Sometime a little after noon on Thursday, January 21 — two days after a previously unknown pinup boy and Republican state senator in Massachusetts single-handedly destroyed the Democratic Party by winning a special election to replace Sen. Edward M. Kennedy — KMBZ 980's conservative talk-show host Darla Jaye signed on to her Twitter account, where she is known to post astute political commentary.
"Even the Germans see that Hope and Change is Hopeless!" she wrote, including a link to a media outlet. "Obama=FAIL!"
Darla's tweet sent her followers to Spiegel Online International, where the headline reported: "The World Bids Farewell to Obama." A photo depicted the president with his head hung and his hand across his eyes as if he were about to start crying. (It's a tight shot, so he could have been looking down to read the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act or some other piece of socialist legislation.) Anyway, he did not look happy. The caption? "U.S. President Barack Obama suffered a painful defeat in Massachusetts on Tuesday. With mid-term elections looming, it means that Obama will have to fundamentally re-think his political course. German commentators say it is the end of hope."
The end of hope!
In fairness to Jaye, we know that she wouldn't really revel in the death of "hope" and "change" — at least as concepts that denote healthy impulses in human nature and history. We know this because of "The Big Tease," Alan Scherstuhl's excellent profile of Jaye in the December 10, 2009, edition of The Pitch. Discussing racism, Jaye told Scherstuhl that wasn't the reason her listeners didn't like the president. "The vast majority of people who listen to my show don't like him because of his policies or his associations, or because they feel he wasn't qualified for the job. They don't like him because he won by just saying hope and change, change and hope for a year."
But wait — scrap that "in fairness to Jaye," because "just saying hope and change, change and hope" was not the only reason Obama won. There were, after all, those two wars that the previous president had started (where was Rep. Joe Wilson to yell "You lie!" when George W. Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction?) and an economy gurgling down the crapper. Just to name a couple.
A majority of Americans voted rationally. And then a rabble of sign-carrying loudmouths started getting hysterical, and the flaccid, worn-out, gutted (and gutless) national media started taking the hysteria way more seriously than it deserved. And the big-money interests that bankroll Congress dug in against change.
And the Democratic establishment blinked.
In that sense, the death of hope came long before Scott Somebody's election to the U.S. Senate last week.
Apologies for bursting the right wing's gleeful bubble of delusion, then, but the country's politics aren't swinging their way because Obama "over-reached," to use one of Republican strategists' most effective buzzwords. Democrats are in trouble because they've been pussies.
And they know it.
"Our base of people who put Obama in office don't feel like the national Democratic Party is following through, so they have no reason to come out and support our candidates," admits Stephen Bough, chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Committee.
"We're supposed to dance with the one that brung us," Bough says. "The people who wanted universal health care — we've sold them down the river. The folks who want to see us out of war — we could be doing something besides escalating wars. Union folks want an equal chance to have their votes heard on unionization. Schoolteachers want reforms to education. The gays and lesbians who stood up and fought for the Democrats have every reason to feel abandoned — the administration, by executive order, could get rid of 'don't ask, don't tell.' Politicians need to give a damn about their supporters and the issues that are important to those people."