This time around President Barack Obama did not call it a shellacking. He did not need to. The Republicans dealt a serious, rear politically fatal, blow to a flaccid, impotent rudderless Democratic Party in a contest with an energized, far better organized, a fire-in-the-belly opponent. The result of the recent mid-term elections must still be ringing in the president's ample ears. The narrative that most of the Republican victories were in arguably red states in the South and Plains areas that the Democrats would not have won anyway brings very little consolation to a party that was manhandled, pummeled, slapped and kicked like the fate of a Black man wondering into a jacked-up, alcohol-infused Ku Klux Klan barbeque party shouting "Black Power!"
For me, the mid-term elections and the outcome is not so much about the GOP's new-found campaign powers or electoral skills. No, it's about a political party that ran away from itself, chased its tail, and bounced its head against the wall in a dizzying spell of ineptitude, ungratefulness, stupidity, and outright bumbling. It was an epic stage performance of Democratic Comedy Of Errors -- with clowns and circus performers stealing the headlines.
If only this was comedy and we, the people, were indulging observers eager for a few laughs. Alas, this was not the case as one bumbling, idiotic escapade that passed for political campaigning unfolded one after another.
There was one political comic in Kansas who ran against an entrenched Republican incumbent as an independent. This guy could not answer one simple question -- who will you caucus with in the Senate with if elected? Hear him: Well, I'll wait until I get there and whoever is doing right by Kansas, I'll caucus with them." Aha! Democrats said, we don't know where he stands, we'll just stay home. Not so fast! Said Independents. So you mean you're going to work with Republicans? Then I guess we'd better not vote. O-ho! Said the Republicans, you want to play with the Democrats"we can't trust you! We'll come out in droves and vote for our candidate --we know where he stands.
Then there's another female candidate, Gosh! Can't even remember her name! Oh! Alison Lundergan Grimes. That's right, she ran in Kentucky against soon-to-be Majority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of "I'll make it my life's work to make Obama a one-term president" fame. She was so spineless, gutless and lacking any integrity whatsoever that even with basic, common decency shoved in, would not and did not say that she voted for President Obama in the last presidential election. What a political clown! She lost of course -- big time. Voters are not fools.
Not to be outdone was Louisiana's good Senator Mary Landrieu who "split with the party" on the Keystone Pipeline. Her political antics and contortions made the pipeline look like Pythagoras's Theorem. She sought to put distance between herself and President Obama in a state where she MUST have won the Black vote to beat back the Republican challenger. The end result? Blacks stayed home and she now faces a run-off in December that she will most likely lose.
Who's on first?
Quite frankly, if Democrats are so spineless, cowardly and ashamed of their own president and his accomplishments then they will lose the presidency in 2016. That and the fact that if they are to be competitive in elections for both the House and the Senate two years from now they must field a far better crop of candidates than this bloviated, pompous and insipid group that contested and lost the recent mid-term elections.
Democrats refused to run on serious issues and started to behave like Republicans in 2012. Off message and flapping from issue to issue, Democrats forgot that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now a major success and could have pointed to one of the reddest of states, Arkansas, as an example. They could have battered the Republicans on the minimum wage issue that would have galvanized working people, immigrants, and other minority voters. They could have pointed to the failure of immigration and shown photos of armed border guards herding little children and locking them up in cells akin to dog kennels in a pound. And they could have used the successes of the fight against Ebola at home to beat back Republican fear mongering and behaved like the adult in the room.
Instead they bought into the Republican one-campaign issue of "Bad Obama, Get Obama" and decided to run from the president the way Al Gore ran from Bill Clinton and lost to George W. Bush. Democrats abandoned their core message and replaced it with reactive, cowardly knee-jerk sand-dancing, and infantile political posturing that is more the domain of circus clowns and buffoons than mature politicians.
When Republicans romped home to an overwhelming midterm victory in 2010, President Obama decided that for better or worse he would accept the outcome as an indictment of his stewardship. Accordingly, he reached out to Republican leaders, extending the political olive branch, as a manner of speaking. To placate the most rabid sections of the GOP he even adopted as his own the nominal goal of their economic agenda: deficit reduction. He even went further by setting aside progressive tax increases and immigration reform that angered liberals and progressive Democrats already seething over his capitulation to Republicans by his failure to close Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba.
Of course, we all know where that brief feel good outreach went as Republicans in Congress, the same people that now control two of the three centers of power, stuck it to the president each and every way. In hindsight therefore, that decision was an unmitigated disaster. For the obstructionist Republicans and their Tea Party instigators that presented a golden opportunity to push an agenda of premature austerity that stifled and choked both short and long term economic recovery and then blame the negative fall out on the president.
The Democratic president's "olive branch" decision was basically rebuffed by a jacked-up Republican establishment whose sole reason for existence was to bring him down. In this highly charged political chess game Republicans played legislative brinksmanship and flirted with the temptation of shutting down the government unless President Obama agreed to their more ultra-conservative outrageous demands. Like a bunch of squabbling, spoiled brats Republican leaders from Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner on down berated the president at every turn using the most unflattering, borderline racist language imaginable.
Still, the issues and rationales that drove the president to try and work with Republicans in Congress may have been justified back in 2012. Moreover, it was his first term in office and the historic win by the GOP may have been interpreted by the president, and with good reason, that this was in fact the voice, if not the wishes, of the American people.
That's not so today. And President Obama and Democrats in the Congress had six years to analyze, size up and observe the way that Republicans were going. No rational, sane or objective look at the Republican Party and its bastard spawn, the Tea Party, can ever conclude that Republicans are going to make good faith overtures and have any interest in working with President Obama and the Democrats. Republicans have blocked the president's nominees in unprecedented numbers. They have tried to overturn, gut, destroy and kill the Affordable Care Act over 50 times and counting.
But Democrats never learn. It's a liberal behaviorist thing -- believe the best in the face of conclusive opposite facts; the if-I-think-its-going-to-work-it-will syndrome as they forget that it was this kind of insane good faith, koombiah politics that gave Republicans the kind of ammunition to dally with sabotaging the government and economy in July 2011.