Election 2014

No President has sailed through two terms accoladed by the public and lauded by the media. The sixth year, in particular, is a hard one – especially as the mid-terms provide a clear score card on the incumbent. This time around the voters gave Obama a thorough spanking. But his misery is in good company.

George Bush watching his  presidency bog down.

George Bush watching his presidency bog down.

In 2006 Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” had decayed into an Islamic quagmire and he was wallowing in the bad press created by his second-rate response to Katrina. He proceeded to lose the House and Senate in the mid-terms, as well as several governorships).

Clinton actually had a better year in 1998 than he did in 1994 – politically. He picked up seats in the House – and although the Senate remained in GOP hands the balance of seats remained unchanged.

His difficulties were caused by the revelation of shenanigans with the intern, Monica Lewinski, and his serpentine defense of the indefensible. Luckily for him the GOP – instead of saying his behavior was that of a cad, grabbing the moral high-ground and moving on – gave him political cover with an impeachment overreach.

Luckily for Bill the GOP kept him afloat.

Luckily for Bill the GOP kept him afloat.

Reagan didn’t have much to lose politically in 1988 as control of the House and Senate was already in Democratic hands – so the modest Democratic pickups had little effect. But the day before the midterm elections the Iran Contra scandal broke. It turned out that the happy Cold War warrior’s administration was selling arms to the Iranians and using the funds to support the Contra insurgents fighting Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. All on the QT.

Reagan was left with the CEO’s dilemma – which is, that when your organization is guilty of bad behavior, you have  the choice of appearing complicit or ignorant. With his self-deprecating humor about his age and need to sleep, people were willing to believe he had lost control.

Nixon’s 6th year difficulties transcended those of any other President. He didn’t even make it to the mid-terms. His pointless coverup of a pointless break-in led to his resignation over Watergate.

Eisenhower lost 48 House and 13 Senate seats in 1958. But at least he dodged being swamped by scandals. Although he was derided for being out of touch and playing too much golf. (Sound familiar?)

Years before Obama was accused of it, FDR was supposedly pursuing  a larger share of the power pie.

Years before Obama was accused of it, FDR was supposedly grabbing for a larger share of the power pie.

The year 1938 was tough for FDR. He set a record by losing 71 House seats – as well as 6 Senate seats. He was already reeling from the negative reaction to his 1937 court packing scheme, when the New Deal itself was threatened by the “Roosevelt Recession”. An economic down-turn that was exacerbated by a series of violent strikes. Which called into question his competence to deal with the economy.

Further his attempt to thwart the re-election of anti-New Deal Democrats was characterized as a purge by the media – an unfortunate allusion to the USSR, which was much in the news because of Stalin’s prominent show trials.

So why the six year ‘curse’? Every President comes into office with a sense of newness and possibility. He is either inheriting a country that is going through the ringer and is seen as a savior knight in shining armor – or is inheriting a country going gang-busters and is expected to keep the good times rolling.

But as Mario Cuomo famously said, “You campaign in poetry and govern in prose”. When you campaign you can promise the sky. But there is no faking the governing as events unfold. Added to that bitter reality, is that at least half of DC (and often many of your own team) is telling everyone what a bozo you are.

And finally people get bored of you.

What will 2014 mean for Obama’s legacy and the Democrats in 2016? Who knows. But I guarantee that by 2022 and the 6th year of the next president’s administration – should she make it that far (no, I’m not saying it’s going to be Hillary, but it might be a woman.)  – Obama is going to be viewed more favorably than he is being today.

Call it the Truman rebound.

Harry Truman



What Did the 2014 Mid-Terms Tell Us?

November 5, 2014

“Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.” – George Bernard Shaw Now that the dust has settled on the 2014 mid-terms what have we learnt? Obviously, that the majority of votes went to the GOP candidates. But does this indicate a preference for Republicans […]

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If the Democrats Lose the Senate, Is It the End of Their World?

November 3, 2014

“The only people truly bound by campaign promises are the voters who believe them.” ― Christopher Hitchens The smart money says that the Democrats will lose the Senate in these mid-terms. So that’s the way to bet. But it is too close to call. And there is a significant likelihood that the result won’t be known until […]

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Media Panicking That There Is Nothing to Panic Over.

October 20, 2014

“People are sheep. TV is the shepherd.” ― Jess C. Scott Thank God there’s an election coming up – we might run out of Ebola cases and then what would the hysterical media report on? ISIS is letting down the side by failing to capture Kobani. Although they are trying by launching coordinated attack against the Kurds. […]

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A Democratic Playbook for the 2014 Mid-terms.

April 6, 2014

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  ― Winston Churchill The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats have a 60% chance of losing control of the Senate (h/t Nate Silver) and 0% chance of retaking the house. The further conventional wisdom is that Democrats’ only road to […]

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Really? 3/10/14 – Overheard at CPAC Last Week.

March 10, 2014

“Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.” ― George Bernard Shaw Last week, conservatives enjoyed their late winter love-in – the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The usual suspects were there. And conspicuous by their absence were most of the GOP mainstream. Following are some of the more memorable things said. Ben Carson on gay marriage. […]

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Has the Tea Party Peaked? What the Elections in Virginia and New Jersey (and Alabama) Tell Us.

November 6, 2013

Chris Christie’s easy victory in New Jersey, and McAuliffe’s closer effort in Virginia, provide good and bad news for both the GOP and the Democrats, but no good news for the Tea Party In Virginia, McAuliffe’s victory is, on its face, a Democratic success in a purple state. But his victory was over an extreme […]

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Sarah Palin is not going to run for the Senate in 2014 – despite what she is saying today.

July 11, 2013

Sarah Palin has announced that she might run for a Senate seat in Alaska in 2014. This has set the hearts of many a true believer aflutter. But they shouldn’t hold their breath. Palin is like Donald Trump, with his threats to run for President in 2016. They only have influence as potential candidates – […]

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The Republican lose more than just a Senate race in Massachusetts.

June 26, 2013

Gabriel Gomez was a very attractive Republican candidate for John Kerry’s old Senate seat in Massachusetts. And he was running against a classic tax and spend liberal, Ed Markey, who with 37 years in the House, is the epitome of the gridlock and partisanship in Washington. Gomez, the son of Colombian immigrants, is an ex-Navy pilot […]

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