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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Democratic self-esteem and self-deception

David Brooks has a lot of fun poking fun at the self-deception of the Democrats as they seek to deny the fact that people just don't seem to like them very much. As he puts it, the Democrats "have offered us lessons on how we, too, may continue to love ourselves, even in trying circumstances."
Lesson two. Always remember, many great geniuses were unappreciated in their lifetimes.

Democrats are lagging this year because the country appears incapable of appreciating the grandeur of their accomplishments. That’s because, as several commentators have argued over the past few weeks, many Americans are nearsighted and ill-informed. Or, as President Obama himself noted last week, they get scared, and when Americans get scared they stop listening to facts and reason. They get all these crazy ideas in their heads, like not wanting to re-elect Blanche Lincoln.

The Democrats’ problem, as some senior officials have mentioned, is that they are so darn captivated by substance, it never occurs to them to look out for their own political self-interest. By they way, here’s a fun party game: Get a bottle of vodka and read Peter Baker’s article “The Education of President Obama” from The New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago. Take a shot every time a White House official is quoted blaming Republicans for the Democrats’ political plight. You’ll be unconscious by page three.

Lesson three. Always remember: You are the hero of your own children’s adventure story.

Some low-minded people could look at events this year and tell a dull, prosaic story. They would say that parties that promote unpopular policies tend to get punished at election time, These grubby-minded people would point out that Democratic House members who voted against health care are doing well in their re-election bids, while those who voted for it are getting clobbered.

But many Democrats have a loftier sensibility. They see this campaign as a poetic confrontation between good (themselves) and pure evil (Karl Rove and his group, American Crossroads).

As Nancy Pelosi put it at a $50,000-a-couple fund-raiser, “Everything was going great and all of a sudden secret money from God knows where — because they won’t disclose it — is pouring in.”

Even allowing the menace of secret money, embracing this Paradise Lost epic means obscuring a few inconvenient facts: that Democrats were happy to benefit from millions of anonymous dollars in 2006, 2008 and today; that the spending by Rove’s group amounts to less than 1 percent of the total money spent on campaigns this year; that Democrats retain an overall spending advantage.

But legend rises above mere facticity, and this Lancelots-of-the-Left tale underlines a self-affirming message — that Democrats are engaged in a righteous crusade against the dark villain who tricked Americans into voting against John Kerry.


Freeven said...

All this psycho-political-babble about Americans voting irrationally because they are scared is, of course, self-serving nonsense, though it's telling that, per Obama, Americans are more scared after "recovery summer" than they were during the "Great Recession."

That said, some of the rest can't be dismissed so easily. American's are "nearsighted and ill-informed." They also have very short memories.

And, snark aside, even the charge that "the country appears incapable of appreciating the grandeur of their accomplishments" is credible. I believe, for example, that Bush's accomplishments in Iraq go largely unappreciated and will, in time, be seen in a much more positive light.

It's easy for me to imagine that (as yet unrealized) fully nationalized health care will one day be seen as a great accomplishment by many Americans, just as Social Security and Medicare are today.

It's easy and convenient, given the rank arrogance of Obama, to mock these types of statements, but there is a fair amount of perennial truth in them.

Bachbone said...

Does this mean even the erudite Mr. Brooks has begun edging toward the railing of Obama's sinking ship in hopes that some incoming, stoopid, conservative will throw him a lifeline?