New Yorker Editor Provides Cover for Obama's Hollowing of Democratic Party

November 24th, 2016 10:33 AM

Even on his way out the door, they can't get off their bended knee.

The last eight years have provided countless examples of media fawning over President Obama -- make that last dozen years, since his coming-out party at the Democrats' national convention in Boston.

Ingrained habits are hard to break, especially among the besotted, and Obama leaves office secure in the knowledge that his most devoted followers -- the denizens of the media corridor extending from Boston to DC -- remain in his thrall.

One of the foremost practitioners of Obama hagiography is New Yorker editor David Remnick, who spent several days with Obama before and after the election for a lengthy piece published in the Nov. 28 issue of the magazine. Remnick spoke with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on her show Monday night and made some revealing observations --

MADDOW: You say right at the outset of this long piece that the president and his team had no plan for Trump winning.

REMNICK: No, they didn't expect it any more than you did or I did. They read the same numbers, read the same polls, the political director -- I must say though, I was traveling on the plane with Obama to a rally in North Carolina the Friday before the election and he came back and I said are you feeling really confident, having heard all the numbers from the political director and the rest. And he looked at me and he said, nope. And then he, in that Obamian way he then explained why and then he hedged it and then he landed on something more optimistic and he said I'm cautiously optimistic. But he was not over the moon thinking that this was a done deal and it's quite known that the Obama people were, let's just say, questioning of why Hillary's people were not in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, and those turned out to be the death knell.

Alas, Clinton did not make a single appearance in Wisconsin during the general-election campaign. On the plus side, she somehow managed to see Hamilton three times and cries every time. Odd thing is, I don't recall Obama spending much time in Wisconsin either.

MADDOW: It's interesting because what we had heard from, sort of the most interesting reporting we had had before the election about what President Obama was going to do after the election is that he was going to work on this sort of deepening of the Democratic Party's base, going to be working on the redistricting problem that Democrats lost to the Republicans ...

REMNICK: Look, what he was going to do is sign a book contract for $15 million and rest for six months. These people that do these jobs are powerfully tired when they're finished and they find a way to rest and then at his leisure he's going to write a book and God willing it will be the first good presidential memoir in world history. (Maddow laughs), ever! They just, they don't exist! And he's a real writer.

The obvious exception to Remnick's claim -- Ulysses Grant's extraordinary memoirs, completed only days before he died of throat cancer and published by his friend Mark Twain. (Contrary to widespread belief, Twain was not Grant's ghost writer, according to Patrick J. Garrity at the Claremont Review of Books.)

REMNICK: And those plans go out the window with this because you don't have a Democratic Party leadership, what are we talking about? You have a 75-year-old powerful populist leader, Bernie Sanders. You've got Elizabeth Warren who's closing in herself, what, she's 68. So their chances of going again in four years are slender.

Let's not forget Joe Biden, 74, still kicking himself for not challenging Clinton in the primaries. 

REMNICK: And I asked (Obama), so what's the bench of the Democratic Party? Well, he said, Kamala Harris -- OK. Uhm, then he said, oh and there's that, uh, guy who's a Rhodes scholar and gay mayor of, uhm, South Bend, Ind., name didn't quite come to him. (chuckles) And then that was -- you know, you could see, this is a party that has, uhm, as they say in baseball, in a reconstruction year.

What those "in baseball" are more inclined to say, as opposed to those who conjure prose for the New Yorker, is that this will be a year for rebuilding, not reconstruction. Ball teams rebuild after a bad year, a pitcher's bum shoulder undergoes reconstruction.

Did you see where Remnick was heading -- "This is a party that has ..." -- before changing direction to invoke his rarefied metaphor? Since he didn't finish the sentence as intended, we're allowed to fill in the blank. Here's what I think Remnick was about to say but held off out of deference to Dear Leader -- This is a party that has been hollowed to its core.

That this is true is beyond dispute -- the raw numbers are staggering. As National Review editor Rich Lowry described it in a New York Post column headlined "Obama's main legacy: the collapse of the Democratic Party" --

His party has been devastated beneath him. It began in 2010, when Republicans took the House by winning 63 seats, the biggest pickup since 1948, and six seats in the Senate. In 2014, Republicans gained another 13 House seats and took control of the Senate. Democrats lost more than 900 state legislative seats in this period.

This was chalked up to the midterm effect, the product of a smaller, more Republican-leaning electorate in nonpresidential years. Well, on Tuesday night, the GOP won Senate races in blue states. It minimized losses in the House. It picked up more governorships, including in Vermont, and made striking gains from Kentucky to Connecticut.

All in a presidential year. The GOP controls the presidency, the US Senate and House, and roughly two-thirds of the country's governorships and state legislatures.The Democrats are now, judging by the scorecard of major offices, the nation's minority party.

The trauma of Clinton's shocking loss to Trump is still too raw for liberals to turn their reddened eyes to the most obvious suspect, even before Hillary, for their party's decimation -- its leader. It's not just fish that rot from the head.