The Spectacle Blog

The Democrats’ Faulty Memory

By on 9.3.12 | 6:19AM

The headline in the Washington Post suffices to demonstrate how completely Dan Balz misses the point:

Obama did not change Washington. Was there
a way around united Republican opposition?

But this is not Obama's problem, or at least it was not the problem during the first two years of Obama's term, when Democrats controlled the House of Representatives and had a nearly filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. During that period, Obama practically had carte blanche to do as he pleased, and what did he do? Bailouts and stimulus and health-care and -- more than anything else -- massive deficit spending.

It was what Obama and his Democrat congressional allies did during those two years, and not "united Republican opposition," which determined the course of Obama's presidency. Whatever one says about Obama's "hope and change" agenda, its economic component was straight-up Keynesianism, and this clearly failed to solve the unemployment problem while adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt. Dan Balz gives us the Democrat narrative:

The president’s advisers contend that Republicans chose the course of obstruction and intransigence from the day Obama was sworn in.

“We met an implacable opponent in the Republican leadership,” said David Axelrod, senior strategist for Obama’s reelection campaign and former White House senior adviser. “They made a decision, and they’ve been very open about it, that from Day One they weren’t going to cooperate on any major issue.”

Did Axelrod expect Republicans to endorse and ratify -- to lend bipartisan legitimacy to -- Obama's agenda? Was that a reasonable expectation? And what happened to those Republicans, like former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, who did embrace Obama's agenda?

"Hope and change" made for nice rhetoric, but it failed both as policy and politics, and Obama's attempt to place the blame on "united Republican opposition" shows the fundamental irresponsibility as the heart of the Democratic Party's failures. To this day, Democrats have refused to accept the electoral verdict of the mid-terms, "The Republican Mandate" election in which the GOP gained a net 63 House seats to give them a total of 242 seats -- the most Republicans have held since 1949, a majority 12 seats larger than the one captured by Newt Gingrich's GOP in 1994.

The tendency of Democrats to externalize blame, to excuse their failures by reference to Republican scapegoats, is at the heart of the failure of Obama's administration. This blame-shifting tactic may occasionally work as political rhetoric -- with the help of a servile press corps, Democrats may succeed in convincing voters that those evil Republicans somehow stole the "hope and change" -- but it is ultimately an evasion of responsibility. Voters on Nov. 6 will have an opportunity to end this evasion.

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