captainfalcon, what happened to those McLaughlin group hats that you ordered?

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