- The Washington Times
Monday, November 7, 2022

OPINION:

Democrats are poised to get – to borrow a word from former President Barack Obama — a shellacking in this year’s midterms. The question will then become: Can President Biden pivot to the middle to work with Republicans and truly listen and respond to the issues concerning the American people?

Don’t count on it.


When Mr. Obama lost 63 House seats in 2010, he admitted his White House was sometimes trapped “in the bubble,” of Washington and had lost touch with voters. He vowed to work with Republicans on issues where both sides could find a compromise, like reducing the deficit.

But that was abandoned in early 2011, when Mr. Obama announced his reelection campaign, gave up on centrist policies, and aggressively courted his progressive base.

Instead of preaching about fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama spoke of big, structural change in the form of additional government spending and programs. Republicans were labeled as “obstructionists” for supporting tax cuts and deregulation. Those who opposed Mr. Obama were derided as “racists” by the mainstream media, even as Mr. Obama declared his Republican opponent Mitt Romney as “not one of us.”

Mr. Obama won reelection in 2012, largely turning out progressive voters where he needed them, in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Pennsylvania. It was also in no small part to the thorough media drubbing Mr. Romney experienced on the campaign trail (remember the dog on the car rooftop, binders full of women, false accusations he didn’t pay taxes, or that he was a “race-mongering pyromaniac,” for opposing Obamacare), compounded by his inability to fight back effectively.

Still, Mr. Obama didn’t have the full confidence of the electorate, as the American economy was still limping along under his policies and his approval numbers remained low. After his second “shellacking” in 2014, the Democratic Party had lost in Mr. Obama’s two midterm elections a combined net total of 13 governorships, 816 state legislative seats, and 85 House and Senate seats, the most in U.S. history.
Yet, Mr. Obama took no responsibility.

“Despite losing the Senate, Obama doesn’t think too much should be read into election results from a handful of states that never approved of his job performance in the first place,” Politico reported in a 2014 article headlined “No Obama pivot after midterms.”

“Obama acknowledges that he needs to do better, and he will make modest adjustments to his staffing, messaging and legislative strategy in response,” the article continued. “But he won’t pivot to the right.”

Instead, Mr. Obama pivoted further to the left.

He courted socialist policies, raising taxes on the rich and giving national profile to Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. As the U.S. lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs, he told struggling Americans there was no “magic wand” to bring them back. He declared war on small business owners, declaring they didn’t build their business, “somebody else made that happen.”

Through his pen and phone strategy, he assaulted the U.S. oil industry, rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, banned new Arctic drilling, and entered the Paris Climate Accord.

He gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement by perpetrating the “hands up don’t shoot,” myth of 18-year-old Michael Brown’s shooting by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, which sparked rioting. He then defended the protesters while deriding police.

When Mr. Obama left office, a majority of Americans (54%) said relations between Blacks and Whites had become worse during his presidency. Moreover, more than 6 in 10 Americans viewed the country as “off on the wrong track,” more than double the number who thought the country was “generally headed in the right direction.”

Mr. Obama said for months on the campaign trail that a win for Mr. Trump would be a personal repudiation of him – and it was. Yet, his communication team went fast to work, rejecting the idea Mr. Obama had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s rising.

“An election is a comparison between two people, and two candidates on the ballot,” Jen Psaki, who was then Mr. Obama’s communications director, responded to questions connecting Mr. Trump’s victory to Mr. Obama’s policies.

His team then ratcheted up their Democracy in Decline rhetoric.

Mr. Biden, whose White House is staffed with former Obama advisers, is mirroring his former boss’s strategy.

His closing argument heading into the midterms is MAGA Republicans are a “threat to Democracy,” dovetailing on his dark Philadelphia speech about the “clear and present danger” they represent, and his telling a Democratic fundraiser in Maryland that his political opponents are “semi-fascists.”

And like, Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden has refused to take responsibility for anything. High inflation is a “global problem,” before it was “transitory,” then industry’s fault for price gouging, then Russian President Vladimir Putin’s price hike, and (depending on the day) Republicans’ fault.

There is no crisis at the Southern border, Afghanistan was the greatest airlift in American history, and rising crime is largely a scare tactic coming from the GOP.

Mr. Biden is an inflation denier, a crime denier, and a border crisis denier. In the days to come, he’s also sure to become an election denier in that, like his former boss, he won’t believe Nov. 8 was a referendum on his leadership.

There will be no pivot to the right.

• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor at The Washington Times.


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