There’s a modest populist surge out there, as evidenced by the Tea Party and various other phenomena. But, as always, most Americans are only peripherally interested in politics. Right now, Obama is rather unpopular. Not wildly unpopular, as his predecessor was, but nonetheless one with higher disapproval than approval numbers. That’s hardly unprecedented for new presidents trying to enact major social changes in a down economy. See Reagan, Ronald and Clinton, Bill.
Maybe Obama will read a Brown win as a signal to slow down and push through a more modest bill. Or maybe he’ll indeed “take a combative turn.” The people will get a chance to send him another signal in November and again two years hence. I haven’t the slightest clue as to what the mood will be then.
But Andrew should know better than to read so much into a single election, much less a single race. Too many read Bush’s re-election in 2004 as the beginning of some sort of permanent majority; that faded within months and he got a shellacking in 2006. Too many read some sort of sea change into Obama’s win fourteen months ago. The public is fickle and interested mostly in results.
The test of nihilism is the opposition party's alternative. What is the alternative to the current health insurance reform bill? Nada. What is their plan for cutting the deficit? Nada. Do they really think that fialing to bail ut the banks or provide any stimulus would have brought unemployment down? Mark Thompson piles on:
The only thing I’d add is that bemoaning the possible death of this health care reform bill as “nihilist” is deeply unfair to the many people who really, honestly do believe that the bills that have been passed in the House and, especially, the Senate actively make matters worse in this country for any number of reasons. It is increasingly frustrating to me that, for many supporters of Obama, any belief that the existing health care reform bills will do more harm than good is automatically written off as being in bad faith or, as it were, “nihilistic.”
As I have written there are many good faith objections to this health reform bill. But Brown supports exactly the same kind of bill in his own state and has offered nothing by way of an alternative on a national scale. That's why it's nihilistic. When you wage a war on a president for being pro-government, and you are part of a party that has expanded government beyond measure, when you campaign on debt reduction and yet prose measures to increase the debt ... what else can you call it?
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