After Huge Dem Loss, Bitter NYT Columnists Ponder 'Broken Politics,' Sabotage' by Victorious GOP

November 8th, 2014 7:46 AM

The New York Times liberal columnists (redundant?), given a night to marinade in the bitterness of enormous losses on every level of government for the Democrats, responded with various shades of bile, bias, and unconvincing happy talk.

The purportedly cross-party conversation between moderate David Brooks and liberal Gail Collins in "The Republican Party in Triumph" shows the thrust of the paper's idea of "balance" in miniature, with alleged conservative sympathizer Brooks backhandedly praising the current Republican crop of politicians for having "detoxified their brand. Four years ago they seemed scary and extreme to a lot of people....I think we’ve left the Sarah Palin phase...."

Predictably, Collins failed to hold up her end by criticizing Democrats, pointing instead to newly elected Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa as "downright scary."

On her own, Collins contributed cheers for Democrats, "Always Look on the Bright Side" to Friday's paper.

Our topic for today is: looking on the post-election bright side.

The polling places hadn’t even opened before the Senate’s right-wing firebrand, Ted Cruz, was demanding that the majority-leader in-waiting, Mitch McConnell, take a hard line against President Obama or risk losing his new job. Cruz is from Texas, and he wants to recreate the Alamo, if you can imagine Obamacare in disguise as the Mexican Army.

Think of that as a plus. The one thing McConnell and his supporters dislike more than the Democratic agenda is Ted Cruz. It could be an important bonding opportunity. President Obama has never spent much time with the Republican leadership, but now you can sort of imagine them sitting around, sipping drinks and making fun of what Cruz said on Fox News.

Collins celebrated one development on the state level -- abortion:

Let’s try one more positive interpretation of what the election has wrought: There’s a school of thought that believes Tuesday was actually a great day for reproductive rights. Let me take you through it.

The front lines of the anti-abortion movement belong to the “personhood” people, who strive to give constitutional rights and protections to the “preborn” from the moment of conception. When Americans are confronted with this idea, they quickly come to hate it. Personhood amendments have been defeated wherever they pop up, including Mississippi. This year, one was rejected in Colorado for the third time, by around 65 percent to 35 percent. A personhood amendment lost in North Dakota, 64 percent to 36 percent. In addition, the state senator who was its major sponsor lost her re-election bid, as did one of the measure’s more outspoken House supporters.

Yet to arrive at that happy conclusion that it was a "choice" election, Collins had to skip over losses by "abortion Barbie" Wendy Davis in Texas and Sandra Fluke in California.

And a predictable Nicholas Kristof column conveniently lamented "Americas Broken Politics" after a big Republican win. (Notice how democracy is doing just fine in the Times when Democrats win presidential elections?)

Let’s face it: The American political system is broken.

The midterm elections were a stinging repudiation of President Obama, but Republicans should also feel chastened: A poll last year found Congress less popular than cockroaches.

So congratulations to those members celebrating election victories. But our democratic institutions are in trouble when they can’t outpoll cockroaches. Which didn’t even campaign.

Kristof advanced a truly terrible measuring stick, equating the good of the country with the amount of laws it has:

Maybe we taxpayers could save money by paying members of Congress not by salary but by the piece, so much for each enacted law?)

Kristof, like Collins, found liberal bright spots on the state level:

One bright spot in the midterms was voter action on ballot measures. They did actually break the gridlock. Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana in some situations. Five states supported an increase in the minimum wage. Washington State approved universal background checks for gun purchases. California reduced prison sentences.

And not even humbling defeat could crack the indestructible self-satisfaction of Paul Krugman, Nobel-winning economist turned Democratic hack, in Friday's "Triumph of the Wrong," which came close to labeling Republicans in Congress unpatriotic for opposing Obama, saying they had stopped just short of sabotage in hamstringing the president's agenda.

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet midterms to men of understanding. Or as I put it on the eve of another Republican Party sweep, politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday.


So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.

After slamming Republicans on economics, opposition to Obama-care, and inaction on climate change, where he feared "these people will be in a position to block action for years to come, quite possibly pushing us past the point of no return."

But if Republicans have been so completely wrong about everything, why did voters give them such a big victory?

Part of the answer is that leading Republicans managed to mask their true positions. Perhaps most notably, Senator Mitch McConnell, the incoming majority leader, managed to convey the completely false impression that Kentucky could retain its impressive gains in health coverage even if Obamacare were repealed.

But the biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy. From Day 1 of the Obama administration, Mr. McConnell and his colleagues have done everything they could to undermine effective policy, in particular blocking every effort to do the obvious thing -- boost infrastructure spending -- in a time of low interest rates and high unemployment.

Perhaps most bitter of all was Timothy Egan, liberal reporter turned leftist columnist, in Thursday's "The Big Sleep," who pointed to late night host David Letterman to make his political point.

Maybe it’s best to close your eyes and fall into a Rip Van Winkle slumber for the next two years. The party that has refused to govern for half a decade and ran a substance-free campaign will now play at governing and not take up anything of substance.

Of course there will be votes, investigations and intrigue. Having worked tirelessly to make the Senate inert, Mitch McConnell now says he wants it to be relevant again. The man most likely to head the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, would flunk a high school science class. He claims climate change is a huge hoax. The new senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst, vowed to bring at least one thing to the capital. “I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson 9 millimeter and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” she cooed.

Did you vote for that? No, you voted against President Obama. Why? David Letterman had the best line of the campaign. “Take a look at this: Gas under $3 a gallon -- gas under $3 a gallon! Unemployment under 6 percent -- who ever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”

For good measure, Egan accused the GOP of anti-black discrimination by showing Strange New Respect for libertarian Sen. Rand Paul.

Take Senator Rand Paul, who always manages to look like a guy who just woke up from a long nap and missed a button on his shirt. Sure, he has some of his kooky father’s baggage, the 18th-century view of 21st-century issues. But of late, Paul’s been trying a little outreach beyond the Republican base of old white Southerners. He thinks our prisons shouldn’t be stuffed with drug offenders, predominantly black. He says Republicans should not be passing laws making it harder for the poor, minorities and students to vote. And he says his party’s brand “sucks” -- his word -- in many, many parts of the country.

All of this will get him nowhere, and be replayed in attacks ads, when the Republican presidential primary moves to its whitest of bastions in the South.