Following their electoral repudiation, the left is handing out very few mea culpas. Instead, we are getting a lot of whining, excuses, spinning, and outright distortions. Other than those 43 House Democrats who wanted someone other than Nancy Pelosi as minority leader, the Democrats, in the words of Margaret Thatcher, "are not for turning."
Contrast Democratic Party talk now, or lack of it, with 2008. When the left won, their rhetoric was all about "change has come." The verbiage crescendoed with exalted talk of imposing their agenda, elections having consequences, and compromise mandating conservative surrender, white flag in hand, to the liberal creed. Triumphal talk of "we are the people we've been waiting for" and "this is our time ... when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal" was all the rage when Democrats took Washington by storm. But the story changed dramatically a few weeks ago when liberals lost and conservatives won. As a result, we now get a peek behind the curtain at the quickly sewn fig leaves of liberal defeat.
Here then are the top nine excuses I have heard for the Democratic Party's losses in the 2010 elections -- justifications we are going to hear in abundance of over the next two years. So write 'em down now and refer back to them as often as needed.
Excuse #9. Talk Radio did us wrong. Even in victory, Barney Frank lambasted talk radio, saying that "right-wing media talk show hosts targeted me." Since the election, Rush Limbaugh has been named by Democrats from the House floor, on liberal talk shows, by Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, and by many others as what is wrong with America. A local lefty letter-writer to my hometown newspaper condemned the "lie[s] spread by mean-spirited talk show entertainers" that show the power of "false and misleading information." Look for the "fairness doctrine" to be revived as a debating point, though the left has less chance to reimpose it than when they ran the U.S. House. The political left currently has no answer to conservative talk radio, which has a great advantage, namely at circumventing the liberal filter the mainstream media places on the news.
Excuse #8. Conservatives must compromise now. After every election liberals lose, the message is the same, and it is parroted by their friends in the mainstream press. "This election is evidence that the American people want Republicans and Democrats to work together." Huh? Where did they get this from? Gallup tells us that 42% of Americans call themselves conservative and 20% liberal. Why any conservative would want to compromise with a liberal while sporting a two-to-one advantage is beyond me. That is like a football team leading 42-20 at halftime and agreeing to their opponent's offer to "call it a tie." So after a sweeping conservative victory, we are supposed to believe that the message is "compromise"? The Democrats jammed through ObamaCare, bailouts, stimulus legislation, and all kinds of other pieces of hefty lefty dogma, without any compromise with Republicans, and now that the voters have rejected their agenda, they want conservatives to compromise? President Obama said it to Republicans after 2008. "I won." Conclusion? Obama got to dictate the agenda, and so he did. Now conservatives can say back to him, "We won."
Excuse #7. It's not my fault. John F. Kennedy said it. "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan." By that standard, Nancy Pelosi is now a motherless child. "We didn't lose the election because of me," she stated. "Our members do not accept that." Why don't they? Because if they did, liberal Democrats would have to change course, something not possible by their DNA. After the election, President Obama himself made appropriate noises about his "shellacking," but when pestered by the media in his post-election news conference about changing course, he appeared to be the only one in the room unwilling to accept the voters' message and actually do something about it. Bill Clinton saved his presidency by compromising over welfare reform, proclaiming that "the era of big government is over" in 1994, when Republicans took the House of Representatives. But Obama is a lefty true believer who seems incapable of following suit.
Excuse #6. Voters are stupid. Surely one of Obama's top political gaffes was when he said at a Democratic fundraiser, "Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we are hardwired not to always think clearly when we are scared." This is a cleaned up version of the much-maligned and haughty "bitter clingers" comment during his election run. Did anyone think Obama included himself among those "not thinking clearly"? No, it is the people "who don't get me and my programs." This kind of thinking is not new among Democrats. Just ask Al Gore, who attempted to put science to a vote in the global warming debate only to finally realize that science advances by disagreement rather than a show of hands. This week, even Gore admitted that his support for corn-based ethanol in 2000 was more about politics than science.
Excuse #5. The conservative victory was purely emotional. This card has been played frequently since Peter Jennings of ABC characterized the 1994 Republican congressional victory as voters "throwing a temper-tantrum." This was regurgitated by liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on September 3, 2010, when he condemned "the spoiled-brat American electorate ... the nation demands the impossible: quick, painless solutions to long-term structural problems." In fact, what the electorate recognized quickly was a hard left Democratic leadership taking the country in the wrong direction by proposing bad solutions that not only would not work, but would hamstring our economy, increase our debt, and endanger America's future.
Excuse #4. There is too much money in politics. The left was shocked by the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which knocked the stuffing out of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation and restored our constitutional right to organize and speak out on the issues. But in the 2010 election, there was also no indication that money wins elections. Two of the biggest spenders, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, lost in California. Rick Scott outspent Alex Sink by tens of millions in the Florida governor's race yet barely won by one point. Megabucks Governor John Corzine lost to Chris Christie in New Jersey in 2009. The real fear of Democrats is that responsive, free Americans will be able to quickly organize, give money, and oppose them. McCain-Feingold turned out to be nothing more than an incumbent reelection tool. The politicians loved it, which is why it didn't smell right to most Americans. The media continually decries the money spent in politics, when in fact the total amount spent in every election cycle is no more than the assets contained in one medium-sized mutual fund.
Excuse #3. This was the nastiest campaign ever. This one is used by many politicians, but Democrats major in it. Nancy Pelosi snapped, "How would your ratings be if $75 million were spent against you?" During the campaign, Democrats attacked the Chamber of Commerce for so-called "foreign contributions," which turned out to be a bogus accusation that made President Obama look petty and uninformed. We all remember the "stolen election" controversy in Florida 2000, when it was Al Gore himself who wanted to pick and choose the counties recounted -- a breach of Florida election law. Leftists often do what they accuse their opponents of doing. The Democrat opponents of Senator-elect Rand Paul and Congressman-elect Daniel Webster of Florida attempted over-the-top personal and religiously based attacks in the final days of the campaign which backfired badly. Furthermore, when anyone says that "this was the nastiest campaign in human history," they should read what Jefferson and Adams said about each other in 1800. Northern newspapers claimed the election of Jefferson would lead to "teachings of murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest." Today's rhetoric pales in comparison.
Excuse #2. We lost because we didn't get our message out. In an interview with Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes," President Obama said, "Making an argument people can understand ... I think we haven't always been successful at that. And I take personal responsibility for that." In October, Pennsylvania Governor Democrat Ed Rendell told Fox News that "the message hasn't been getting out clearly and correctly since almost the beginning of the Obama administration." Really? Despite the endless speeches, campaign-style events, and teleprompter sightings? In September, the perpetually overbearing John Kerry said, "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth of what's happening." He went on to say that "they [the voters] are not smart enough." Has anyone told these Democrat leaders that insulting American voters is pathway number #1 to political oblivion? Do they understand that every successful politician unswervingly praises the wisdom of the American people? Can any political party be this tone-deaf?
Excuse #1. Conservatives did not tell the truth about us. The left tells us that when the vast right-wing conspiracy did talk about them, it was all distortions and lies. Leaving aside that liberals currently dominate both Houses of Congress, the presidency, the major television networks, the newspapers, and the vast "netroots" blogosphere, I find it hilarious that the left insists that "the truth" was somehow hidden under a bushel basket. Most liberals have spent half their lives opposing anyone who claims to know the truth as deranged, judgmental, or un-America and the other half telling us there is no such thing as truth. This relativist mantra becomes imperative for liberals when conservatives win elections because the public must not be allowed to conclude that liberals are off-base. That is also why you are going to hear a lot of "can't we all just get along" nonsense out of scared lefties for the foreseeable future. However, I will grant that the political left is absolutist on one aspect of the truth: that everyone at all times and in all places tell the truth about them. And where, pray tell, do you find this "truth"? It is normally handed down during fawning campaigns with Greek columns in the background attended by loyal followers and recorded for posterity by an approving mainstream media. Other than that, they tell us, the truth be damned.
It should be an exciting next two years in politics. It will be a productive period if we constantly recall how the liberal mind works and its inevitable cultural and political carnage.
Jay Haug is a freelance writer living in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.