So… Democrats are right now coming to terms with the fact that, strictly speaking, Barack Obama has had the same effect on their legislators’ careers as, say, a nasty cholera epidemic – in the days before the germ theory of disease. They are all processing that rather gruesome situation in different ways, of course. Some are embracing the pain. Some are trying to master the pain. Almost none of them are thinking about the implications of the pain – which is excellent news, for those of us who are on the Other Side. I always enjoy knowing that my political opponents are adamantly refusing to accept basic reality; I’m no more addicted to working harder than I have to than anybody else is.
The basic master-the-pain argument is, effectively, that it doesn’t matter all that much that seven years worth of carrying the President’s water for him has drastically hurt the Democratic party all over the country. It’s bad news for the naive local, state, and federal politicians that trusted that the Democratic party leadership was on the ball, to be sure; but this is just the way things go by the end of a two-term administration. Maybe a little worse than usual, but nothing really outside the norm. And it’ll all be reset once a Republican President takes control.
Is this true? Maybe, although the Vox master-the-pain link above tended to skip over three key details. First, of course, there’s the entire category of state legislators and statewide elected officials: everyone’s more or less up to speed on why those races matter after all, but it’s still awkward to folks who want to shrug and walk off the pain. Second, there’s the highly entertaining situation that finally the South is becoming a Republican party bastion, fully a half-century after progressives first started tendentiously pretending that it magically became after the 1964 election. The Democratic party is more or less on the verge of becoming a regional party, at least for the next two cycles; and nobody in the Democratic party leadership wants to admit to knowing what needs doing in order to reverse that.
But the big detail? Why, it’s Barack Obama itself. Even if you assume that the master-the-pain theory is correct – to wit, that everything that happened that happened to the Democratic party since Barack Obama took office was inevitable, or at least unexceptional; and that the pendulum will swing back as soon as Barack Obama is replaced by a Republican – you’re still left with this rather stunning admission by the Left that Barack Obama is nothing special. All that stuff about him being a transformational figure in American politics? All those paeans of praise to the Lightworker? All those virtues that hysterics hysterically claimed were manifest in Barack Obama? …To quote the philosopher: “Well, that’s just what we call pillow talk, baby.”
Mind you, now would be the time for the grown-ups in the Democratic party – such as they are – to start distancing themselves from Barack Obama. He has, after all, almost reached the end of his effective shelf life; and it’s not as if he’s done Democrats any favors. In fact, it’s going to take them some time to repair the damage he’s done to them, and I hope that it takes them a nice, long, while. Because goodness knows the Democrats deserve this particular pain.