Good analysis by Jim Geraghty
by Jim Geraghty
And Now, the Most Depressing Morning Jolt Ever
I wish I could point to silver linings, reasons for optimism, areas to build in the future, and so on. But I’m not going to sugarcoat it: This is a much, much, much tougher loss than 2008.
Looking back, we could justify 2008 to ourselves: the economic meltdown, fatigue of eight years of George W. Bush. The McCain campaign had a slew of problems, and the opposition promised America a chance to make history with the first African-American president. They had hope and change; we had an elderly vet who was never an economics-focused guy at a time when the economy was collapsing.
In 2010, we saw epic Republican gains in that smaller turnout traditional to a midterm election, and we persuaded ourselves — I certainly persuaded myself — that 2008 was a historical anomaly, a confluence of factors that created a perfect storm for Obama and the Democrats. Things would be set right.
In 2008, Obama had been elected on the promise of things to come. In 2012, he would be judged on his record.
The American people looked at that record and said, “Eh, looks pretty good, four more years of that.”
After Fast and Furious. And Benghazi. And the stimulus. And Solyndra. And Obamacare.
There will be a lot of finger-pointing at Mitt Romney, but I’m not so sure that he ran that bad a campaign. Certainly, not many folks were making that argument after the first debate. I suspect we’ll hear a lot of “Romney was a terrible candidate” talk in the coming days and weeks, but if you’re saying that, get specific. He focused on the preeminent issue on voters’ minds, and was winning on that issue. He won independents, according to the exit polls (more on this below).
Are we really going to look at the Ohio numbers and conclude that the failure to support the auto bailout was what crushed him? The auto bailout?
Ross Douthat offered this grim assessment: “Lesson of this election is always bail out, never touch entitlements.”
Phil Klein noted that the exit polls indicated Romney won voters 65 and older by 11 percentage points. So one could argue that the Ryan reform proposals weren’t quite as politically difficult to sell as some warned, but . . . the Romney-Ryan campaign offered serious reform of runaway entitlement programs. And the American people — or at least enough people in enough states adding up to more than 270 electoral votes — rejected it.
I feel a bit like when Jerry Brown beat Meg Whitman out in California: If you really think that the guy with the tired promises of spending more and taxing more is really going to save you, I can’t help you.
The American people voted Tuesday; reality votes in the weeks and months to come. The markets will take into account the fact that we’re likely to see similar gridlock in Congress for at least the next two years. The fiscal cliff and sequestration will have to be dealt with in one way or the other. Those who set the national credit rating will have to contemplate whether the outlook warrants another downgrade. The ticking time bomb of our entitlement programs will show less and less time before detonation. Taxes are probably going to go up.
Oh, and the world, full of those seeking a weaker America, may become a more dangerous place. You may see those hostile to our values testing their luck.