WHAT’S WORSE THAN A BAD ELECTION NIGHT?
HEARING FROM THE PUNDITS THE DAY AFTER
“The outcome of Tuesday’s election!” Mr. O said enthusiastically, as if he knew the correct answer before his classmates and was waving his paw to get the teacher’s attention.
And not waiting, he blurted: “The Democrats lost the Virginia governor’s race, and came close to losing the one in New Jersey, and this proves that the party’s doomed in next year’s election.”
At least, Mr. O had not used the word “gubernatorial.”
“Yes. And no,” I said. “Of course I wish that Virginia would continue to be run by a Democrat. Republicans are frightening. No state should have a Republican in charge; the party must disband or be be ostracized as an anti-democratic organization embracing authoritarianism and violence.”
“What is bothering you, Phoebe?” he said.
“The pundits, and what they had to say the day after the election, that’s what’s got my dander up,” I said.
“Don’t you mean: ‘That’s what’s got my hackles up?’ Dogs have hackles, which are hairs they raise when they’re considering going on the attack,” Mr. O said authoritatively. “Although I’ve never been sure what ‘hackles’ are. Or ‘dander,’ for that matter.”
“While you’re Googling the answers,” I said, “I’ll explain why I’m so exercised.”
“Exercise is good for all of us,” Mr. O said helpfully.
How can somebody be so cute – that face on the opossum will get you every time – but be so obtuse? I launched into my diatribe anyway.
“Okay,” Mr. O said, “what else?”
“What they said about the New Jersey race, how everyone was shocked – shocked, I say – by the closeness of the race: Memo to pundits and Democratic crybabies everywhere: Philip D. Murphy, the Democratic governor, won New Jersey. As in got-more-votes. What’s more, Murphy’s the first Democratic governor to be re-elected in that bizzaro, state in more than 40 years.”
“Yes, but...,” Mr. O tried to interrupt.
“No buts,” I continued. “The Democrats lost one state and won one. WE WON. Proclaim the positive. VICTORY IN NJ! But you’d never know there was an upside. Here’s a sample of news and opinion headlines:
ANALYSIS: DEMOCRATS GOT SHELLACKED. NOW WHAT?
AFTER VIRGINIA, DEMOCRATS SHOULD ABSOLUTELY BE FREAKING OUT ABOUT NOW
HOUSE DEMS SUBURBAN FOUNDATION AT RISK OF CRUMBLING AFTER TUESDAY’S RESULTS
NEW YORK TIMES:
ROCKED BY SURPRISE LOSSES, DEMOCRATS SOUND THE ALARM FOR 2022
AN OFF-YEAR ELECTORAL WIPEOUT HIGHLIGHTED THE FRAGILE STATE OF THE PARTY’S ELECTORAL MAJORITIES IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE.
BODY BLOW FOR BIDEN AS VOTERS IN VIRGINIA AND NEW JERSEY DESERT DEMOCRATS
I just starred at him in disbelief, then shouted: “What do marsupials know about anything?!”
“I wouldn’t go there,” Mr. O warned calmly. “Shouldn’t question whether animals make good political analysts in the same blog that’s written by a stray puppy and an opossum who wandered into her backyard.”
“Whatever,” I growled. “Here’s the thing: Virginia’s gubernatorial – I mean governor’s – race was an election in one state, not 50. Biden wasn’t on the ticket. The House and Senate seats were not on the ballot. The only ‘lesson’ is that Republicans are always a threat. And a menace. We live in scary times. Period.”
“But…,” Mr. O said, trying again.
“What really galls me,” I interrupted, “was how the Pundocracy was so eager to blame Democratic progressives. Exhibit A: James Carville. You remember the ‘Ragin’ Cajun’ – he was the down-to-earth guy who was part of Bill ‘The Sex Fiend’ Clinton’s brain trust. Wednesday evening, he was among the commentator’s on the usually sensible PBS NewsHour program.
Well, what went wrong is this stupid wokeness.
All right? Don't just look at Virginia and New Jersey. Look at Long Island, look at Buffalo, look at Minneapolis. Even look at Seattle, Washington. I mean, this defund the police lunacy, this take Abraham Lincoln's name off of schools, that — people see that.
And it's just — really have a suppressive effect all across the country to Democrats. Some of these people need to go to a woke detox center or something. They're expressing language that people just don't use. And there's a backlash and a frustration at that.
* * *
And we have got to change this and not be about changing dictionaries and change laws. And these faculty lounge people that sit around mulling about I don't know what are — they're not working.
We could have a roaring economy. This Build Back Better is going to give people a lot of confidence. And as long as we talk about things that are relevant to people and understand what they're going through in their lives and get rid of this left-wing nonsense, this claptrap I hear, I think we can be fine.
* * *
And there's a real lesson here. And it can be corrected. But they have got — these people have to understand, no one — you're not popular. People don't want to ride in the car with you. They don't want to ride next to you in the subway. You're annoying people.
“Let’s start with Jim’s ‘good friend,’ Terry McAuliffe, who, Carville said, was sunk by Progressives' language," I said. “But it was Terry’s campaign, and obviously, Terry failed to appeal to lots of Democrats. Hey, Jim: It wasn't Terry's party who let him down. It was Terry who pulled his party down."
“Or, what about that new GOP political wizard, Glenn Youngkin? He just played the familiar old Republican cards: (A) Race, disguised this time as school issues, promising to ban teaching of ‘Critical Race Theory,’ (not part of the Virginia education curriculum) ; and (B) Pandering to Trump voters, by making sure he was not seen seen on the campaign trail with Trump; but not criticizing him, either, as he sucked up to Trump voters."
“But what’s really disturbing about Carville’s comments," I said, "was his savage attack on the people who make up the soul of the Democratic Party, Progressives and Blacks."
"Carville was seething with contempt for Democrats who’ve been sensitized to racial issues, belittling their ‘stupid wokeness,’ demonizing 'these faculty lounge people,’ and thus reverting to old fashioned conservative tropes that attack eggheads and academics. Not acknowledging where the real enthusiasm, the energy and most of thoughtful ideas come from in the Democratic Party – from the party’s Progressives.
“It’s worse,” I said. “Listen to Carville’s contempt for champions of racial justice: People don't want to ride in the car with you. They don't want to ride next to you in the subway. You're annoying people. ”
“So much for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and the Civil Rights Movement. Just listen to the advice Carville’s dishing out. I’m paraphrasing: If you want to win an election, put your knee on the neck of the Democratic Party’s most important constituency. And, while you’re about it, screw the entire Civil Rights Movement. Be careful of who sits next to you on the subway. One of them might be Rosa Parks. The Gospel according to Saint. James: If you want to beat Trump and his maniac Republicans, act like them, think like them, talk like them; and hate like them."
I was practically in tears, maybe from anger, and certainly out of fear. The after-election analysis seemed to me to be sort of like the Trump presidency itself: You thought it was going to be bad, but the reality was even worse.
I was shaking.
Mr. O looked at me with alarm, the way you might regard a friend who’s pleasant dinner-table talk has suddenly turned completely active volcano.
He sat quietly for a while.
“So, Phoebe,” he said finally, “If I’m hearing you right, you didn’t find the after-election analysis all that helpful?”