We Don’t Recriminate Like We Used To
Kf Leans Forward: As Ricochet listeners know, I’m already worrying that if Obama loses, Democrats will be deprived of the highly productive “recriminations” period that followed the party’s humiliating defeats in 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988. Recrimination gave us neoliberalism, Gary Hart, the DLC, Bill Clinton, public school choice, industrial policy (sorry about that one) and welfare reform. It helpfully laid blame for Dem defeat on labor unions, selfish seniors, “liberal fundamentalists,” civil-rights dinosaurs, litigious victims and other Democratic special interests. Dems finally elected a president in 1992 in large part because of the quadrennial ideological flagellations of the preceding decades.
But even a mild round of self-critical competition–let alone the traditional orgy–will be hard to mount in today’s media environment. As everyone knows, much of the engaged left–people who formerly would have been exposed to post-defeat handwringing in places like Atlantic and New Republic–has effectively hived itself off in MSNBC World, where the typical show features a liberal host, and a guest who agrees with the host, and another guest who agrees with the first guest. Even in the printosphere, when Obama screws up Jonathan Chait or Michael Tomasky are there to explain why the screw up isn’t really such a screw up and actually hurts Republicans in the long run.
In other words, we already know why Obama will have lost. He’ll have lost because he wasn’t populist enough, he demoralized his base, he didn’t pursue single-payer, he foolishly tried to win over swing voters instead of registering new voters, he was too nice to the Republicans. Rachel Maddow and both her guests will nod sagely.
P.S.: I suppose this phenomenon is symmetrical–if Romney loses, Erick Erickson will say he was a RINO. Except it’s not symmetrical, because the MSM is already sponsoring its own competing GOP/Romney recrimination–he’s a captive of Tea Party crazies, unyielding on immigration amnesty, etc. We’re unlikely to see a similar MSM pushback to the “he forgot about Osawatamie” explanation from on the left. (Thomas Edsall can only do so much.)