If you want to read just one post-election analysis, I would suggest this one:
Timothy Egan: How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms
more than anything, the fact that the president took on the structural flaws of a broken free enterprise system instead of focusing on things that the average voter could understand explains why his party was routed on Tuesday. Obama got on the wrong side of voter anxiety in a decade of diminished fortunes.
“We have done things that people don’t even know about,” Obama told Jon Stewart. Certainly. The three signature accomplishments of his first two years — a health care law that will make life easier for millions of people, financial reform that attempts to level the playing field with Wall Street, and the $814 billion stimulus package — have all been recast as big government blunders, rejected by the emerging majority.
But each of them, in its way, should strengthen the system. The health law will hold costs down, while giving millions the chance at getting care, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Financial reform seeks to prevent the kind of meltdown that caused the global economic collapse. And the stimulus, though it drastically raised the deficit, saved about 3 million jobs, again according to the CBO. It also gave a majority of taxpayers a one-time cut — even if 90 percent of Americans don’t know that, either.
Of course, nobody gets credit for preventing a plane crash. “It could have been much worse!” is not a rallying cry. And, more telling, despite a meager uptick in job growth this year, the unemployment rate rose from 7.6 percent in the month Obama took office to 9.6 today.
Billions of profits, windfalls in the stock market, a stable banking system — but no jobs.
Of course, the big money interests who benefited from Obama’s initiatives have shown no appreciation. Obama, as a senator, voted against the initial bailout of AIG, the reckless insurance giant. As president, he extended them treasury loans at a time when economists said he must — or risk further meltdown. Their response was to give themselves $165 million in executive bonuses, and funnel money to Republicans this year.
Money flows one way, to power, now held by the party that promises tax cuts and deregulation — which should please big business even more.
President Franklin Roosevelt also saved capitalism, in part by a bank “holiday” in 1933, at a time when the free enterprise system had failed. Unlike Obama, he was rewarded with midterm gains for his own party because a majority liked where he was taking the country. The bank holiday was incidental to a larger public works campaign.
Obama can recast himself as the consumer’s best friend, and welcome the animus of Wall Street. He should hector the companies sitting on piles of cash but not hiring new workers. For those who do hire, and create new jobs, he can offer tax incentives. He should finger the financial giants for refusing to clean up their own mess in the foreclosure crisis. He should point to the long overdue protections for credit card holders that came with reform.
And he should veto, veto, veto any bill that attempts to roll back some of the basic protections for people against the institutions that have so much control over their lives – insurance companies, Wall Street and big oil.
They will whine a fierce storm, the manipulators of great wealth. A war on business, they will claim. Not even close. Obama saved them, and the biggest cost was to him.
Greg Sargent tries to read between the lines of Obama's press conference today and ventures that Obama "views the next two years through the prism of two core strategic questions:"
First, with Republicans moving to roll back key chunks of his agenda, how does he draw a line against those efforts without allowing Repubicans to paint him as arrogant and deaf to the message of last night's results?
And second: How aggressively can he highlight the Republicans' refusal to compromise, and thus claim the moral high ground, without undercutting the impression -- one he clearly wants to feed -- that he's reaching out and trying to establish common ground with them?
It will be interesting to see how Obama, who is one of the most resilient and skilled public communicators and debaters of the last generation, adapts to this sudden new set of challenges.
Ezra Klein and David Leonhardt both tried to imagine how Obama and Republicans could find common ground to move forward on solving our country's fiscal woes. It's very cute.
Mohamed A. El-Erian argues that we desperately need such cooperation in order to get the economy moving again. Unfortunately, however... Na Ga Ha Pen!
Going forward all Republicans have to do is prevent the economy from recovering for two more years and they'll be in good shape to take back the White House in 2012. As Lenin used to say, "the worse, the better."
Get ready for it!
Finally, off-topic, I'd just like to state for the record...
I believe Anita Hill