As Democrats flee from the scenes of their crimes against common sense —Senators Dodd and Dorgan, Colorado Governor Ritter and Michigan Lt. Governor Cherry are all casualties of the last 24 hours– a sense of panic has got to be setting in among Congressional Democrats, especially among those back benchers without access to their party’s polling data. If Scott Brown comes within 10 in the special Senate election in Massachusetts expect another ripple of fear to move through the Democratic ranks. (For a quick run down of the race, see this post by Powerline’s Scott Johnson.) 2010 is opening with a terrorist attack followed by a deeply disquieting display of incompetence by the president and his senior staff, and the only idea in the White House with how to deal with double digit unemployment is to spend more dollars the country doesn’t have.
Victor Davis Hanson predicted on yesterday’s program that we would be treated to a series of Obama-led “summits” as substitutes for the serious policy reversals the economy and our national security needs. (The transcript of our conversation is here.) But even if the president tries to repeat and upgrade his “jobs summit” fiasco, it won’t do anything to change the public’s mood which is one of having been fleeced by the sharp young guy at 1600. Nancy Pelosi’s transparently dishonest declarations of transparency just throw gas on the fire, and Democrats considering their future know she will be a fixture of the GOP’s campaigns over the next ten months.
The retirement announcements that flooded out of D.C. yesterday reflect a Christmas holiday season spent with family and focused on individuals’ futures. As a practical matter, it is easier to plan on a job transition with a year left in a job, and that is exactly what Dorgan and Dodd, Ritter and Cherry have done –they have begun their job hunt. Not for them the sudden boot and the scramble to land a position as executive director of the school bus driver’s local in D.C.
Other Democrats have to be making the same calculation, and now that these big names in the Senate have declared their intention to head for the exits with resumes in hand, others will have to ask themselves hard questions about their own futures: Do they really stand a chance of surviving 2010 and then a redistricted 2012? What do Dodd, Dorgan and Ritter know that they don’t? Do they even like working for Nancy Pelosi? Is the president actually going to get worse at this job he’s been doing poorly and not better?
On this last point yesterday’s statement on the underpants bomber was very troubling –for all of us. The idea the president credited that al Qaeda in Yemen was inspired by Gitmo is simply daft, the sort of statement that telegraphs a deep ignorance of the jihadis and their agendas and motivations. Someone hand the president a copy of The Looming Tower for goodness sakes.
“I think it’s shameful,” Professor Hanson said of the President’s citing of al Qaeda propaganda concerning Gitmo, “because nobody listens to what the grievances are of an enemy. That’s like saying Hitler went into Poland because he had grievances from Versailles. Every aggressor always dreams up rationalizations, but anybody who’s sober and judicious doesn’t believe them.”
By citing Gitmo in the explanation for why al Qaeda in Yemen exists and thus why a bomber trained in Yemen attacked the U.S., President Obama is reflexively looking for a way to blame President Bush for yet another Obama failure, this one of the sort to scare Americans and not just infuriate them. But as with the now risible claims about the stimulus that didn’t, pointing fingers at Bush while standing next to Janet Incompitano, as Mark Steyn has forever christened her, just won’t cut it with the public.
No doubt Dorgan, Dodd, Ritter and Cherry had all made their minds up before the president’s “swing-and-a-miss” security summit and remarks yesterday, but if they were waiting to watch his performance to decide whether to delay their decisions a bit in the hope of a change in the wind, they saw nothing to slow them down as they headed towards the copier with resume in hand.
How many other Democrats are realizing the same thing? And how many would-be candidates realize that 2010 is just not the year to risk everything to try for higher office.
Watch Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Politico’s Mike Allen reports this morning that any Rocky Mountain Democrats will urge Salazar to throw his cowboy hat into the ring to replace Ritter, but one year into one of America’s great jobs and burdened by his global warming enthusiasm, his just announced job-killing new restrictions on drilling, and his general closeness to the president, why would Salazar throw away a great job for an unlikely victory after months of non-stop fundraising?
All across the country today, Republicans are gladly picking up the phone and asking people for support, and glum Democrats are staring at their lists of potential supporters and another day of asking for help only to be told what a bust 2009 was and why can’t the Democrats read a poll on the health care overhaul. It takes a toll on a candidate to have to carry a White House and a Speaker. How many more will say “No mas?”