An atmosphere of euphoria swirled around Barack Obama last January. A year later, the hoopla looks even more ludicrous, as liberals find themselves peering down forlornly at a few remaining crumbs on their cracked commemorative plates.
The cocky, gibbering hosts on MSNBC, who had chortled over the "end of an error" last January, were reduced on Tuesday night to hesitant silence, though Rachel Maddow did summon the energy to furrow her brow censoriously at Scott Brown's "weird" remark about the "availability" of his daughters that he made during his victory speech.
Scott Brown had feminists and avant-garde liberals so turned around that their idea of a late hit was to talk about his improper photo spread decades ago in a magazine they have long championed. That they had helped to create and spread the Cosmo culture didn't seem to faze them or figure into their analysis of why voters didn't care. A female anchor on CNN mumbled something about "double standards," though it would be safe to guess that a copy of Cosmopolitan still arrives in her mailbox.
MSNBC, doing its part to help get out the vote for Coakley, ran a streaming headline at the bottom of the screen on election day which said that Brown supports "waterboarding." Apparently, ignorant viewers were supposed to see that, gasp, and then rush to the polls.
It didn't seem to occur to MSNBC's hosts that what they considered grim warnings about Brown -- if he wins, ObamaCare dies, they said repeatedly -- would serve instead as open invitations to vote for him. The lunges at him were a measure of their extremism, not his: If a moderate Republican like Brown qualifies as a "reactionary" in the eyes of MSNBC anchors, then the entire nation is out of touch with their superior wisdom.
Obama's campaigning for Coakley seemed notable only for its fecklessness and ambivalence. He couldn't be bothered to wear a tie at her campaign event; he acted like he didn't know the name of her opponent.
It would appear that Brown's victory isn't just a referendum on the radicalism of Obama's administration but also reflects a distaste and exhaustion with its overall emptiness and narcissism.
In his Inaugural address, Obama spoke of the dawn of a new "era of responsibility." He was going to make Americans believe in politicians and government again. A year later, disgust for both is higher than ever.
His administration has proven to be as ordinary, corrupt, and unimaginative as any other, if not more so. The hype has amounted to a cavalcade of nothingness: a stimulus package that hasn't stimulated the economy, bailouts for corrupt unions, frivolous programs for clunkers and caulkers, bribes to pliable pols, global warming dilettantism preached to Americans in a jobless torpor, a Justice Department that looks like an annex of the ACLU, a rhetoric of transparency coupled with a reality of secrecy, and a partying and porous White House that enjoys the trappings of power while not accomplishing anything to justify them.
White House officials dismiss Coakley as a charmless and complacent loser. But their own complacency contributed to her defeat. They were on vacation in December too, as the attempted Christmas bombing fiasco underscores. And if the White House's crack political team had possessed a functioning antenna, they wouldn't have waited so long to campaign for her.
They fulminate over her gaffes, but some of them were just clear statements of liberal policy and priorities. Democratic political consultant Bob Shrum complained that she talked too much about "choice." That's a novel gripe from a former Ted Kennedy adviser.
And then there was plenty of grousing about her comment that religious freedom does not apply to nurses and doctors in emergency rooms. But that comment simply reflects the straightforward secularism of the Democratic Party. Apparently, Coakley was too transparent for the White House's taste. In any case, if a rising tide, as JFK said, lifts all boats, then Obama's claimed one should have helped Coakley's wobbly vessel get to shore.
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