Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi shows that being in the minority is harder than she thought as she tries to advance the theory that elections really aren’t that important after all.

Pelosi took a shot at the Tea Party with her call to the Republicans to “take back your party”  showing that she doesn’t understand how much the political landscape has changed.

As for talking about shared values Pelosi must have forgotten what she said about the Republicans  a few years ago:

We must draw clear distinctions between our vision of the future and the extreme policies put forward by the Republicans. We cannot allow Republicans to pretend they share our values and then legislate against those values without consequence.

Sounds like Chuck Schumer.

Of course Pelosi and her fellow Democrats were singing a different tune in 2006 when they took control of Congress and in 2008 when Barack Obama won the presidency calling it a mandate which sure sounds to me like elections matter.

 

What a difference a year makes!  Just last November then Sen. Barack Obama fueled by anti-Bush and anti-Republican sentiment swept fellow Sen. John McCain to capture the White House.  Exuberance and optimism filled the air as the Democrats also increased their numbers in the Senate and House giving them a feeling of invincibility as they planned to roll back the Republican agenda of the previous eight years.

After his inauguration in January everything started to go downhill fast.  Obama’s promise to not employ lobbyists in his administration was undone by a series of waivers,  the vaunted transparency initiative to make government more accountable is still stuck in a web of secrecy as the administration has learned that being too transparent also means exposing how the government really runs which isn’t a pretty picture.

Obama also promised an ethical administration but has been bogged down by ethical lapses that should have been resolved in the vetting process but were either ignored or overlooked.

In addition to the administrative issues that have dogged Obama during his first year in office have been the legislative failures with both the climate change and health care reform bills that formed the centerpieces of his agenda proving to be far more contentious that he expected and forcing him to abandon his pledge of bipartisanship that he made during the campaign.

Of course Obama’s biggest failure to date has been the economy.  As part of his hope and change strategy he led his supporters to believe that he knew how to turn the economy around and get people back to work.  Well he has been in charge for almost ten months now and despite a promise that unemployment wouldn’t top 8% if his $787 billion stimulus bill was passed the Labor Department announced today that the rate was 10.2% last month marking the first time in 26 years that it had topped the 10% mark.   Home foreclosures have been hitting new records every month despite the actions of the White House to provide relief.   Yet despite these failures he continues to push for more government aid in the hope that it will actually do some good.

But on Tuesday voters including many of those who voted for Obama one year ago started to abandon him in droves in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections.

In Virginia former Attorney General Bob McDonnell cruised to a surprisingly easy win capturing 58% of the vote and bringing with him fellow Republicans for Lt. Gov. and Attorney General.  Plus the GOP picked up six seats in the House of Delegates by ousting Democrat incumbents in Democrat strongholds.

New Jersey was a tighter race as incumbent Gov. John Corzine struggled to overcome corruption scandal issues and managed to garner just 44% of the vote  in a heavily Democrat state.

The White House downplayed the results and said the election wasn’t about Obama but local politics.  If that’s the case then why did Obama make five visits to New Jersey and do robocalls for Corzine if it wasn’t at least partially about him?  Or consider the odd statement the White House put out about the potential loss Creigh Deeds was facing in Virginia by saying that if Deeds loses it was due to the fact he didn’t align himself closely with the president.

Democrats also point to exit polls that showed a majority of voters saying they approved of Obama and that the economy and jobs were the major factor in the results.  Well maybe I’m missing something here but isn’t the president largely in charge of the economy  and jobs?

As Charles Krauthammer pointed out in his column today the myth that Obama’s victory last year signaled an FDR- like realignment was demolished by Tuesday’s results.

In Virginia where Obama won by six points, Bob McDonnell won by 17 – a 23 point swing.  In New Jersey went from plus 15 for the Democrats to minus 4- a 19 point swing.

The key to this change of sentiment was the independent voter.  Last year independents swung narrowly for Obama but in Virginia they voted Republican by a 33 point margin and in New Jersey by an even more shocking 30 points considering the make up of that electorate.

I guess Obama and the Democrats can take some solace in capturing the seat held by former Republican Rep. John McHugh.  But even that is somewhat illusory.  They won 49-46 with about 5% going to the Republican who dropped out and then supported the Democrat.  For a Conservative Party candidate to enter the race late, receive no money from the RNC  and then almost pull out a victory isn’t a big victory for the Democrats.  They’ll hold that seat until the next election, but it is far more likely that the GOP will reclaim it if they run a real campaign.

The only Democrat that I saw that was willing to be honest about the results Tuesday was Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia who said they got “walloped”.

Now that the bloom is off the rose will the Democrats and Obama try and listen to the voters in an effort to save themselves embarrassment next November?  Don’t bet on it.

 

As expected the Minnesota Supreme Court yesterday declared Democrat Al Franken the winner of the long disputed Senate race ousting incumbent Norm Coleman.

With this decision all that is left is for Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty to sign the election certification and Franken can claim his seat next week when the Senate returns to business.

In an era of increased scrutiny over election fraud this race now stands above all others for the way that the recount process was handled and in effect turned what should have been a Coleman victory into a narrow defeat.

On election night Coleman led Franken by just 725 votes out of 2.9 million triggering a recount.  After the initial canvass Coleman was still ahead by 215 votes and that set the Franken lawyers into overdrive.

Through a long and tedious process Franken’s lawyers managed to get disqualified votes counted for the Democrat while Coleman lost votes.

Then there was the case of the absentee ballots that numbered in the thousands that the Franken team claimed had been mistakenly rejected.  Thanks to their efforts another 1,350 absentee ballots from Franken friendly areas were added to the count while Coleman gained but a handful.  When the dust settled Franken was now on top by 312 votes.

It isn’t a surprise that the court ruled the way they did.  They really didn’t have a choice unless they were willing to completely overhaul the Minnesota election system which courts are loathe to do.

In the end Franken was able to steal a U.S. Senate seat by manipulating the system and taking advantage of uneven standards across the state that few were willing to admit existed.

After the court verdict Coleman told reporters that “Ours is a nation of laws, not men and women,” and that he respected the court’s decision and would abide by it.

Unfortunately for Coleman in this case justice didn’t prevail and he is now an ex-Senator.