November 16, 2008

"5 Myths About an Election of Mythic Proportions."

WaPo's Chris Cillizza's list:
1. The Republican Party suffered a death blow....

2. A wave of black voters and young people was the key to Obama's victory.... Exit polling suggests that there was no statistically significant increase in voting among either group. ...

3. Now that they control the White House and Congress, Democrats will usher in a new progressive era. ... The fact that roughly a third of the Democratic House majority sits in seats with Republican underpinnings (at least at the presidential level) is almost certain to keep a liberal dream agenda from moving through Congress. The first rule of politics is survival, and if these new arrivals to Washington want to stick around, they are likely to build centrist voting records between now and 2010.

4. A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year....

5. McCain made a huge mistake in picking Sarah Palin.... For skittish conservatives looking for more evidence that McCain understood their needs and concerns, Palin did the trick. It's hard to imagine conservatives rallying to McCain -- even to the relatively limited extent that they did -- without Palin on the ticket. And without the base, McCain's loss could have been far worse.
Cillizza invites us to supply more myths. Here's one: Obama won because Americans were inspired by a new kind of politician with a message of hope and change. (I think that Obama won because: 1. he got out in front of Hillary in the caucus states, and 2. he was the Democratic Party candidate.)

And here's an additional question: What myths have been left untold? I'll supply one, something I thought people would say that I was waiting to debunk: Obama has a mandate.

77 comments:

ricpic said...

4. A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year...

Not a myth at all. An unapologetic conservative Republican would have swept the lying scumbag away.

downtownlad said...

But Ann thought Bush had a mandate in 2004, and she probably thought he had a mandate in 2000 as well.

Go figure.

If a 7 point victory for Obama, and an even bigger victory for the dems in the House (+20) and Senate (+7) is not a mandate, I don't know what is.

And some of the myths are silly. Yes - youth turnout didn't make a difference this election. But the youth vote did. The youth vote went 2 -1 for Obama, and made up a huge percentage of his electoral win. And it made the key difference in key states He won Indiana and North Carolina solely because of the youth vote.

Paul Zrimsek said...

It's not false to say Obama has a mandate, only meaningless. In a democracy, what counts is the next election, not the last one. If the people like what Obama does, he'll win re-election whether he had a mandate to do it or not; if we don't, a mandate won't save him. Getting elected is all the mandate anyone ever needs.

Ann Althouse said...

"But Ann thought Bush had a mandate in 2004, and she probably thought he had a mandate in 2000 as well."

Point to a post that shows that. You can't.

I didn't even vote for Bush in 2000. And I did vote for Obama. So what's your logic?

downtownlad said...

Let's not forget that the Republicans lost 31 house seats and 6 Senate seats in 2006.

So that's a shift of 50+ House seats to the Democrats and 13+ Senate seats since 2006.

How big does the shift need to be in order to be a mandate?

And let's not forget that McCain was running against a black guy.

Allan said...

Every president has a mandate. He is president, after all; the people eleccted him. The problem is that the scope of the manddate is not clear until he tries to do anything controversial.

downtownlad said...

That was all the wingnuts talked about in 2004. How Bush's election was the biggest mandate ever. Never heard you dispute that.

And I haven't heard the same thing amongst the liberal blogs, although I have heard all the wingnuts saying that Obama DOES NOT have a mandate.

I have heard liberal blogs talking about whether or not Obama will be able to implement his agenda. Nobody considers it a done deal.

You say you voted for Obama. That doesn't mean you did.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I'll supply one, something I thought people would say that I was waiting to debunk: Obama has a mandate.

No, the myth is that he doesn't have a mandate.

Obama didn't just win narrowly as Bush did both times. He won red states like Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia. The states he won broadly represent the diversity of this country, while McCain won an anemic bloc of heavily right-leaning states.

His approval rating is through the roof.

Yes, the factors for Obama winning were overdetermined, i.e. if you take any one thing out of the picture he still probably would have won. But it would be perverse to use that to say he didn't have a very strong win. The very reason we're able to say, "The factors were overdetermined in Obama's favor," is that Election Day has already happened and Obama won overwhelmingly.

But the most important fact is: Bush presumed to have a mandate, and conservatives went along with this. Bush won by just one state both times, losing the popular vote once.

If Bush had a mandate, then Obama -- who ran under an unmistakable theme of dramatic change, who decisively won the popular vote and electoral college, and who's taking office during wartime and amid multiple domestic and global crises -- has a mandate in spades.

Ann Althouse said...

"Never heard you dispute that."

That's your standard for when you can assert what people think?

Chip Ahoy said...

Sounds about right to me.

Myth

* glees *
* twirls *

6. The new president is going to change the way things get done in Washington.

7. The results of the election was much of anything beyond the predictable unpreventable ineluctable swing of national political pendulum.

8. Hope, Change, Yes We Can, ha ha ha ha ha.

9. Bush is the worst president in American history..

10. The present financial crisis is the result of the last eight years of Bush's failed economic policies, and that will suddenly evaporate

11. 95% of Americans will receive a tax reduction

12. The wealthy will finally begin to start paying their fair share.

13. The beaten down and abused middle class will be fully restored and expanded.

14. The illegal War in Iraq was a deplorable waste of life and treasure.

15. Looking at that face straight on with those silly ears for four years will install confidence in the American electorate.

16. America must now all come together or fail.

17. Congress, with the lowest poll numbers known since the advent of polling, lower even that Bush's, will suddenly become admired for their remarkable successes.

18. Democrats now controlling the House, the Senate and the Executive branch will suddenly grow up.

19. Biden will suddenly start making sense.

Oops. Seems I'm drifting off topic. Sorry. Carry on.

John Althouse Cohen said...

You say you voted for Obama. That doesn't mean you did.

Downtownlad, I obviously agree with you on the mandate. That argument is strong on its own terms. You don't help your case by implying that my mom is a liar. She said she voted for Obama because she did vote for Obama -- end of story.

downtownlad said...

The black vote went from 88% Democratic in 2004 to 95% in 2008.

The youth vote went from 54% to 66%. Latinos had a huge swing as well, from 53% to 67%.

In fact the only group that had a bigger swing was amongst those making more than 200K a year from 35% for Kerry to 52% for Kerry.

Yes, when you win by 7%, as Obama did you can say the youth vote doesn't matter, but it was still one of his strongest groups.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/obama-outperforms-kerry-among-virtually.html

Darcy said...

Interesting.

I think ricpic is right on #4, but we'll never know. We ran as far from that as we possibly could. And all of the weasel Repubs in Congress made plenty of people think that was the best strategy.

I do think Obama and the Dems have a mandate. It makes me nauseous, but they do, in my opinion.

Salamandyr said...

Obama has a mandate. He won the election, that's all the mandate he needs. That doesn't mean he should get his way on anything. No amount of turnout would earn him that.

In other news, when do you think Blogger is going to get around to updating their spellcheck with Obama's name?

PJ said...

The problem with Obama claiming a mandate would not be his share of the vote, it would be the absence of big identifiable positions that could be said to constitute the centerpiece of his campaign. I think there are a few things Obama has a mandate to do, such as withdraw troops from Iraq within 14 months (unless AQ reorganizes there, in which case he has a mandate to go back in); win the war in Afghanistan; kill OBL even if it means committing acts of war against nominal ally Pakistan; roll back the Bush tax cuts "for the rich"; establish different tax cuts "for the middle class." (I do not think he has a mandate to institute a negative income tax, because I do not think he effectively explained to the voters that that's how he was proposing to achieve tax cuts for 95% of the population.)

In the main, though, I agree with the Professor that Obama won by being the Democrat, and I think he did that by shaping his candidacy around broad themes that, while avoiding alienation of potential supporters from the far left to the center-right, did not lead to a mandate to do anything in particular.

Ann Althouse said...

Obama was predicted to win my state easily, so actually voting for Obama was less consequential than writing on my blog that I voted for Obama.

If the idea is that I'm a walking, talking Bradley effect, concerned about what my colleagues and neighbors think of me, that's inconsistent with so many things I've written on this blog over the years. It's just stupid to portray me as a coward about expressing my opinion. Look at this blog as a whole and you should understand how stupid that is.

But go ahead, call me a liar, if that's your thing. I know at least one longtime regular commenter has abandoned the comments to this blog and has asserted (via email) that I've lied about my vote.

Life goes on.

downtownlad said...

It was a common theme amongst Instapundit and the other right-wing blogs. If you disagreed with it, I would think you would have said something.

Yes - I don't know what you thought, so of course I'm speculating.

But Bush won - it wasn't anything controversial. Personally, I laughed at the meme that is was the biggest mandate EVAH. But he did have a mandate. He just wasted it on trying to privatize Social Security - a subject he didn't run on.

I still don't know why you voted for Obama. All you did was criticize him all year.

Personally, I don't care if Obama has a mandate or not (although I think he does). I'm not a huge fan of his policies. But I would like him to govern competently. The country needs competence right now. Even if it is boring.

downtownlad said...

I didn't say you lied. I said we don't know how you voted. Only you really know.

I suspected that it was a tactic to say that you voted for Obama, as that would give you more authority to criticize him going forward. And personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with that tactic.

But you seem insistent on this, so I will take you at your word that you voted for Obama.

Apologies.

PJ said...

Obama -- who ran under an unmistakable theme of dramatic change . . . has a mandate in spades

I don't think a successful candidate can have a mandate for something as big and vague as instituting "dramatic change," regardless of margin of victory. I named some things I think Obama has a mandate to do because they were specific promises he put at the center of his campaign and effectively communicated to voters. That's what I think mandates are made of.

Richard Fagin said...

Critcizing a candidate doesn't mean that the critic won't vote for the candidate, e.g., Rush Limbaugh who hammered McCain before he clinched the nomination in March and continued to hammer McCain on some issues right up to the election.

Other myth: notwithstanding his considerable political skills, President Obama will govern in the manner of the leftist that he is at heart.

downtownlad said...

I think he has a mandate on alternative energy though, which I will wholeheartedly support.

Removing our addiction on fossil fuels is not only important for the environment (which I do care deeply about - although I don't care about global warming), but it's important for our national defense. Less money on oil means less money for the terrorists.

And technology is finally catching up for this to become entirely feasible.

Ann Althouse said...

"I still don't know why you voted for Obama. All you did was criticize him all year."

As I explained, I my dislike of McCain was greater. I also voted for Obama in the Wisconsin primary. My dislike of Hillary was greater.

Unlike some people, I don't love political leaders. We need them, but we should not fall in love them. We should test them and criticize them and keep up the pressure on them not to screw up.

Also, Obama was an interesting character, so I wrote about him a lot. I write about what interests me, and then, when I decide to write about something, I write the way I write.

downtownlad said...

The silly thing is that his mandate was entirely centrist. He did not run a left-wing campaign.

But the right-wing made him out to be a terrorist Marxist. They must have believed their own propaganda, which is why they are so frightened of a mandate.

Americans, I suspect, are not that afraid of getting a $1000 tax cut.

Darcy said...

Well, I agree that the idea of giving "95% of Americans a tax cut" was not leftist. But that's not what it really was. So I'm still not sure that a majority of Americans understood what that tax "cut" meant for many Americans.
And shame on them, if they didn't!!

If they understood, then they definitely did not vote their approval of a centrist policy as far as taxes go. I'd like to know what they really thought, but haven't seen such a question in the polls.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I don't think a successful candidate can have a mandate for something as big and vague as instituting "dramatic change," regardless of margin of victory. I named some things I think Obama has a mandate to do because they were specific promises he put at the center of his campaign and effectively communicated to voters. That's what I think mandates are made of.

PJ, when you say (in your earlier comment) that Obama was vague on the issues, you're just wrong on the facts. Obama took a clear stance on every major issue. Health care, taxes, the environment, foreign policy -- everything. On his website, in his stump speeches, in the debates.

Yes, you've named some issues where he was specific, but you yourself haven't given any specific issue where he wasn't specific. As usual with the complaints about Obama being "vague," this complaint itself is what's vague.

To be clear: when I said Obama ran on a theme of dramatic, that's in addition his specific positions. The change theme unifies the specific policies -- it doesn't detract from them. I don't know why so many conservatives have such a hard time understanding this point (they never seem to have a problem with it when a Republican candidate runs on specific positions plus a general theme).

And in all the text you've posted, you still haven't gotten to the basic question: if Bush had a mandate with one-state victories, then how can Republicans turn around and deny that Obama has a mandate now?

downtownlad said...

Who has fallen in love with Obama?

That's right wing propaganda, referring to him as "The One" and "The Messiah". But Obama's followers were never like that. At least not the ones I know.

Almost all of my friends voted for Obama, but I don't know anyone who is in love with him. Many were Hillary supporters who eventually came around to him. And even those who were with him since the beginning like him because he's smart. They HOPE he'll be a good leader, but now they have a wait and see attitude. But they are all glad to see Bush go.

And I think all of my friends would be ecstatic of Obama were to try and reach across the aisle and stop the partisanship. The thing that was most infurating over the last four years were the accusations that you weren't a real American if you criticized your country and tried to make it better. It's what caused me to leave. It's not fun to be scapegoated by your own President.

I do have hopes that Obama can end that. If anyone is up to the task - he is. God knows I couldn't do it. Bush has made me too bitter and he has made me hate my own country.

Personally - I'd like to be proud of America again.

Darcy said...

I agree with Jac, that Obama was very specific on his website. His plans were very detailed for all to see.

I don't think the media had much of an interest in analyzing his policies and whether his rhetoric matched them, and I believe he greatly benefited from that. Big surprise! ;-)

However, if John McCain had developed equally specific, right-of-center policies early on as Obama did, he probably would have benefited from those as well. Obama appeared to be more in favor of cutting taxes on the whole than McCain did!

Darcy said...

Whoops. My post sounds like I thought Obama's policies were right-of-center. I emphatically did not.

Peg C. said...

The post-election analyses are pretty damn amusing in a dark comedy sort of way. It's like the mea culpas are starting already and the boob hasn't even taken office yet.

There is no such thing as a Democrat mandate. Were it not for the MSM, academia, Hollywood, and virtually every other nation on this planet, Democrats would never, ever win the presidency. Given what a horrible candidate McCain was and how much so many of us conservatives hated him, it's amazing the Dems won by as little as they did. No mandate.

Anthony said...

Ann, you're wrong about the mandate. Obama has a mandate to do one, maybe two, things.

1: Lower taxes on most people. That was one of his big campaign promises, and one which McCain had a lot of trouble attacking Obama's plan.

2: Do something about healthcare so that people out of work remain covered, but without requiring people to buy healthcare. This didn't feature as strongly in the general campaign, but it did in the primary.

Simon said...

With great reluctance, I agree with JAC about the mandate. That Obama won a handful of red states is of little moment, but that "[t]he states he won broadly represent the diversity of this country" matters. One of the reasons I defend the electoral college is because states have important interests that are driven by issues like geography but which are are unconnected to their population. We are a federal republic, a union into which the states entered with their sovereignty intact except so far as modified by the Constitution. Thus, in a water dispute between California and the other Colorado River states, for example, California shouldn't win automatically, simply because it has more people. Counting only population devalues the interests of the states.

In the context of Presidential elections, the electoral college acts as a counterbalance, inflating the voting power of smaller states and allowing their interests greater voice. Obama won the coastal Democratic base, but, like Bush, he also won a broad coalition of diverse states throughout the country. He could have won without those states, but that he did win them - that he was able to win in a number of regions with diverse interests - does add up to a mandate.

technogypsy said...

What the hell is this mandate everyone talks about anyway? Has anyone ever defined it?

Obama won. He get to try stuff. Democrats have Congress. Ditto. That's all it ever is.

Mandate implies some sweeping agreement and we ain't seen that is decades.

Lawgiver said...

Thi is a good myth;

He won Indiana and North Carolina solely because of the youth vote.

Personally DTL, I hope you never become proud of America again. People like you and your extreme right anti-image, Fred Phelps, help keep our country centered. Rational people don't want to fall off either edge.

Palladian said...

I nominate "mandate" as the most tiresome word of Fall 2008.

Daryl said...

Obama flip-flopped on just about every issue. He had one story during the primaries (the truth: he's very liberal) and another story during the general election (the lie: that he's a moderate).

He's going to get to pick and choose from his (many, conflicting) stated positions, but that doesn't mean he has a mandate for them.

Palladian said...

"His approval rating is through the roof."

He hasn't done anything yet, dickweed!

Palladian said...

There's only one interesting "Mandate" as far as I'm concerned. [Link NSFW! Dirty Pictures!]

Zeb Quinn said...

Obama has a mandate alrighty, along with Reid, Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, et.al., the vaunted filibuster-proof majority, yes, they've all got a mandate. But the funny thing about it is as soon as they start doing something with it it'll be time for the 2010 mid-term elections, and Poof!!, it's all over.

Jon said...

JAC wrote: "His approval rating is through the roof."

Ramsussen's Daily tracker has Obama's approval rating at just under 60%- healthy, but not "through the roof".

Ann Althouse said...

If Obama has a mandate, it needs to be a mandate to do something, but what would that something be?

If I had to say, I'd say to make us feel good about ourselves. So far, based on that weekly address he did yesterday, I'd say he's going in the opposite direction. What a downer!

Zeb Quinn said...

And another thing. The upshot of this is people are going to fall out of love very fast when it comes to this guy. It's gonna be over very quickly.

Simon said...

I should qualify my comment above: obviously Obama hasn't and couldn't have won a mandate to carry out those parts of his platform that violate or sit at best uneasily with the Constitution.

Kudos that Cillizza sees the truth about Palin that is absolutely obvious to anyone who thinks about it, yet many seem to dim to realize.

A couple of other points:

"[M]any Republicans these day ... argue that hitting rock bottom was the only way to allow new faces and ideas to emerge."

That's a nice sentiment, but if it's true, we apparently haven't hit the bedrock yet. Jon Boehner will still be House Majority Leader

"The fact that roughly a third of the Democratic House majority sits in seats with Republican underpinnings (at least at the presidential level) is almost certain to keep a liberal dream agenda from moving through Congress."

I think this will prove to be little restraint. The incentives to go along with Pelosi are strong while the costs are weak: they will enjoy the benefits of incumbency, and while the voters don't watch closely, the whip's office does.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"If Obama has a mandate, it needs to be a mandate to do something, but what would that something be?"

To not be George W. Bush, if the exit polls are to be believed.

jackson said...

When Obama supporters say that Obama has a mandate, what they're really trying to say is that by evidence of his election the country's electorate has swung to the left. If that's true, then it was very strange for Obama to fight tooth and nail to distance himself from the allegations of the NRA, his association with Bill Ayers, ACORN, gay marriage advocates, etc., you know, anything that made him appear to be the leftist I expect he is. It seems to me if the country has actually swung center left, he would be embracing leftist characters and causes, not shunning them.

And despite what Althouse the younger says, Obama did run mostly on vague promises of hope and change. I'd be willing to bet that most of his supporters have never been to his website, or could even name an Obama position other than tax cuts and perhaps Iraq, which Bush has gift-wrapped for him.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If Bush had a mandate, then Obama ... has a mandate in spades.

Ahh, to be a non-conservative and thus able to get away with this sort of thing.

Neil said...

It's not the margin of victory that determines whether Obama has a mandate to implement a specific agenda; it's the role his agenda played in getting him elected.

Obama won because the economy is doing poorly, and he successfully linked McCain to Bush in people's minds (not a difficult task). That's it. Plenty of interviews, surveys, and exit polls will show you that Obama supporters usually backed no specific agenda of his, only the need for "change".

It is the same way with football coaches. When the wins stop coming at the expected rate, alumni, sportswriters, etc. start calling for the coach to be fired, regardless of the soundness of his coaching philosophy, the quality of his playcalling, his great achievements in the past, and so on. Obama is the new coach brought in to restore glory to the program. Not because he's necessarily got a better approach than the old coach, but because people are tired of losing and want someone--anyone--different.

PJ said...

JAC --

To start with your last question (and I'm sorry for not recognizing that it was your main point), I would indeed apply the same criteria to Bush. I think anyone who took the position in 2000 or 2004 that Bush, by virtue of his one-state wins, had a mandate to do whatever was on his website, must now agree that Obama has even more of a mandate to do the same. But I wasn't one of those people. IIRC, in 2000, I didn't think he had a mandate to do much of anything, and in 2004 I thought he had a mandate to persevere in Iraq, because that's what he campaigned on in a way that most voters understood and that distinguished him from his opponent.

I'm sure there were all sorts of specific policy proposals with charts and graphs on Obama's website, but that's not what I call effectively communicating proposals to voters. The items I listed above were things I thought had penetrated the consciousness of the average voter, who didn't visit either candidate's website but absorbed an average amount of MSM coverage and perhaps watched one or both debates. To me (and perhaps only me), that's where mandates come from. I don't think Obama can claim a mandate to do every single thing on his website that represents "change" just because he won on a general theme of change and listed lots of specific proposals on his website.

I am willing to accept that I may not have listed above all of the promises that Obama effectively communicated to the average voter according to my own definition, and I might agree that he has a mandate to do additional specific things if those were brought to my attention. But I don't think you can just look at the size of the win and then incorporate his website by reference and proclaim a mandate for the whole thing.

Palladian said...

Stop saying "mandate"! Stop it! It's been said 65 times in a thread of 45 comments! Stop!

Palladian said...

74 times!!!

Paul Zrimsek said...

But the funny thing about it is as soon as they start doing something with it it'll be time for the 2010 mid-term elections, and Poof!!, it's all over.

Come to think of it, the Democratic mandate is a lot like the support of the whole world that we enjoyed after 9/11. You know, the one Bush threw away by trying to do something with it.

Darcy said...

Mandate. :)

"76 trombones led the big parade..."

MayBee said...

A mandate means little until the details of a plan begin emerging.
For example, we can say that Obama has a mandate to implement his tax plan, but what did voters actually think his tax plan was?

As late as October, Gallup told us
46% of the voters thought Obama would raise their taxes. 41% thought he would not.
It isn't at all obvious that all Obama voters thought their taxes would be *lowered*.

What about health care? He has a mandate, if we listen to his promises, to lower premiums, offer the same type of insurance Congress has to all who don't have insurance, and to ensure nobody can be rejected by the insurance companies. He provided no mechanism to make that possible.
Perhaps he has a mandate to start investigating how he'll fulfill his pledges, but he can't have a mandate to actually just *do* them.

A mandate is only good for setting the direction of the administration.

Allan said...

The only way to tell if a successful candidate has a mandate is retrospectively. If he makes (or forestalls) a change, we can say the mandate was there.

If any recent successful candate ever had a mandate, it's Eliot Spitzer. Look where he is.

Nobody in Congress who would otherwise oppose one of Obama's proposals is likely to change his views because he persuades that the president has a mystical mandate. To say that one's successful candidate has a mandate is just either a form of gloating or a way to try to exert psychological pressure on the other side. But nobody need give up his independent judgment and follow the leader because of the leader's victory.

Obama has no mandate other than what is in Article II of the Constitution, as modified by relevant amendments. He has this mandate whether he wins by one electoral vote or unanimously-- with 40% or 65% of the popular vote. Other than that he only has his power of persuasion and the willingness of Congress to be persuaded.

Simon said...

downtownlad said...
"[Bush] did have a mandate. He just wasted it on trying to privatize Social Security - a subject he didn't run on."

I agree with that. At very least, if he was going to do it, he should have committed to actually doing it. Instead, he floated it, it went down in flames, setting a tone that pervaded his second administration. I think the record will show that that was the beginning of the end. The only intelligent decision he made in his second term for which he can really be given full credit was nominating John Roberts. Everything else was either a disaster or failing upwards (for example, picking Alito: that was a great decision, but Bush can't get the credit for it because he first tried to foist Miers on us, and when defeated, he simply took the path of least resistance, which happened to run through Alito).

Simon said...

Perhaps one could say that he has won a mandate for the lowest common denominator - the part of his platform that was agreed on by all (or at least the greatest number) of those who voted for him.

Michael E. Lopez said...

When people say "mandate" in American politics, they really only mean one tangible thing by it: an expected license to be free from criticism.

Really -- that's it. That's all a "mandate" amounts to.

We can see this by asking ourselves, "What is the difference between President Obama pushing through policy X with a mandate, and President Obama pushing through policy X without one?"

The answer has solely to do with the expected behavior of the opponents of policy X.

Palladian said...

94 uses of the word "mandate" in 56 comments.

Dudley Do-right said...

I've got another myth to add to the list:

The Democrats planted some IEDs in the economy over the past decade and detonated them this year to get their man in. Until the economy tanked, McCain/Palin was taking the lead. Once the crash and then the bailout got rolling, it was all downhill.

Admittedly, the economy was a house of cards, based on debt to the extent that it was. All it needed was a good jar to bring it down. Subprime loans, made with the collusion of Fred and Fan (and the approval of Frank and Dodd), did the trick.

It would explain why Dem fingerprints are all over the subprime turd sandwich. Now, I think they, too, are scared of all the damage that's been done. A lot of people are going to learn painful lessons from this debacle.

bearbee said...

Who claims that Bush won an 'M' word in either 2000 or 04?

2000 Election:

Bush v Gore
Electoral vote 271 v 266
States carried 30 v 20+DC
Popular vote 50,765,002 v 50,465,897
Percentage 48.9% v 47.1%

2004 Election:

Bush v Kerry
Electoral vote 286 v 251
States carried 31 v 19+DC
Popular vote 62,040,610 v 59,028,444
Percentage 50.7% v 48.3%

Palladian said...

"A lot of people are going to learn painful lessons from this debacle."

Hopefully.

BJM said...

I recently heard Tom Brokaw say in an interview that 79% of McCain/Palin's coverage was negative while Obama/Biden's was 29% on NBC. From what I saw and read during the election I'd guess a similar percentage of pro-Obama bias would hold across the MSM.

The media elected Obama and when the expected agenda is not being met they will erode his mandate as they did with Clinton in '94.

The Republicans are political non-entities at the moment and will not have their act together any time soon.

This leaves the MSM with only one target of opportunity to fill the news cycle maw. If things begin to go seriously wrong look for Pelosi to be the first thrown off the train.

Clinton was very fortunate in that he presided over the computer revolution and dot com bubble which fueled the economy to dizzying heights and budget surpluses.

Obama is forced to deal with the residue of the post-9/11 economic downturn and 90's laissez faire deregulation policies and excesses in the mortgage industry and credit crunch. His options will be fewer and narrower than the goals promised during the campaign. This will not make for a happy national media.

The task awaiting Obama reminds me of one of my favorite parables:

There once were two dogs that spent their days chasing every car that passed by. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, they chased cars all day long. Then one day they actually caught one. At that moment one of the dogs turned to the other and said, "Hey, we finally caught one of these things!! But what the hell do we do now????!!!"

Big Mike said...

Barack Obama won 200 more electoral votes than John McCain. Of course he has a mandate. I say that as long-time Republican.

The buyer's remorse seems to have already set in in some quarters. I see that if I don't order my "Don't blame me, I voted for McCain" bumper sticker quickly it's going to be on a 6 month back order.

BTW, myth #4 is not a myth at all. If the "October surprise" hadn't been the late September collapse of the financial industry I think McCain could have pulled it out. We'll never know.

A note for JAC. It never mattered to me what Barack Obama said about issues. The advantage any newbie with an empty resume has is that he or she can say anything they want in order to win. (As your mother about Jimmy Carter's promise that he'd never lie to us.) Can they provide the leadership to get their program through? Nancy Peolosi, during an interview on the Charlie Rose show, made it clear that she and Harry Reid plan to challenge him immediately, and I think we're seeing the first of those challenges. I don't see much of a response from the President-elect, and I don't think we're going to see much of a response. No shame on you for falling for the old trick; everybody gets to be young once.

M. Simon said...

Obama has a man date?

I didn't know he was gay.

M. Simon said...

Obama has a mandate to wipe out half our electrical generation and all of our oil use.

If it causes some minor pain for our economy well - he has a mandate to fix it with 10,000 GW of solar cells and wind mills in 10 years or less. At a cost for electricity of 3X to 5X current costs.

Since the addition to our alternative energy production was something like 10GW peak last year all he has to do is raise that by a factor of 1,000 in 10 years.

My prediction? If he succeeds there will be a lot of jobs going to China and India. So he will be helping the poor. Just not those in America.

Zeb Quinn said...

Bringing up Bush in this context isn't really fair or accurate because presidents don't get a mandate for their 2nd term, other than an approval of what they did in their first term, and an assent to more of the same. Second terms seem to always fizzle anyway, and Bush isn't alone in that. Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, LBJ (to the extent his election was a re-election), maybe even Ike to some extent, none lived up to expectations.

Where Bush really went wrong is after he won in 2004 he stopped all PR efforts. He never seemed to understand that he needed to keep advocating for himself and for his policies. He ceded a vacuum to his critics and to the media and they filled that vacuum with their special style of hate.

helplessquivering said...

assign, authorization, behest, bidding, blank check, carte blanche, charge, command, commission, decree, delegate, designate, depute, dictate, directive, edict, fiat, go-ahead, green light, imperative, injunction, instruction, okay, order, precept, prescribe, sanction, warrant

AlphaLiberal said...

Post-election spin, though I agree Dems may not be sufficiently progressive. These guys are really stuck in 1994. It's advisable to keep up with the times, and the people, in politics.

Here's the myth that needs bursting: "America is a center-right nation."

History has consequences. The recent history of gross Republican incompetence, contempt for numerous groups of Americans, and pathological dishonesty have taught a generation of Americans to reject Republicanism as it's defined today.

Our politics shifted in the past couple years. The American people have rejected the party and policies of Katrina, tax cuts for the rich, Halliburton, warrantless wiretapping, Iraq corruption, torture, Gitmo, shoot-you-in-the-face, environmental inaction, international belligerence and economic mismanagement.

Things have changed.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Ramsussen's Daily tracker has Obama's approval rating at just under 60%- healthy, but not "through the roof".

I saw it in the mid 60s since he was elected. You couldn't expect much better considering that there are always going to be a bunch of staunch Republicans out there who aren't going to be happy about telling a pollster they approve of a Democratic president. Maybe I was exaggerating a little to use the phrase "through the roof," but the basic point still stands: he's very popular right now.


I would indeed apply the same criteria to Bush.

OK, so an internet commenter in 2008 says Bush didn't have a mandate in 2000 or 2004. That's nice, but it matters very little since the Bush administration has already happened. What matters is how he actually governed. He governed as if he had a huge mandate, and I didn't notice a lot of Republican commentators back then being as reasoned and measured as you are now.


I'm sure there were all sorts of specific policy proposals with charts and graphs on Obama's website, but that's not what I call effectively communicating proposals to voters.

As I said before, he communicated his positions in the convention speech and the debates -- all watched by tens of millions of people. I wasn't just talking about the website.

And I note that even though you responded to my comment, you didn't specifically answer my question of which policy he was vague about. Did he not have a health-care plan? Did he not have a tax plan? Did he not have foreign-policy views? (If not, then what was McCain disagreeing with him about so strongly?!)


A note for JAC. It never mattered to me what Barack Obama said about issues.

Again, the after-the-fact claims of any particular internet commenter are of negligible significance. 130 million people voted in this election, and most of them voted for Obama. We can't mind-read those millions of people -- we can only look at the results. The people listened to Obama and McCain talk about the issues, and they preferred Obama.

Give the American people the minimal amount of credit to admit that they voted for the candidate they actually preferred based on all the relevant factors.

I know many of the commenters on this blog don't like Obama's policies and are sure that either he'll fail to implement them or that they'll fail if they are implemented. Well, if that happens, the voters can punish the Democrats in 2, 4, 6, 8 years. Fair enough. But to say right now that the voters didn't just voice their preference for Democratic leadership and Democratic policies? That's simply not a plausible reading of the facts.

Micha Elyi said...

A mandate from the voters is an expressed instruction or consent for a successful candidate for office to carry out specific political program(s).

Hopey-changitude is not a political program. Nor is it consent for anything. Claiming, as JAC does, that the majority of voters (or even the majority of Obama's voters alone) cast their votes with the intention of affirming all of Obama's contradictory and ever-changing positions on a multitude of subjects is weak.

wind said...

If the post above (by AlphaLiberal) represents the essence of leftist America, it is obvious why America is still a center-right nation.

Allan said...

"When people say "mandate" in American politics, they really only mean one tangible thing by it: an expected license to be free from criticism.

"Really -- that's it. That's all a "mandate" amounts to."

Then there is no such thing as a mandate in the United States of America. Kim Jong Il has a mandate in North Korea. He expects to be free from criticism.

M. Simon said...

Obama Approval In The Mid 60s, Has Accomplished Nothing So Far.

Do you think he can keep that up?

Cedarford said...

Much as I detest agreeing with DTL, he has a good point:

downtownlad said...
Let's not forget that the Republicans lost 31 house seats and 6 Senate seats in 2006.

So that's a shift of 50+ House seats to the Democrats and 13+ Senate seats since 2006.


It's not just Obama beating McCain, it is Voters placing Democrats in solid control of Congress and most state legislatures since 2006. A stunning reversal for the "Solid Red State Majority".

But Obama would be very wise not to think he has a mandate past the issues voters voted him and the State, Congressional Democrats in on: (1)Ending the concept of endless expensive wars, (2)The working poor and middle class losing ground, jobs, health care, and a future for their kids, (3)restoring competent government. (4)ending danger of theocrats and Neocons running our domestic and foreign policy.

Obama and his people should know how quickly "mandates" disapear if he misinterprets what his mandate is* - and how fast Bush's 90% approval rating back in the spring of 2002 went heading down and never stopped.

(* contrary to many liberal Dems, there is no mandate to downsize the military, shove the gay agenda on America, restrict gun ownership rights, and abandon sensible energy independence solutions for the ridiculous, expensive crap Simon alludes to.)

LonewackoDotCom said...

The idea that a Republican couldn't have won is ludicrous. The Dems selected a far-left cipher and the MSM helped him win through lies and smears. If the McCain campaign had been competent and the MSM hadn't been completely in the tank for BHO, McCain - or a better candidate - could have easily won.

For examples of the WaPo's smears and lies, see the partial list here.

Bonus: find out how many of those lies and smears Althouse bought. I know there was at least one, but I'd be very surprised if there aren't several. Perhaps letting Insty do the thinking for her wasn't such a good idea after all.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Ann Althouse said As I explained, I my dislike of McCain was greater.

It's too bad you didn't do your civic duty then and try to reduce his chances of being nominated. That's something you could have easily done if you'd bothered to ask him a real question when you were one of the selected few for his conference calls.

Instead, you either didn't ask him a question or asked him about shoes or some other airhead topic.

PJ said...

OK, so an internet commenter in 2008 says Bush didn't have a mandate in 2000 or 2004. That's nice, but it matters very little since the Bush administration has already happened. What matters is how he actually governed. He governed as if he had a huge mandate, and I didn't notice a lot of Republican commentators back then being as reasoned and measured as you are now.

Forgive me if I'm missing something, but the reasoning here seems to be (1) Bush governed as though he had a mandate even though he may not have actually had one; (2) Obama had a larger margin of victory than Bush; therefore (3) Obama is not only entitled to act as though he has a mandate, but it is beyond dispute that he actually has one. I don't think that's sound, and I think it's obvious where that tit-for-tat approach will lead. But then I'm just an internet commenter that you didn't notice being reasonable in 2000-04, so I'm in no position to demand sound reasoning now.

And I note that even though you responded to my comment, you didn't specifically answer my question of which policy he was vague about. Did he not have a health-care plan? Did he not have a tax plan? Did he not have foreign-policy views? (If not, then what was McCain disagreeing with him about so strongly?!)

Here, we're just talking past each other. I say that what matters is what the average voter actually understood about Obama's specific proposals when the lever was pulled, and you say what matters is whether specific proposals existed. You ask me what I thought was vague about the specific proposals, I ask for additional examples of specific proposals the average voter understood, and neither of us answers because we each think the other is missing the point. We have different ways of thinking about where mandates come from, and they lead us to partially different conclusions. The end.

Anthony said...

Obama has no mandate other than what is in Article II of the Constitution, as modified by relevant amendments.

That should really be the end of any discussion on mythical mandates. Usually the only people pushing the 'mandate' line are those whose candidate won and want him/her to be able to do everything they want without obstruction. Which is, you know, kind of inimical to the whole representative democracy thing.