This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, May 25, 2011.
In New York, last night, in the heavily Republican 26th Congressional District, a Democrat has won by six points. Admittedly, this seat had been held by the Republican Congressman who sent cell phone photos of himself flexing , shirtless, to women outside of his family-value marriage, and even the most allegedly conservative voters might have fear of hypocrisy risen too high and so punished the local power party, but that would be crediting those voters with too much.
No, what won the election was the fear that their particular socialist protection - specifically Medicare - was under threat from the GOP and its front man, Congressman Paul Ryan. Behind that was the fear of privatization of Social Security. A voter can make the easy connection between the Republicans who have wanted to privatize Social Security by turning it over to the pros. But not a few realize that their fall back for old age might well have been invested in Lehman Brothers accounts had the Republicans had their way. And, you can bet those pros would point out if they failed, they'd be destroying the financial security of all those who turned their social security over to unregulated bankrupt firms. They'd have the government blackmailed.
The Democrats have made the choice to focus on the GOP's support for Congressman Paul Ryan's budget which the GOP has championed, at least till recent polls showed it was unpopular. Now, they hedge and lie when cornered about their previous statements. This was the case in the New York 26th, and for Democrats to win it does not auger well for any GOP hopes of legislative or election success next year.
I credit much of that to the perception that Obama, having efficiently and with undoubted political courage killed Osama Bin Laden, is back and unbeatable. Absent a huge gaffe - which Obama never makes - or catastrophe - which he never shirks from facing - I think that true. The nation's first black president is on a roll, and he's done it by doing what every president of my lifetime avoided. The man not only touches political third rails, he plays croquet with them and gets recharged for action by the contact. Obama is a gift because he can talk about anything in a way that seems both objective, sane, and necessary. A patriotic political structure would take advantage of this moderate but motivated and competent President to get necessary things done.
But, no. I blame the GOP, mostly, but the Democrats jump up and down and focus exclusively on winning next year's elections by mining the same issues that gave them the win last night. They're going to terrify the easily terrified and not well-read voters that the evil GOP is going to take away their Medicare. And that will be about the depth of the arguments.
But the Republicans are not totally wrong, here. These entitlement programs are not supportable in current form absent a huge and prolonged economic revival, and with our longer lives they need to be adjusted. They're not necessary in their vast range, either, nor devoid of fat and corruption. It needs to be faced, and soon. The Democrats, if they were responsible, would need to face bravely into the wind and both inform and debate the problems with equally patriotic Republicans. But neither will, because they want to win the elections only.
But hasn't Obama already built half the bridge towards the Paul Ryan positions which, by the way, are as hypocritical and dubious as any primarily political position paper? Ryan, however, deserves Democratic regard for even broaching the subject in written form, for even remotely considering it, because he had to know there would be political blow back of the sort that shivers weather bureaus in our mid-west today.
As annoying as it is to libertarians and Republicans and the Tea Party, the only plausible source for solution and person to get it done - to get people to reduce their current expectations - is Barrack Hussein Obama, who slowly built a competent administration for production and is now gaining speed. He is fully capable of instilling necessity over electoral want in the Democrats, and to move large sections of the electorate towards positions they need to hold and live with.I don't think enough people appreciate this remarkable concurrence of time and president. The Democrats will be too excited and the Republicans too bitter to make the overtures. I'm willing to bet Obama will be the one to make the moves as part of his own campaign. He's like that.