Kim Strassel has a great piece in the Wall Street Journal about the dilemma moderate Democrats find themselves in. As an example of how precarious and unpredictable circumstances have become for moderates in Washington during this term, she uses the experiences of Walt Minnick, a “freshman” Representative from Idaho:
If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were looking ahead–to the endgame on health care, and the election beyond–she’d be thinking hard on Walt Minnick. That she isn’t explains the Democratic Party’s growing woes.
Rep. Minnick is one of Mrs. Pelosi’s “majority makers,” and a bit of a miracle at that. This is a guy who last year ousted an Idaho GOP incumbent by 4,000 votes. His district–rural, with a pinch of Boise–went 67% for George W. Bush in 2004, and 61% for John McCain. The last time Idaho sent a Democrat to Washington was the early 1990s. The time before that preceded color TV.
Political wonder though he may be, Mr. Minnick is these days being taken for granted. He’s a supercharged example of the mess Mrs. Pelosi has created for dozens of conservative and freshman Democrats with her liberal health-care legislation.
The eye catching number in that quote is the 61% margin by which John McCain carried Representative Minnick’s district in 2008. The 2010 mid terms will not experience the massive turnout that greeted the Obama candidacy in 2008.While Minnick has worked hard to distance himself from Obama/Pelosi policy debacles, he is already under attack in his district and the greatest threat to his reelection may not be the thrusts from his opponent but rather his own party:
Mrs. Pelosi and the White House surely realize the risk, too, though they may think sacrificing a dozen conservative Democrats on the altar of a sweeping health-care reform is worth it. But that doesn’t bode well for the Democratic Party’s attempts to recruit candidates for conservative districts, a project responsible for its current majority.
Much of the anxiety that grips the political lives of moderate Democrats in current debates is that they are concerned that they will find themselves being used as human shields in what is coming to resemble a Obama/Pelosi suicide mission.
Similarly, Daniel Henninger highlights another constituency that previously favored Obama but is now having second thoughts: the middle class and the rich.
…many of Mr. Obama’s supporters in the upper brackets of politics, who were expected to bear the burden of his “sacrifice” by meekly mailing in higher federal tax payments, are shocked at how high their top marginal rates could go.
This is especially true in high-tax Democratic utopias such as New York City, the famous ATM of Clinton-era fundraising, where the top marginal rate for all taxes could hit 60% if the health surtax is imposed. Mayor Mike Bloomberg is competing with Mr. Obama to pull tax revenue out of the same base of taxpayers, and Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to tap them for campaign contributions. Ask these two politicians what they’re hearing from this high-value swath of the Democratic base. Even the fattest cats in time discover the fairness issue.
.. The newly arrived inhabitants of the Obama White House, who this week floated the possibility of middle-class taxes to pay for their deficit, talk as if the states don’t exist. Factoring in the “millionaire” health surtax, the Tax Foundation’s recent analysis puts the top marginal rate over 50% in 39 states. This is nuts.
Yes, it’s nuts. And it’s the product of a political amatuer hour that the nation hasn’t witnessed in decades. In a mere six months this President and this Congress are attempting to force on an electorate changes in policy that were forged over decades. Dan Riehl has some very interesting comments on this:
That Obama fancies himself the one man in the universe with some new grand and golden vision is ridiculously grandiose. A great many others actually do understand it at least as well, if not better than he, they’ve simply rejected it for competing ideas. Obama either can’t see that out of arrogance, or he doesn’t care about it based upon a stubborn ignorance. And he doesn’t intend to let it get in his way. That single thing may go down as the biggest and worst mistake by a POTUS in contemporary times. And one can’t even predict the consequences of the confrontation Obama is fostering through his preening impatience.
The Obama/Pelosi zeal may, in the end, be defining characteristic of their political demise.