--President Obama, 10.16.10
Micky Kaus, in Newsweek, notes how close Obama’s words are to his most disastrous comment from the 2008 campaign, when he said Pennsylvanians “cling to guns and God” out of fear. Kaus rightly makes the comparison—Obama in two elections warning to watch out for voters who are afraid, and twice slighting voters in the process. But what gets my attention is Obama’s pronouncement that “facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning.”
[Picture: Democratic House Speaker John Nance Garner (1931-33), later (1933-41) Franklin Roosevelt’s vice president.] Since 1930, a period of 80 (“four score”) years, the Democratic thinking party, the one with the brains and with “facts and science and argument” on its side, has not only dominated the intellectual life of America, it has with few exceptions controlled the U.S. House of Representatives, “the people’s chamber“.
Even when our intellectuals/Democratic Party failed to control the White House or the Senate, it was comforting for them to know the House remained Democratic. That meant the people symbolically endorsed leadership by their betters, Democrats steeped in “facts and science and argument.” In 1946, when post-war hyperinflation and related strikes for higher wages swept the country, and in 1952, when the nation elected Eisenhower and Republicans after Democrats gave us the Korean War and (again) inflation, the House did pass briefly out of Democratic hands. But both times, Democrats were back in control within two years.
The only major break in Democratic domination of the “people’s chamber” occurred from 1994 to 2006. Republicans argued that as liberal intellectuals gained full control over the Democratic Party, the people responded by voting Republican six successive times. The national elite, led by the media, went all-out to disprove any assertion that the people had left Democrats behind; they saw loss of the House as a temporary aberration. ABC anchor Peter Jennings said of the 1994 GOP take-over of Congress, “The voters had a temper tantrum last week... Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old."
As I have written, after the 1994 election and the Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich-led shut-down of government in December 1995, the media dropped their “plague on both your houses” approach to persons in power. Media worked to change the landscape back to "normal" Democratic control by successively demonizing Republicans Gingrich, Impeachment Independent Counsel Ken Starr, and especially President George W. Bush over the next decade, succeeding when Democrats recaptured Congress in 2006. Democrats believe that in the aftermath of 9.11, Republicans delayed the rightful restoration of power to the party of “facts and science and argument” by demagoging “the war on terror” in both the 2002 and 2004 elections.
But underneath, the liberal/media elite do worry the national majority may no longer be with Democrats. Look at how Time's Joe Klein riles against the “classic American myth, perpetrated by Hollywood . . .with 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'", of the “inspired amateur” who “actually read[s] the bills he was about to vote on, then mak[es] up his own mind.” To Klein, Jimmy Stewart ("Mr. Smith") is “a lovely fantasy.” The reality is Republican senate candidate Christine O'Donnell of Delaware:
attractive, to some, because she doesn't know anything. She couldn't . . . ever be confused with a member of the elites; there is no way she could be confused with an above average high school student. Her ignorance. . . makes her authentic-- the holy grail of latter-day American politics: she's a real person, not like those phony politicians. In that sense, she—[along] with other Tea Party know-nothings--follow in the wake of our leading exemplar of ignorant authenticity, Sarah Palin.
Klein's article drips with condescension. We are witnessing the masses taking over from their betters, and he doesn't like it. Klein's rejects majority rule replacing rule by a superior minority, the same elite rule justification for holding power we earlier found "Slate's" Jacob Weisberg defending. To Klein,"There is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts. It is a society that no longer takes itself seriously."
More insults aimed at both Republicans and the population supporting them.
Going into this election, the question before us seems clear. Are we better off when big government, controlled by an elite blessed with “facts and science and argument,” gathers our resources and makes the decisions for the rest of us that create or don't create jobs? The answer seems equally clear: "No." Time for the people to reclaim their chamber.