Monday, October 18, 2010
October 18th, 2010
The Democratic Prospects For 2012 Through Rosey Colored Glasses
The over/under on the midterms for Congress is, as of today, a likely loss of 50 seats by the Democratic majority. That's 11 more than the GOP need to take control of Congress. It's a very large shift even for an off-year electon where the out-party traditionally picks up seats.
Reliable pollsters say it's possible the Republican may even pick up as many as 70 seats. And should they merely pick up 40 seats on election day, falling far short of prognostications, the national media will nonetheless paint this as an epochal defeat for the Democrats, for this administration, for health care, liberals and progressives of all-stripes.
In the short-term we will be asked to believe the sky is falling, or has fallen, that the Tea Party has completely altered the political landscape, and that Barack Obama is fated to be a one-term President.
Okay. Not so fast. Rationally it simply does not add up.
So, in coming weeks, when you feel an anxiety attack coming on, when you begin to wonder what again is wrong with this nutty nation of ours, stop and take several deep breaths.
Then consider the actual political landscape and the inevitable swings and over-reaches that occur. Because, in fact, objectively, prospects for 2012 (even if the Republicans manage to exceed a netgain of 50 seats) will remain rather good. Maybe even better than good.
First off, remember, out-parties almost never nominate candidates for President from their ideological base EXCEPT in years where they stand little chance of winning. (E.g., Barry Goldwater in 1964).
However, 2012 might prove the exception. Like Reagan in 1980 who was the exception to prove the rule, a candidate who had nearly ousted the incumbent President, Ford, in 1976, and bowed out relatively gracefully after, Reagan was owed the nomination. But there don't appear to be any Reagans out there right now.
Additionally, there are a number of developments with probabilities that have to be graded as better-than-even that will make a Republican nominee's prospects difficult. (Better-than-even events listed in red)
1) An improving economy. Signs are that as low as we have gone and as uneven as it has been, continued growth, though slow, decreasing unemployment numbers and slight inflation (rather than the dreaded 'deflation') are the most likely conditions the next 24 months. And it is all about the economy. Period. A positive directionality will favor the party in power.
2) The Republican takeover of the House will produce vivid scenes of Republican-led legislative chaos and internecine bloodletting. Boehner's leadership will see a challenge. Someone has to introduce a repeal of Heathcare. There will be other Angles, O'Donnells, Bachmanns and the '94 Contract On America Congress will probably look like a well-ordered Weimar rally by comparison. No one will be able to ride herd on these cats.
3) Talks with the Taliban. Likely? Maybe not. But it's in the air, and how would that fact coupled with a careful, cautious, orderly draw down of troops in Afghanistan beginning in July of 2011 look?
4) The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with the blessings of the Joint Chiefs. You think not?
The commission reports in December. I bet it will at worst merely be equivocal, favoring the repeal and the open service of gays and lesbians in the military.
5) The Obama Deficit Reduction Commission also is due to report in December. It will lead to deficit proposals and legislation.
6) How about instead of another terrorist attack on American soil, or in Europe, something slightly unexpected -- the capture or killing of Bin Ladin? Impossible?
No matter the fine-grain outcomes, the likelihood is that January, 2012, when the first Presidential Primaries roll around chances are Obama's re-election won't appear certain, but good enough to guarantee a contentious, expensive, divisive battle between the Republican establishment (Mitt Romney probably backed by Glenn Beck) and the insurgent Tea Partiers, hopefully led by Sarah Palin. That will be a knife-fight that should make Obama-Clinton look like a love-in.
This battle royale, even if it sucks most of the oxygen out of the media air, won't be stealing fire from a weak, crowded field of hopefuls struggling for attention. Like in '08. It will be backstopped by the sight of a confident, competent leader dealing with the day-to-day business of governing this lunatic asylum we call a country.
Don't be too quick to bet against President Barack O'Xanax in that scenario whatever the noise is now.