Man Without Qualities

Monday, June 05, 2006

Contra 1994

American Thinker and Patrick Hynes rip into the casually but intensely held mainstream media belief that the elections of 2006 will resemble the elections of 1994 in reverse (that is, 2006 will be a Democratic Congressional rout, maybe a landslide). Patrick reserves on an important point claimed by the American Thinker:

I believe [American Thinker's] Sheppard overstates the case for the Contract With America in his piece, however, which received little notice until after the election. On the contrary, 1994 was in many ways the first “moral values” election in which evangelical Christians became a dominant voting block in many areas of the country.
I tentatively agree with their conclusions. While I'm not sure how much the Contract With America and evangelicals counted in 1994, I do think that Patrick and Sheppard might do well to consider one very important feature of the 1994 election:
The 1992 election was won by Bill Clinton as a "moderate" Democratic Leadership Council type - which was and is widely conceded to be the only Democratic type to be electable in any swing race, and especially to the White House. But immediately after the Clintonites arrived in Washington the word went out - and continued to be emphasized by the mainstream media and many others for the following two years - that Bill Clinton had realized that the then-Democratic Congress was so intractable that he, as president, had no choice but to sign onto the dominant liberal Democratic agenda in order to avoid the disastrous pitfalls of Jimmy Carter's outsider status. The Clinton tax hikes, the specific and highly unpopular form of HillaryCare (carefully left vague during the campaign), and many other things that signaled the departure of the Clinton administration from the DLC formula were therefore laid by President Clinton and his people and surrogates squarely at the door of the Democratic Congress in the run-up to the 1994 elections. Every Clintonian betrayal of a 1992 presidential campaign promise therefore became a reason to vote Republican. Rarely, if ever, has a sitting president set up his own party in Congress to take the fall in midterm elections the way Bill Clinton did the Democrats from 1992 to 1994. Clinton would have done only incrementally more damage to the Democrats in Congress if he had presented himself as required by them to act and govern like Sister Souljah.
Which leads to what I believe is another big difference between 1994 and 2006:
George Bush may not be popular at the moment. But unlike Bill Clinton from 1992 to 1994, President Bush has not been busy over the past two years putting out the message that the things that have made him unpopular were dictated, ordained and determined by his need to cater to the people in his own party who are running for re-election to Congress in November. Mr. Bush has been a very strong team player in that regard. His vetoless record is just one example.
It should be a very big difference to the party controlling Congress that their own president and his surrogates have not been actively trying to shed responsibility in the direction of Congress for the past two years. Just ask any Democrat voted out of office in 1994.

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