Nov 8 2012




The Daily Beast columnists and prominent political commentator Robert Shrum reviews this years elections from the perspective of myths, lies and losers. Shrum deserves enormous credit this year for being right on target in his support of the President, the politics of 2012 and his support of the President's message of economic populism.

Read his entire column but here are some important excerpts:

"A few months ago, the conventional wisdom doomed Obama on the grounds that no incumbent in modern times had won with unemployment above 7.2 percent. In fact, voters thought the rate was 7.5 percent on Ronald Reagan’s triumphant morning in America. In addition, until Reagan, the benchmark would have been 5.6 points. What the Reagan experience suggests—and Obama’s success validates—is that the decisive factor is no fixed number, but the direction in which the economy is moving. And for this president, despite a GOP determined to block every measure for recovery, the economy picked up and unemployment more than ticked down in the final months of the campaign."


"But Republicans grabbed onto the storm myth, and will cling to it amid the post-election wreckage, as a useful, even essential excuse, a rationalization to sustain a central Republican myth. The country, conservatives insist, shares their determination to dismember government and in effect repeal the New Deal and the 1960s. The President didn’t maneuver to accommodate this; he confronted it with a most full-throated populist campaign of any Democratic nominee in decades. Clinton offered a modulated, soft version of a populist appeal in 1992—“Put People First”—before he retreated to triangulation four years later. And he never arraigned the forces on the other side—or explicitly asked the defining question: who’s on your side? That’s exactly what Obama did as he transformed 2012 from referendum into choice—whether the issue was Bain or the auto bailout, tax justice or immigration reform, equal rights for women and minorities."


"So the notion that 2012 was a “small” election strikes me as entirely wrong. Yes, there were sound bites, gaffes, and concocted controversies; there always are. But at the heart of the campaign was a contest between progressive public purpose and a reversion to the “hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing” government castigated by Franklin Roosevelt. Republicans assumed, or hoped against the evidence, that America was Paul Ryan country—a place that yearned for the GOP vice-presidential nominee’s plan to shred the social safety net. The evidence now is in the voting of 2012. It also came a few days earlier—and this is where Hurricane Sandy is relevant—in the common resolve, voiced so pungently by New Jersey’s irrepressible Gov. Chris Christie, that it is a good and noble thing for government to help people in need."


"Karl Rove was more cautious than most conservative commentators, forecasting a Romney victory that just inched above 270 electoral votes. He had to make that call; Republican consultants who privately thought Mitt was going down publicly had to boost his chances. But what about Rove during Fox’s election night coverage, when he huffed and puffed that Ohio had been wrongly called for Obama. What about Michael Barone, the longtime author of the Almanac of American Politics, a liberal turned far right, who predicted Romney by 100 electoral votes? Or George Will, who awarded 321 electoral votes to the Republican? Dick Morris, dismissed from the 1996 Clinton campaign in disgrace, looked toward a Romney landslide. Jon Stewart promptly and aptly labeled Morris “the king of wrong mountain.” He will, of course, keep his place at Fox—whose motto ought to be: “All the news that fits our biases.” (Morris ultimately hedged his bet; he, like Rove, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and so many of the Romney rooters turned doubters of course blamed the storm.)"



"Greed was a loser as well—in the form of Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, and their fellow malefactors of great wealth who poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Super PACs. They were buying, they thought, visibly low taxes and the rollback of environmental protection and safeguards against speculation. The return on investment will be the opposite of what they calculated. And Rupert Murdoch, of Fox News, front-paged his election day with a photo of an empty Oval Office and the caption: “All This Office Needs Is a Leader?” Well, it has one—and Murdoch won’t like him. But why should we let billionaires run America for themselves—and why should we listen to a news distorter like Murdoch, whose journalistic enterprises in Britain are under criminal investigation?

Finally, prejudice lost. Jim Crow lost because minority voters faced down voter suppression—the 21st century equivalent of the poll tax—to cast their ballots. In Florida, they waited out the lines and broke through the barriers. Immigrant-bashing lost—and the GOP has to reexamine the party’s game plan if not its conscience or permanently face an impossible climb back to the White House. The repression of women lost, along with Akin in Missouri and the despicable Richard Muordock in Indiana, the Tea Party choice for the Senate who blurted that pregnancy as a result of rape was intended by God. There will be no Oresident Romney to defund Planned Parenthood or appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe V. Wade.

And anti-gay bigotry lost as voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington approved marriage equality. The first lesbian was elected to the United States Senate in Wisconsin and four new members of Congress are openly gay. How far have we come from 2004, when Rove exploited this issue to boost turnout for George W. Bush. Now we have a president who openly favors the right of same sex couples to marry—and he has just been reelected. There will be no return of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”—and no brief from a right-wing Justice Department supporting the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act—a pandering piece of legislation that Bill Clinton says he never should have signed.

The Catholic Church, with its heavy involvement in the campaigns against LGBT equality and its fellow-traveling with anti-contraception extremists, lost too—and most of all, in the eyes of millions of the Church’s own numbers. The bishops ought to recall and follow John Kennedy’s call to an America where no minister—or bishop—“would tell his parishioners for whom to vote.”