Four years of a Democratically-controlled Congress, coupled with two years of the Obama administration, gave the American progressive movement more power than it had ever achieved before. Not Democrats, progressives. Democrats have had control of the White House and substantial majorities in both houses of Congress prior to 2008, but never with a party comprised of people tilted so far to the progressive side of the ledger. Thinking they had achieved what political strategist James Carville referred to as the beginning of a “40 year ascendancy,” they began implementing their agenda with little regard for public concern. On November 2nd, a concerned public thoroughly rejected them.
So what do far-left ideologues do when they have recently endured a clear-cut rejection of their ideology? Apparently a good number of them take to the airwaves and tell the American public–with smug certainty, no less–what motivates a madman. Facts, as demonstrated by progressives who have sought to tie the tragedy in Arizona to anything and everything conservative absent a shred of evidence, do not matter. Alleged shooter Jared Loughner has become the “vehicle du jour” for a progressive movement in utter denial of reality. It is a denial so profound that they would rather believe what happened on election day was a spasm of national insanity. One which would have been impossible without the likes of Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, et al., driving the public “over the edge.”
Yet it wasn’t a “racist” Tea Party movement which foisted a 2700-page health care bill and nearly a trillion dollars of “stimulus” spending on a public that wanted no part of either one. It wasn’t “hate-filled” talk radio who ran up record-setting deficits, nationalized banks, car companies and student loans, or apologized for America all over the world. It wasn’t a “trigger-happy” Sarah Palin who spoke of a “Recovery Summer,” 3.5 million jobs “created or saved” or the “green shoots” of economic recovery, even as progressives and their media enablers kept referring to disappointing employment reports month after month as “unexpected.” It isn’t “evil” conservatives who are trying enact regulations via the EPA, FCC or other government agencies, without Congressional input.
From 2006-2008, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. From 2008-2010, Democrats were in complete control of the federal government, including substantial periods of time, due to Arlen Specter’s change of party affiliation, and Al Franken’s delayed victory in Minnesota, where they enjoyed a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate. As a result, despite all talk of Republican “obstructionism,” they did what they wanted. As such, it has became virtually impossible to characterize November’s 63-seat loss in the House and a 6-seat loss in the Senate, as anything other than the electorate’s repudiation of their efforts.
At least that was the case until last Saturday. And while a certain element of the collective attack orchestrated by the left with regard to Tucson is a reaction to that election, one would be naive to think that the majority of the orchestrators are backward-looking. The 2010 election is a done deal, and the reality of it is that Republicans cannot overturn anything substantial enacted by the 111th Congress, as long as Democrats hold the Senate and president Obama holds the veto pen.
The exploitation of the tragedy in Arizona is a dress rehearsal, an effort to see what forces can be marshaled together and focused on the progressives’ real target: the 2012 election.
Part of that focus is already playing itself out. Using the Arizona tragedy as a springboard, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) is calling for the re-instatement of the Fairness Doctrine; Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is calling for a change in the nation’s dialogue “by will or by law;” the National Hispanic Media Coalition is asking the FCC to “update its definitions of hate speech in the media;” Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has ordered government employees in that state not to go on “talk radio” stations during their work hours, singling out that particular part of the media and no other; and Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA) has drafted legislation to ban symbols or language which could be perceived as “threatening” or “inciting violence.”
It’s not flying. A CBS New poll revealed that 57% of Americans, including a plurality of Democrats, (49% vs. 42%) said they don’t believe Jared Loughner was motivated by “heated rhetoric.” This suggests that nearly six-in-ten Americans may also recognize that what progressives in Congress are doing is nothing more than a ham-fisted attempt to stifle debate leading up to arguably the most critical election in modern American history. One which may deal the kind of blow to progressive ideology from which it may never fully recover.
President Obama has just spoken out to the nation regarding the tragedy in Arizona. The focus of that speech reveals a great deal about where this nation is headed during the 2012 election cycle. According to an editorial by Juan Williams at Foxnews.com, the president was being “pressured by Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and others on the left to use his speech in Tucson to castigate far-right vitriol on talk radio and cable news.” Mr. Obama, on the other hand, avoided such advice like the plague, as well he should have. In 2012, Obama will have no shortage of left-wing demagogues like Mr. Alter in his corner. But if he is to have a chance of getting re-elected, further alienating the Independent vote which turned against him in 2010 (and polling indicates a substantial majority would have disapproved of the Jonathan Alter route), would have been be decidedly foolish.
Progressive Democrats and their media enablers may want to throw themselves under the bus. Their attempted exploitation of a national tragedy has revealed a political tone-deafness best characterized as desperation. But I doubt the president will join them. Mr. Obama may be many things. Politically naive isn’t one of them.