Stop the Insanity!

Here’s another example of the insane narrative emerging from Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts on Tuesday — from a leading German publication, Der Spiegel:

US President Barack Obama suffered a painful defeat in Massachusetts on Tuesday. With mid-term elections looming, it means that Obama will have to fundamentally re-think his political course. German commentators say it is the end of hope.

US President Barack Obama has had a number of difficult weeks during his first year in the White House.

Please. Stop.

First, Obama didn’t lose, Martha Coakley did. She was a horrible, gaffe-prone candidate who fell into the trap of invincible inevitability. And she lost to a right-wing Republican masquerading as an independent and moderate, a former nude model with an attractive family. When he said in his victory speech that he drives a truck, he was pretty much identifying his sole qualification for getting elected. That and the fact that he recites Republican propaganda without sneering too much. Republicans have tried to turn the “special election” into a national referendum on Obama, and on the Democratic legislative agenda in Congress, but the outcome of the election had more to do with the candidates themselves and with a general anti-incumbent (that is, anti-party-in-power) mood at a time of relatively high unemployment and widespread economic insecurity and fear than with, say, health-care reform, which remains hugely popular in Massachusetts. The state actually has a well-regarded system already in place, “Romneycare,” named after former Republican Gov. (and presidential aspirant) Mitt Romney.) Republicans and their media mouthpieces refrain from mentioning this awkward fact when spinning Brown’s win to fit their anti-Obama narrative.

(Isn’t it amusing how Republicans are focusing on Massachusetts like it’s the true national bellweather? It isn’t, of course, and Republicans generally think of it as one of the most un-American states in the union. Their use and abuse of it now, as if the people of Massachusetts are all-wise, is dishonest and cynical.)

Second, Obama has actually had a fairly successful first year in office. I won’t get into details here, but see my post responding to Jacob Weisberg’s piece at Slate on “Obama’s Brilliant First Year.” Undeniably — and by the president’s own admission — there have been some mistakes. And there have been some missteps, as well as some policies with which I disagree (the Afghan surge, Bush-like national security secrecy, economic policies, including the Wall Street bailout, devised by Wall Street insiders for the benefit of their pals on Wall Street). I have been sharply critical of the president, as have many others, including many of his supporters, but there is a certain revisionism going on now, and it’s pretty much getting the past year wrong. Again, though, this is part of the Republican narrative: Obama has been a failure (except when he’s done too much, been too successful, undermined America with his socialist/fascist ideology, etc.).

Enough already.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)