Handling Adversity


A discussion unfolds in the left half of the blogosphere, as Mother Jones's Kevin Drum asks why Democrats fret over electoral setbacks:

Honest, to God, stuff like this just makes me want to scream. Why do Democrats panic so badly whenever they lose an election? Why run to the nearest reporter to spout idiocies about Obama not feeling middle class pain or not being an extrovert like Bill Clinton? Bill Clinton! For chrissake, I like and defend the guy, but he was an extrovert who felt people's pain and he lost 54 seats in the 1994 midterm. No one cared if he felt their pain. Likewise, no one cares if Obama feels their pain. They want jobs, not pursed lips and moist eyes.

And as Washington Monthly's Steve Benen appends:

In 1998, voters were unimpressed, to put it mildly, with the Republican crusade against Bill Clinton. In the midterms, voters sent a message -- in a historical rarity, the party that controlled the White House gained congressional seats. It was a stinging rebuke of the GOP and its excesses, and yet, House Republicans responded by impeaching the president anyway. In fact, they did so quickly, ramming impeachment through the chamber before newly-elected lawmakers could take office. ...

But Dems just don't seem to operate this way, and in the wake of midterm setbacks -- which were bad, but could have been worse -- their handling of adversity leaves much to be desired.

And, as long as appending is going on...

Republicans responded to the losses of 2006 and 2008 by banding together and maintaining party unity in both the House and Senate. After 2006, Republicans still had the White House, and there was little reason to work with the new Democratic majority, which seemed intent on pushing an agenda that was the inverse of Bush, and on making the president look bad for vetoing things like expanded health care funding for kids.

After 2008, the GOP was in shambles, but general agreement emerged that the stimulus was too big and the auto-industry takeover was bad. As the Tea Party gained steam and the ideological purists came to dominate the GOP, Republicans had assumed a stop-Obama-at-all-costs posture, which they maintained with impressive rigidity, rallying every Republican (except Louisiana's Joseph Cao) to vote against the stimulus, health care and other big Democratic bills.

The Democratic caucus is actually well positioned to mimic the GOP playbook, as some Democrats seem to want. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is renowned for keeping power in her office and whipping the caucus into unity, and now she's expected to lead the Democrats again in the minority.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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