The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

And @AlecMacGillis Misses the Bus

Posted on | November 6, 2014 | 43 Comments

To quote what I said Wednesday:

The aftermath of a wave election always involves a contest by partisans and pundits to seize control of the narrative, to tell us What It Really Means, although usually the truth can only be known with the advantage of hindsight.

When Democrats sustain a world-historic ass-kicking, as they did Tuesday, a certain quality of unreality in the post-election spin is predictable. The demise of the Democrats’ moderate “Blue Dog” wing means that the party now has few if any sane adherents, and thus liberal journalists trying to explain the devastation of Democrats in the mid-terms are not apt to recognize the symptoms of madness.

Democrats Didn’t Lose Governor’s Races
Because of a GOP Wave. They Lost
Because of Bad Candidates.

So says Alec MacGillis of the New Republic, but it’s difficult to say that this is a distinction that matters, even if it were true. MacGillis talks about the Maryland governor’s race, in which Democrat Anthony Brown was defeated by Republican Larry Hogan:

[E]very single voter I spoke with Tuesday — including several who voted for Barack Obama — at a polling station in a swing district in Baltimore County, just outside the Baltimore city line in the Overlea neighborhood, brought up the rain tax.
The rain tax is a “stormwater management fee” signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2012 that requires the state’s nine largest counties, plus Baltimore city, to help fund the reduction of pollution in Chesapeake Bay caused by stormwater runoff. The tax is hardly draconian . . .
Yet everyone I spoke with cited it as the crowning example of the nickel-and-diming taxing regime under O’Malley that also includes the $60-per-year “flush tax” to upgrade sewage treatment plants and higher taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and gas. “The rain tax was the last straw,” said Mike Eline, 64, who does pest control at the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore. “How many taxes can there possibly be?” “It seems any reason they can, they say, ‘let’s tax the people,’” said Daniel, a 63-year-old African-American warehouse worker. “What really upsets me is the rain tax. Rain is something natural that’s just given to us. Nobody has to work for it. But they say, ‘let’s tax it.’”

Permit me to say that when a black Democrat in Baltimore — a bastion of Democrat loyalism, where Nancy Pelosi’s father was once boss of the notoriously corrupt political machine — can see the problem with his party’s policies, they’ve probably pushed it too far.

How is this inconsistent with the claim of a “GOP wave”? It’s not.

In fact, it’s the key to understanding the wave that MacGillis imagines himself to be disproving. The swelling progressive momentum of the Obama Age made Democrats believe they had reached the Promised Land and could enact bad policies without political consequence. No matter how high they raised taxes, no matter how onerous the regulatory regime, no matter how extreme the Democrat Party’s policy agenda, they could never lose — and then they did.

At the national level, pundits and triumphant Republicans are pointing to Republican Larry Hogan’s win over Brown in Maryland as the ultimate evidence of the 2014 anti-Democratic wave. Not only did Republicans win Senate seats in red and purple states, the claim goes, but they won governorships in true-blue Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois as well.
I’m skeptical of that claim. No doubt, disaffection and low turnout among core Democratic voters hurt the party’s gubernatorial candidates in blue states as it did Senate candidates in red and purple ones. And anti-Washington, anti-Obama sentiment certainly played a role in the GOP’s Senate takeover. But to explain why some Democratic gubernatorial candidates lost in blue states while others (such as Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island, Dannel Malloy in Connecticut, and John Hickenlooper in Colorado) managed to hang on, one really needs to take into account the state and local context of the races. . . .

You can read the whole thing, and see how MacGillis is employing psychological defense mechanisms — denial, rationalization, minimizing, smokescreening — one would expect to encounter in a family therapy session where the husband has been caught in adultery but wants to avoid personal responsibility for his wrongs. That makes MacGillis the co-dependent wife who is actually enabling her husband’s wrongful behavior. “How’s that working out for ya?”

WAKE UP, LIBERAL MEDIA! You are not helping Democrats by trying to convince Democrats they don’t have a problem. You are being manipulated by a narcissistic sociopath named Barack Obama.

It was as if he didnt lose the Senate, around 14 House seats, blue State Gov races that he campaigned for, and lots of State legislatures.
Condensed version:
People want us to work together.
People want us to get stuff done.
I’ll listen to whatever ideas are out there, as long as they are in agreement with me.
Minimum wage
Greatest economy in the world
Executive action on illegal immigration
Willing to improve ObamaCare, just not in ways they might want to.
Minimum wage
Illegal immigration
I increased oil production
Get stuff done
This sums it up quite nicely.



  • vermontaigne

    Good stuff, Stacy, but I want to quibble with your “world-historical ass-kicking” characterization. It was more properly a world-historical Hulk-hands fisting.

  • Art Deco

    MacGillis has a disagreeable history, which Ann Althouse remarked upon here:

    It’s indicative of the economy of contemporary journalism that MacGillis has departed the world of reporting for major metropolitan dailies (e.g. the WaPoo) and is taking what remuneration is available from magazines that have always been part of the philanthropic sector. The New Republic lacks the prestige of Smithsonian, alas. It’s also not nearly as engaging as it was when Michael Kinsley edited it.

    About a dozen years ago, Fred Barnes offered that he had been employed the latter half of his career at two opinion magazines, one loyal to the Democratic Party (though dissenting often) and one favoring the Republicans. Both employed interns. He said the interns at The New Republic were getting recruiting calls from metropolitan dailies as a matter of course but that he could hardly recall an alumnus of The Weekly Standard who was (ca 2001) working as an ordinary newspaper reporter, and it was not because they were low quality reporters.

    Here we have an interesting example of MacGillis, reduced to writing for opinion magazines but free to offer his own views, revealing to the world just the sort of person who lands a job at The Washington Post, which is hardly the most obnoxious MSM outlet.

  • Adobe_Walls

    One of the last Blue-Dogs went down in Georgia’s 12th District, Rep John Barrow (D). There are now no White Dems from the south in the house.

    Why do they keep citing ”mid-term” as a defense for their candidates and their voters? I blame the demise of civics in schools. That explains why Dem voters don’t know that US House Reps are elected every two years, not to mention many state Reps and Senators. That explains why they don’t know that every senator elected in a presidential cycle will face reelection in a mid-term cycle. Apparently they’re also unaware that most governors are elected in mid-term cycles. Perhaps it isn’t ignorance, maybe it’s just that their voters are stupid, or maybe it’s as simple as, Dem voters suck.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Did you have to go and ruin an otherwise fine post by quoting that arsehole LA ADA?

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Althouse has a disagreeable history too. But MacGillis is a partisan hack tool.

  • Art Deco

    There are now no White Dems from the south in the house.

    I think you mean the Deep South.

  • Art Deco

    I read Althouse with profit. She’s rather like Megan McArdle – not particularly aligned either way, square shooter, civil, and has some background to be well-informed on certain topics. She’s about the last person whose opinion journalism I’d complain about.

    I think ‘tool’ as the young people use the term captures it. Henry Fairlie (an old New Republic regular once offered that there’s a distinction between conservative newspapers and party newspapers and one should aspire to work for the former, not the latter. There’s a reason Martin Peretz has said he’s dismayed at what his successors have done to The New Republic (which was never absolutely ace under his aegis), and the output of this fellow MacGillis is an aspect of that.

    MacGillis needs to get out of journalism.

  • Adobe_Walls

    That’s correct, although what ”is the deep south” is somewhat contended.
    At any rate this is a disaster for the Democrats.

  • jakee308

    “Every single voter I talked to”, is the equivalent of “some say”, “experts say”, etc.

    It’s the written way of saying “this ain’t no sh!t” (which is usually the first phrase of a bullsh!t story)

    I grew up in farm/dairy country, I know what bovine excrement looks like, smells like and even feels like (don’t ask).

    Mr. MacGillis’ story is a heaping pile of such.

    Like saying: “well at least we came in second” in a duel.

  • jakee308

    He couldn’t be Captain on any ship in any Navy.

    Captain’s have to take responsibility, make decisions and adapt to adverse conditions.

    None of which the Occupant can do or ever has done or had to do.

  • Finrod Felagund

    It always encourages me to see Democrats learning the wrong lessons from defeat. It means they’re more likely to make the same mistakes in the future.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I did a Separated at Birth about Barack Obama and…?

  • Quartermaster

    “Deep South,” among the southerners I’ve known and lived among (and being a Southron my ownself) meant the Gulf States, GA, and SC.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    AA is not Megan McCardle. Not even close. AA is my doppelganger.

    But we are in agreement, MacGillis is a tool.

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  • jakee308

    Italian Captains of a cruise ship aren’t real Captains.

  • richard mcenroe

    Well, my Congressional district in Texas just sent a black man to Congress, but I don’t see him getting lumped in with Sheila Jackson Lee…

  • richard mcenroe

    Can’t wait for the IRS audit of Steyer…

  • Steve Skubinna

    “I’m skeptical of that claim.” says MacGillis. Okay then, that settles it. There was no wave because MacGillis is skeptical. Does that make him a denier?

    He basically seems to be saying “Republicans didn’t win! We just lost, is all! Nyah nyah nyah!” I am eagerly awaiting the first DNC operative with a by-line to claim that the Dems aren’t losing, their appeal is simply becoming more selective.

  • Eric Ashley

    Althouse is one of those ‘intellectual salon ladies’ from France and the eighteenth or seventeenth century who has parties at her house, and all the intellectual sorts of second rate go to, and they cheer when the real brains show up….

    Its more about being witty and clever than really deep. Its a very female thing.

  • Eric Ashley

    He has a functioning brain?

  • K-Bob

    It’s a totally safe strategy for barack. After all, George W. Bush never caught any flak at all for his use of the phrase, “Stay the course,” when asked about the War on Terror.

    Of course that’s only with regard to the War on Terror where he said that.

    Oh, and of course he caught all sorts of flak from the Dems and the media, which means I was probably being sarcastic.

    Be thankful I didn’t employ irony.

  • K-Bob

    I never enjoyed hanging around with people who frequently employ the technique of openly criticizing members of their profession/movement/party/team so they appear “reasonable” to members of the opposing group.

    It’s one thing to point out a glaring error**. You have to make sure stuff gets fixed, after all. And no one’s perfect. We all bash our own on occasion, like family.

    But that’s not what AA and people like Peggy Noonan do. They make a career out of criticizing people you’re supposed to think are on “our side” (whatever that is). Much of it for things that are not even true. (Witness the occasional PDS or anti-Tea Party strangeness they exhibit, for example.)

    AA’s dithering over whether she would vote for Obama was a sad spectacle.

    ** like Joni Ernst’s victory speech on Tuesday – never laugh (or clap) into the microphone, people! geez!

  • Bob Belvedere

    -And she did vote for The Lightgiver – twice, I believe.

    -That laugh of Mrs. Ernst drove me to switch channels, but, hey, she’s new.

  • Bob Belvedere

    You kinda look like Alanis Morissette.

  • McGehee

    Democrats Didn’t Lose Governor’s Races Because of a GOP Wave. They Lost Because of Bad Candidates

    Yup. Democrats.

  • Daniel Freeman

    I got one hand in my pocket
    And the other is throwing a peace sign

  • Pine Baroness

    Seriously, a tax on rain? Naturally Maryland State and local governments are exempt.

  • Art Deco

    I’m not exactly sure how Althouse, who’s a serious legal scholar, get’s lumped with someone whose claim to fame was a stint in Ronald Reagan’s pr apparat (who had sour relations with most of the others in that office and whose worked product has long been over-rated). which followed upon a stint as a research aide to Dan Rather.

    You’ve also confounded Althouse with Joe Scarborough and Conor Friedersdorf. There’s no reason to regard her as a poseur. She’s just someone whose opinions are not particularly stereotyped (rather like Megan McArdle or RM Kaus).

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    So are you also saying Obama is not a real president?

    I would argue both are in fact “captains” of their effective positions (in charge), but both suck at their respective jobs. Hence the comparison.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    She is hardly a serious legal scholar, she is a law professor with tenure at UW. Her blog rarely deals with legal issues anyway. She is getting smoked by Legal Insurrection and Volokh. She is a petty hack who voted for Obama. At least McArdle and Kaus are interesting. Why waste time reading her when there are so many better voices out there.

  • K-Bob

    Specifically, neither Noonan nor Althouse are being regarded as poseurs. They are simply as I wrote above, regardless of their prowess or backgrounds, they have the tendency I described.

    Stereotyping is a characteristic put upon one by others, so none of us can control that factor.

    No confusion here. For either one of them to linger under the spell of legend in which barack was cocooned by the media shows appalling disinterest in reality. As neither has shown a deficit in intellect that would explain such disinterest, I am left with two choices: 1) they really are as dumb as that makes them seem, or
    2) they deliberately created the affectation of seriously considering him as viable

    Since #2 is a common tactic and #1 is unlikely, I’m going with #2.

  • K-Bob

    Cuz I’m here

    to remind you?

  • K-Bob

    ‘fess Jacobson is one of the better minds out there, for sure.

  • K-Bob

    Next up, a tax on inhalation.

    You can exhale for free. For now.

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  • Steve Skubinna

    No the hell you can’t! That puts carbon into the atmosphere, you Gaia-raper!

  • K-Bob

    Yeah, well, she wanted it.

  • K-Bob

    I denounce myself.