Time Cover Story: 2006 Elections End Reagan’s Conservative Revolution

In the aftermath of the 2006 elections, Time magazine's Joe Klein has declared that the Democrat takeover of Congress may signal "the end of the conservative pendulum swing that began with Ronald Reagan's revolution."

Certainly, we expect this kind of errant speculation without the use of facts or historical reference from a shameless shill like New York Times’ propagandist Paul Krugman as reported by NewsBusters on Saturday. However, for Joe Klein to make such early prognostications, and for Time magazine to make this its cover story, bordered on total irresponsibility and yellow journalism.

But there it was in an article titled “The Realists Take Charge; The election whupping marked the end of George W. Bush's radical experiment in partisan government - and a plea for politicians to get serious about solving problems” (subscription required, CNN.com summary here, hat tip to NB reader Allanf, and emphasis mine throughout):

This was a big deal. Certainly, it was the end of George W. Bush's radical experiment in partisan governance. It might have been even bigger than that: the end of the conservative pendulum swing that began with Ronald Reagan's revolution. Not only did the Democrats lay a robust whupping on the Republicans in the midterm elections, but—far worse—the President was forced into a tacit acknowledgment that the defining policy of his Administration, the war in Iraq, was failing.

Without giving too much away – stay tuned for an article on this very subject likely to be published by The American Thinker Monday – a thorough analysis of midterm elections in a president's second term over the past seven decades indicated that what happened last Tuesday is quite common in American history, and carries with it virtually no foreshadowing of what transpires in immediately subsequent elections. And, there was no conclusive evidence that Congressional changes of power in such elections are an indication of a shift in the political ideology of the country.

Yet, much like Krugman, Klein wasn’t interested in precedent or history; he was interested in advancing an outcome that fits his agenda. Almost as disgraceful was his depiction of the winners as realists: “In fact, if there was a common strand in last week's Democratic victories and Republican defeats, it was the ascendancy of realists. The architects of the Democratic victory, Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, had calculated with cold-eyed efficiency which candidates the party would support, regardless of the extent of their orthodoxy.”

However, the next item indicated what realism means to someone like Klein: “First, there is the muscular realism of the Democrats who ran the election campaigns, Schumer and Emanuel. They chose their candidates on pragmatism, not principle.” This was quite telling, as it showed that Klein wasn’t interested in what candidates stood for, but only if they could win. This nicely set up a chink in Klein’s premise that this election represented the end of conservatism: “Yes, many of the winners tended to be moderates, but that's because this was an election, especially on the House side, waged in moderate districts.”

Now, Joe, if this election represented the end of conservatism, why did the Democrats have to run more conservative candidates to win? Isn’t that an oxymoron? As such, couldn’t the argument be just as easily made that this represented the end of extreme liberal ideology in the Democrat Party? Sadly, this wasn’t a premise that Klein was willing to explore.

Yet, there was another chink in Klein’s theme: “The question now is whether ‘winning’ means blocking the president or demonstrating the ability to govern. It probably means a little of both, but I suspect the Democrats will be better served by proving they have the maturity to do the latter.”

But Joe, let’s assume that the Democrats don't follow through with what they are better served by, and much as they have done in the past fourteen years, they move back to the left, and just try to obstruct the President for the next two years. Then, this election will have absolutely no long-range impact on conservatism at all, correct?

With that in mind, it is quite clear that Klein’s premise is just wishful thinking on his part, and is totally devoid of historical reference or a thorough understanding of recent Democrat behavior. As such, rather than making this Time's post-election cover story, this should have been sent to the North Pole as part of Klein’s Christmas list for Santa.

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Noel Sheppard's picture