Things haven’t been going well for Democrats lately. President Obama’s poll numbers are tanking. They’re at risk of losing control of the House and Senate. Their policies are unpopular. And they’re so jittery that last week they threw an African-American Department of Agriculture employee, Shirley Sherrod, under the bus before they had all the facts because they’re afraid of Fox News. Some people say this is all Barack Obama’s fault. He’s too ideological, too inexperienced, and too self-centered, and he’s led the Democratic Party astray. I disagree. I think Democrats have just lost their groove.
The basic Democratic game plan—their groove—is well worn. With the liberal media and a host of organizations representing Democratic constituency groups covering their back, they stay on the offensive through thick and thin. They use focus-group-tested talking points to drive home their established truths: Republicans only care about the rich. Big government is good. Whatever’s wrong, it’s all George Bush’s fault. The Tea Party movement is racist. And Sarah Palin is an idiot.
You have to hand it to them; they’ve been pretty successful with this approach. All they’ve had to do was stay in their groove. In 2006, they won back control of Congress. In 2008, they won the White House, a large majority in the House, and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. They passed historic healthcare and financial reform legislation. They closed Guantanamo, won the hearts and mind of the Muslim world, repaired all those damaged relationships with our allies, stopped illegal immigration, and halted nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea. Well, they’re still working on the last few things, but they’re almost there—just read their talking points.
Still, Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats, at least temporarily, have lost their groove. The problem started last July when the President jumped the gun without all the facts and said the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police department acted stupidly when it arrested an African-American Harvard professor in his own home, suggesting Obama might not be that “post-racial” after all. He got back in the groove, for a while, with the infamous “beer summit.”
Then there are those two- and three-thousand page bills he let Democrats in Congress write without adult supervision and then pass without popular support. Americans will love them when bureaucrats are finished writing eighty- or ninety-thousand more pages of implementing regulations and everything goes into effect. They’re just unpopular now because the President lost his groove and didn’t explain them well enough.
That war on Fox News, when the White House declared they weren’t a legitimate news organization and no one should pay any attention to them, was classic Democratic groove. Unfortunately, the White House lost it and came across like Kremlin apparatchiks. Fox’s viewers increased and the White House had to send up the white flag.
And there’s that pesky oil spill Obama thought BP would quickly plug and he didn’t give his full attention to until a few million barrels of oil were sloshing around the Gulf of Mexico. He was just off his groove and distracted with vacation planning.
Whether it was the president or other Democrats who lost their groove first is unclear; but the problem is apparently contagious.