Make no mistake about it, these $4 billion, low turn-out midterms were an election of destiny. For eight years, the momentum of American history has been with the Democrats, but they never had the nerve, the brains, the guts or the plain and simple wit to do anything with it.
Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid had the opportunity to remake the coming era of American political history in a new constructive image. But they didn’t even know where to start.
President Obama arguably deserves less blame than the other two. Judged by his ludicrously inept predecessor, his first six years in office haven’t been at all bad. Manufacturing industry is recovering, domestic energy is booming thanks to the old heavy industry miracle of the fracking revolution, the national debt is finally down below the catastrophic level George W. Bush left it in January 2009 and there is finally comprehensive universal health care – or sort of at long last.
Also, the president so far has rightly listened to his generals and resisted the sneer and yelps of the armchair strategists and physical cowards on the Sunday morning talks shows –— yes, we all know who they are — to send U.S. ground troops charging into Libya, or Syria or Iraq.
(Sen. John McCain is certainly no coward, but he remains challenged in the brains and common sense department: The American people are manifestly NOT all Syrians, or all Libyans, or all Iraqis or all Ukrainians now. The world is full of wars we should not be rashly charging into. And Barack Obama, flanked by Secretaries John Kerry at State and Chuck Hagel at Defense is still our best bet to stay out of them.)
But the broader picture is clear. Obama and the Dems have blown it. The Dems remain locked into running a ruinous Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2016. She has been in the public limelight too relentlessly too often, for too long. And her political timing and public style has always had the grace and elegance of a broken-down Abrams tank.
By contrast, Jeb Bush has been out of the public eye sensibly just long enough. He is tanned, rested and ready. The Republicans are finally reining in their Tea Party clowns after the endless “True Conservative” fiasco candidates in the 2008 and 2012 primary campaigns — as many and as awful as the parade of Washington Redskins quarterbacks over the past 20 years.
Rand Paul will be the dream ticket vice presidential candidate to rein in the screaming Rush Limbaugh right. He has the street smarts and the skills. And like Fred Astaire, he will make all his partners, including Jeb, look good There are many other reasons Hillary will cement her Gen. Joseph Hooker reputation in political haplessness and chaotic management when the 2016 election comes around, and we will explore them in later posts.
But for now the bottom line is simple. After six responsible, decent years of solid effort and underestimated, unappreciated real progress across a wide range of fields, Barack Obama has shot his political bolt. History will treat him far better than the uber-liberal “Kumbaya”-singing romantics of the ridiculous left or the remorseless, screaming haters of the extreme right are doing now. But politically, he is done.
It was the Democrats’ victory in the 2006 midterm elections, as I predicted in my United Press International columns at the time that marked the inevitable toppling of the George W. Bush-Karl Rove regime in the 2008 presidential elections. Eight years on, the GOP’s capture of the Senate and its strong showing in so many other races, most notably Virginia’s Senate race that signs and seals the fate of the Dems in 2016.
The hard facts are these: In 1836, President Andrew Jackson’s clout and popularity were still so tremendous that he was able sweep his chosen heir, Martin Van Buren into the White House after him.
That was 178 years ago. Yet since then only two, two! Twice elected (or more) presidents have been able to ensure that a president of their own party followed them into the White House. And those two presidents were the far from inconsiderable: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, and in terms of his popularity, charisma and sheer mythical standing, President Obama, decent, responsible and steady though he truly is, is certainly no FDR or Gipper.
In fact Obama’s economic record wasn’t half bad. He made serious progress dealing with economic and financial structural catastrophes that he inherited from his two twice-elected predecessors that he was never given credit for, and he achieved universal health care, flawed though it is, against universal odds.
Far from bankrupting the United States — that Goebbels class Big Lie — Barack Obama has so far brought the country to a far better financial standing than he inherited. On his watch and with his blessing, Congress also passed the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which undid at least part of the catastrophic damage that the witless 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act inflicted on the American people and their financial system.
But as a leader, visionary and — most of all — fighter, the president fell badly at the last and greatest fence of his eight year steeplechase. The ball is in the Republicans’ camp now. With the exception of Rand Paul, there is no sign that any of them are looking for the new directions that the Republic so desperately needs, rather than the hoary old clichés that have long since run their course. But that’s a problem for the GOP.
The Clinton-Reid-Pelosi Dems are dead and gone. They had their chance and blew it. They’re over. Let them go.
Martin Sieff is a former senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times and former Managing Editor, International Affairs for United Press International. Mr. Sieff is the author of “That Should Still Be Us: How Thomas Friedman’s Flat World Myths Are Keeping Us Flat on Our Backs” (Wiley 2012) and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East” (Regnery, 2008). He has received three Pulitzer Prize nominations for international reporting.