[Posted by WLS Shipwrecked]
First, congratulations to President-Elect Obama and the other winners in the Democratic Party. But, the easy part is now over.
I’m struck by a few of the results yesterday, beginning with Indiana.
Indiana has been a reliably Republican state for many election cycles, with Bush having won it in 2004 by 21% over Kerry. Yet, it has a state-wide elected Democrat Senator from a famous Indiana family, so it has never been “allergic” to Democrats.
But, while 1.37 million Indiana residents voted for Sen. Obama yesterday, 1.56 million Indiana voters re-elected Mitch Daniels to his second term as Governor — that’s former Bush OMB Director Mitch Daniels. So, nearly 200,000 voters pulled the lever for both Obama and Daniels – “Change” and “Bush Status Quo” at the same time.
But, Indiana should have been seen by the GOP as the “canary in the coal mine” in 2006. The reliably GOP state saw three incumbent GOP members of the House – out of 11 total members – lose to conservative democrats. Richard Lugar is the stalwart Republican presence in the state, but no one would confuse him for the future of the GOP.
Florida went narrowly for Obama, but a ballot measure banning gay marriage in Florida passed with 62%. Obama got 4.1 million votes, but the ballot measure got 4.7 million votes.
In California Obama commands at least 6.1 million votes, but opposition to the Constitutional Amendment banning gay “marriage” manages only 4.76 million votes. At least 1.4 million voters — probably many more because some McCain voters must have voted “no” – who voted for Obama nevertheless voted to ban gay “marriage” under the California Constitution. That’s a lot of socially conservative voters polling the lever for Obama.
This election reminds me very much of 1992 on a superficial level. The country was coming through a difficult economic time with the S&L crisis, and the Dems had the new young fresh face who represented generational change, while the GOP was represented by one of its “old hands” who represented a continuation of the policies of the status quo. In each instance the Dems had the superior politician and ran the superior campaign both tactically and strategically.
The Clintons misread the scope of their mandate in 1993, and paid an enormous price in 1994. I suspect the Obama administration won’t make that mistake. But that sets up a very interesting scenario vis-a-vis Congress.
Bill Clinton was a career executive when he came to Washington. He was used to running the government apparatus of Arkansas, and making the legislature bend to his will. Yet when he got to Washington he traded some a very liberal Congressional Dem wish-list for their support on his plan to take over the health care system. He never really recovered from the disaster that resulted from both.
Obama, on the other hand, has never been anything other than a legislator — and at every step he has looked to his party’s leadership on how to vote.
He has spent less than 4 years in the Senate — actually involving himself in Senate affairs for only the first 2 years — so I’m guessing he has few close personal associations with Dem senators there, and even less with senior members of the House. Not having come “through” Washington during his rise to the top, and never having been part of the Clinton machine, it’ll be interesting to see how Obama tries to make the gears of his administration mesh with the gears of the old Dem Bulls in Congress — guys and gals who have been there for DECADES waiting for their opportunity to pass legislation what will have a friendly reception when it gets to the Oval Office.
Never having been in the role of a party leader before, but rather having served consistently as a loyal foot-soldier in the party’s efforts, will Obama buck the Old Bulls in the Congress to avoid the types of mistakes Clinton made in moving too far left too fast?
But, regardless of which way he goes, he’s likely to disappoint a huge bloc of voters who supported him because of what he represented.
If he moves aggressively in step with the left wing of the party through House members like Pelosi, Frank, Rangel, Dingel, and Waxman, those 200,000 voters in Indiana who voted for both him and Mitch Daniels — as well as millions of other ticket splitters across the 50 states — are going to quickly abandon the “Change” bandwagon.
If he moves more cautiously and keeps the left-wingers in Congress in check out of prudence and pragmatism, he’s going to disappoint the left-wing nuts who watch Keith Olbermann and listen to Randi Rhodes. You’ll see it when he keeps Robert Gates on as Sec. of Defense for a year, and suddenly finds wisdom in the advice and go-it-slow approach of Gen. Petraeus in Iraq.
Finally, if Hillary has ANY aspirations to be President, I doubt it would wait until 2016. Bill Clinton is going to be shuffled off to the side by the Obama Administration so as to not be an annoyance. The only way to stay in the limelight and have a chance to attract a glow from history, is to get back into the inner circle of power. Obama’s not going to give it to him. He’s got to get Hillary into the WH in 2012.
Kennedy v. Carter all over again? Teddy always wanted to be President. So does Bill Clinton — again.
– WLS Shipwrecked