When is a Mandate Not a Mandate?
The answer would appear to be, when the mandate referee is Bob Novak.
The first Democratic Electoral College landslide in decades did not result in a tight race for control of Congress. […]
[Obama] may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities.
Something smelled bad about this as soon as I read it, but fortunately, Ali Frick at Think Progress has already done the heavy lifting for us. Novak is singing a bit of a different tune now than he did four years ago.
Novak dismissed Democratic congressional gains, noting that they “fell several votes short of the 60-vote filibuster-proof Senate.” However, in 2004 — as President Bush crowed about his “political capital” — Novak didn’t hesitate to agree that Bush’s comparatively narrow victory was proof of a conservative mandate, in a CNN interview just days after the election:
Q: Bob Novak, is 51 percent of the vote really a mandate?
NOVAK: Of course it is. It’s a 3.5 million vote margin. But the people who are saying that it isn’t a mandate are the same people who were predicting that John Kerry would win. … So the people who say there’s not a mandate want the president, now that he’s won, to say, Oh, we’re going to accept the liberalism that the — that the voters rejected. But Mark, this is a conservative country, and it showed it on last Tuesday. [11/06/04]
Novak has never made any serious effort to portray himself as a nonpartisan observer of the political arena, so this type of about-face doesn’t come as a huge surprise. It may, however, be an early taste of the sort of coverage President Obama can expect from conservative critics no matter which way the winds blow.
NOTE: In response to early e-mail, yes I am fully aware of Novak’s current medical issues. I certainly hope that he recovers from them and prospers. At the same time, he has made the choice to continue publishing political opinions while dealing with that situation. When you make that choice, you don’t get a free pass on blatant hypocrisy just because you have a health problem.