The Corner

NYT Editorial Board Shakes Fist at the Heavens

It’s rare I encourage NRO readers to check out a New York Times editorial, but this one is too delicious. The Times is furious at Democratic Senate candidates for their refusal to embrace Barack Obama. A few excerpts:

The panicky Democratic flight away from President Obama — and from some of the party’s most important positions — is not a surprise. Mr. Obama remains highly unpopular among white voters, particularly in Southern states where candidates like Ms. Nunn, Ms. Grimes and several others are struggling to establish leads. But one of the reasons for his unpopularity is that nervous members of his own party have done a poor job of defending his policies over the nearly six years of his presidency, allowing a Republican narrative of failure to take hold.

Few voters know that the 2009 stimulus bill contributed heavily to the nation’s economic recovery, saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. Not a word of it is spoken on the campaign trail, where little credit is also given to the White House for months of promising economic news.

Similarly, the Affordable Care Act, one of the most far-reaching and beneficial laws to have been passed by Congress in years, gets little respect even among the Democratic candidates who voted for it. Though none support the Republican position of repeal, most talk about the need to “fix” the health law, as if it were a wreck alongside the road rather than a vehicle providing millions of people with health coverage. . . .

Many of these candidates are running in difficult political environments and are being careful about what they say or don’t say in hopes of preserving Democratic control of the Senate. They run the risk, though, of alienating important constituencies who prefer a party with a spine, especially black voters, who remain very supportive of Mr. Obama. By not standing firmly for their own policies, Democrats send a message to voters that the unending Republican criticism of the president is legitimate. There is much that is going right in this country, and there is still time for Democrats to say so.

A few points worth making. First, about those darn southern whites. As Steve Hayes noted on Twitter earlier this morning, the New York Times’ own poll found that Obama is unpopular in 43 states. It’s true, he’s popular in New York, but just barely. But that still leaves quite a few non-southern states. What I find particularly amusing about the editorial is how backward-looking it is. Bill Clinton always used to say elections are about the future, but the Times can’t let go of the past — and thinks its dyspepsia is a font of good campaign advice. Really? You want Democrats to talk about the stimulus? There have been two congressional elections since then. If voters feel like the economy is doing poorly, talking about an unpopular move to fix the economy five years ago doesn’t seem to me like a great piece advice. Talk more about Obamacare? The Times seems to share Obama’s view that if you just keep saying the American people are wrong for not liking the thing, they’ll eventually come to their senses. Indeed, the whole editorial reminds me of researchers screaming at the dumb dogs for not liking the dog food.

I don’t hold much of a brief for the Democratic Senate candidates, but something tells me that Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, and Mary Landrieu know a hell of a lot more about what makes for good politics in their states than the folks at the Times


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