Stu Rothenberg: ‘Even I am offended’ by the current level of politics and journalism

Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report decided not to wait for the results to unload his analysis, and it contains a level of disgust I’ve not seen from the usually phlegmatic veteran political analyst.

You should read the whole thing. It’s short and pithy and makes several points without any shilly-shallying. But for those who don’t click through, here are a few excerpts:

  • “Democrats never succeeded in changing the trajectory of the election cycle that developed roughly midway through last year. Once voters decided President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats weren’t the answer, the election cycle was set.”
  • “Democrats wanted to blame President George W. Bush and make the midterm elections a referendum on the last Republican president and the last Republican Congress. But while voters agreed that Obama inherited an economic mess from his predecessor, they saw the 2010 election as an opportunity to tell Obama how he was doing, not as a time to repeat their previous verdicts on Bush. Democrats insisted that the election was a choice, not a referendum. It certainly didn’t turn out that way. When one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, the election is always a referendum.”
  • “The first time you hear some idiot talking head on TV arguing Democrats lost because they compromised too much with Republicans during the past two years, turn the TV off. Yes, you will hear that case made, but it is inane and delusional. The Democrats’ biggest problem is not that their most liberal supporters stayed home.”
  • “Don’t read long-term trends into this election or any other.”
  • “GOP Congressional leaders surely understand that this election wasn’t about them and their party, and that they have no particular mandate. … Anyone who thinks this election is a mandate to repeal the entire Obama health care bill or abolish the Department of Education or repeal any amendment to the Constitution is somebody who truly doesn’t understand public opinion or elections.”
  • “Politics and political coverage has deteriorated to such a point that even I am offended by it — and I’m about as cynical as anyone. … Prime-time programming decisions by senior executives at Fox News and MSNBC apparently make financial sense, but they have undermined civility and divided the country. The country would be better off if starting at 4 p.m., the two networks ran test patterns for the rest of the night.”
  • “America’s celebrity culture has spilled over into politics. Today it is Sarah Palin. Tomorrow it will be someone else. People are so desperate to get their faces on TV that they will talk about anything.”
  • “Tomorrow, it will all begin again.”






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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/02/2010 - 01:25 pm.

    I agree totally with bullet point three and have already turned off the TV.

    I think this election is less a referendum on the President than it is on the Pelosi/Reid leadership team. Bush is gone; can’t fire him, but Pelosi and Reid have their jobs on the line, Pelosi as Speaker and Reid as Senator. Having come to power in the 2006 midterm election, they aren’t able to show the electorate clean hands.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/02/2010 - 03:09 pm.

    “Don’t read long-term trends into this election or any other.”

    That sounds like good advice, but it cannot be denied that Reagan’s small government legacy has had an effect that still resonates today with a large segment of American society…just ask Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/02/2010 - 03:52 pm.

    I agree, Eric. Rothenberg’s piece seems right on target. When you control the House, the Senate, and the White House, people expect you to get things done, not dither while attempting compromise with intractable opposition.

    If no one else will do so, I’ll be happy to be the one suggesting that Reagan’s “small-government legacy” CAN be denied. The perception of Reagan as a small-government conservative is, indeed, widespread, and not just among right-leaners. Reagan and his publicists worked very hard to maintain that image through his public statements, but the image has little basis in fact.

  4. Submitted by Brian Simon on 11/02/2010 - 04:02 pm.

    “Reagan’s small government legacy has had an effect that still resonates today with a large segment of American society”

    Which proves the adage that you can fool some of the people all of the time. Balooning deficits equal small government how, exactly?

  5. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 11/02/2010 - 04:39 pm.

    The Democrats did try to pin down the Republicans as to what part of “big government” they want to cut or abolish. The Republicans refused to be pinned down. If the past is any guide to future behavior, the things that will be cut will be things affecting the weakest in society. The war budget will not be cut. The subsidies to agribusiness and big energy will not be cut. Homeland Security and the powers to engage in warrantless surveillance will not be curtailed. A Republican Congress will start investigations to investigate the President’s birth certificate, his supposed Communist Fascist associates and tendencies and any other conspiracy, nut-job theory some tea-baggers have as long as it ties up the government and ends up impeaching President Obama. If we’re lucky we’ll have another Terry Schiavo Congressional sideshow. “Small government” indeed.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/02/2010 - 07:40 pm.

    The fact of the matter is that the right will always struggle in the long run in a capitalistic democracy with relative political equality. The right, by principle, are “conservatives”. The term “conservative” means that they are hesitant to change status quo. Furthermore, the right advocates, as a principle, less government control. Both of these principles are merely the motivations of the wealthy. After all, if I am wealthy (doing whatever I am doing in society), then I don’t want to change the rules of the game. Doing so only presents risks to me; being on top of the pile means I don’t want any shaking less I fall from my perch. If I am wealthy, then I would want to embrace free markets as well; afterall, my wealth gives me privileges over my competitors. If no “rules” are enacted, I can always use my wealth as an advantage to continue winning the games of society/economy. That is what the right is really about, helping the wealthy stay exactly where they are in society.

    The problem for right leaning parties like the GOP is obvious: there are always more poor people than wealthy people. I am not saying that poor people are saints; they act in their own interests just like the wealthy and therefore will want to change the status quo and hope that the government will come in and give them a helping hand to compete because without further support, they can never compete with those who are already wealthy. Therefore, it is very natural to assume that poor people lean left – they DON’T want to be conservative and conserve the status quo because in the status quo they are poor! With the poor out-numbering the rich, countries will move continuously left as they develop – we see this to be true from modern Western history.

    However, the right has adopted a strategy to deal with this seemingly hopeless situation in the short term. Move the arguments away from economics and living standards and onto something that can rally up the “non-logical” parts of peoples brains: focus on people’s innate xenophobia, on people’s innate faith on religion, on people’s illogical pledges to nationalism. Using this strategy, the right can push a blatantly pro-wealthy economic/practical agenda while not losing in an election from the back-lash of the mass of relatively poorer citizens. Build a smokescreen, if you will.

    That is what the right is really about, that is why eventually they will get stuck in a position where we see Republicans are at today. They are playing a con game – if you really believed in free markets, you would openly accept immigration or any sort of activity that will allow for freely moving labor wouldn’t you? The right is all about playing the religion/race/nationalism game on the mass to run an economic agenda that actually hurts that very same mass in order to benefit the wealthy, simple as that.

  7. Submitted by John E Iacono on 11/03/2010 - 07:02 am.

    I’ll add one to Rothenberg’s comments:

    In my opinion once again we have seen the tried and true corrupting power of a party machine.

    In our precinct at 7:00am there were 2,200 registered voters, a little less than the 08 turnout. By the end of the evening, 2,700 ballots had been counted. Then this morning the total had been adjusted to 1461, an unlikely number if a simple double addition had occurred. A computer glitch was blamed. All the votes had already been counted when the first numbers came out.

    Anyone who believes these stunning facts were due to greater than presidential election zeal can have a Monty Python “wink, wink” in my book.

    As we wait for St. Louis County to get its final numbers in, I can only wonder how many Dayton votes were actually cast by legitimate voters.

  8. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/05/2010 - 10:17 am.

    No doubt a conspiracy at every turn. There are still quite a few folks that believe in a gunman on the grassy knoll in Dallas. Despite evidence to the contrary. Who knows, all sorts of forces out there I could suppose…..

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