I keep hearing how the Congressional race in New York is, somehow, a referendum on the presidency of Barack Obama. Usually, I would scoff at such fatuous prognosticating. But then, it’s been a strange political season.
So, why not?
This one will end when Obama leaves office. Things will return back to normal.
The only comparable periods I could remember were when Harold Washington became mayor of Chicago in the early 80’s and when David Dinkins became mayor of New York City in the early 90’s.
Both times, the Democratic Party establishments in those cities willfully elected to sit on their hands and give up considerable political power and patronage just so the incumbent Democrat would lose.
In his first race for mayor of Chicago, Republican Bernie Epton actually had a fighting chance to win because the Democrats preferred him over the Democrat in the race, Harold Washington. Like the late Chicago Sun Times Columnist Mike Royko famously wrote, “Chicago doesn’t have enough Republican voters to win a Moose lodge election.”
When Washington won, the party establishment organized a coup d’etat in the City Council and resolved to run the city themselves. Washington (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Washington) was a Congressman before running for mayor. He was a tough political battler who was willing to fight for his political life.
“Washington’s first term in office was characterized by ugly, racially polarized battles dubbed “Council Wars”, referring to the then-recent Star Wars films. A 29–21 City Council majority refused to enact Washington’s reform legislation and prevented him from appointing reform nominees to boards and commissions. Other first-term items include overall city population loss, increased crime, and a massive decrease in ridership on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). This helped earn the city the nickname “Beirut on the Lake”, and many people wondered if Chicago would ever recover or face the more permanent declines of other cities in the U.S. Midwest.
The twenty-nine, also known as the Vrdolyak Twenty-nine, was led by “the Eddies”: Alderman Ed Vrdolyak, Finance Chair Edward Burke and Parks Commissioner Edmund Kelly. The Eddies were supported by the younger Daley (now State’s Attorney), U.S. Congressmen Dan Rostenkowski and William Lipinski, and other powerful white Democrats.
During one of the first Council meetings, Harold Washington was
unable to get his appointments approved.
Harold Washington and the twenty-one ward representatives that supported him, walked out of the meeting after a quorum had been established. Vrdolyak and the other twenty-eight were able to appoint all of the boards and chairs. Later lawsuits submitted by Harold Washington and others were dismissed because it was determined that the appointments were legally made.
Washington ruled by veto. The twenty-nine could not get the thirtieth vote they needed to override Washington’s veto; African American, Latino and white liberal aldermen supported Washington despite pressure from the Eddies.”
So, in the Senate, after Obama came into office, despite having 59 United States Senators to the Republicans 41, Republicans somehow set the terms of the debate on legislation. Then, in the midterm elections, Republicans strengthened their hands by regaining the House of Representatives and gaining a couple of U.S. Senate seats.
Republicans became strictly obstructionists, not only unwilling to reasonably discuss any national issue, but actually working to harm the nation because it served their political purposes. They paid no political price for that. In fact, they gained more power.
But I am getting too far ahead of myself.
To get back to back to Harold Washington, he won reelection but had a massive heart attack at his desk in City Hall in early in his second term.
Dinkins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Dinkins), like Obama now, was seen as weak. In New York City, people did not come out to vote. Think about it. Democrats outnumber Republicans by 5-1 in New York City. Winning the office meant not only that lots of people kept their jobs but that they got more jobs and patronage for four more years.
And they gave all that up.
So, yes, Obama—perhaps one of the smartest person to ever hold the presidency of the United r-bStates—will lose reelection in 2012. Maybe the people of our fair nation will start acting normal after that.
UPDATE: Just to prove Democrats are their own worst enemies, if not worse, some lame-brain Democrats now say they oppose the president’s job bill. The same bill that has put Republicans in a “damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t” quandry! How could make political hay against recalcitrant Republicans when Democrats are adding fuel to the Republican fire?