The Other McCain

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

NY-25 Flashback: Dan Maffei Still Trying to Comprehend His Own Defeat

Posted on | March 29, 2011 | 10 Comments

Perhaps you can imagine the big grin with which I’m writing this, as I think back on that day last October when Da Tech Guy and I arrived in New York’s 25th District and the front-page headline was: “Dan Maffei leads Anne Marie Buerkle by 12 points in new poll.”

That would be former Democratic congressman Dan Maffei, who ended up losing by 567 votes to Republican Ann Marie Buerkle, and who the Politico reports is still trying to figure out how he lost:

As victims of the House Democratic election massacre speak out about what caused their ouster last November, they are pointing their fingers squarely at a Washington duo: Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.
Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) moved their party’s agenda too far left during the past Congress. And then they failed to help rescue the party’s mostly supportive lawmakers, two defeated first-termers who have joined Washington-based think tanks said Tuesday.
“Moderates and independents who leaned toward Obama didn’t come out because they saw a continuing polarization. Health reform was only supported by Democrats. So, the message from Washington was that Obama was getting his way,” said former Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), who has become a senior fellow with Third Way, the centrist Democratic group.
Party leaders and liberal allies told him that he was too pessimistic last fall when he warned them that he was in danger of losing. Obama and Pelosi “couldn’t bring themselves to believe that it would be this bad,” said Maffei, who unsuccessfully sought a late campaign stop by Obama. “Low turnout was why I lost. My opponent [Republican Ann Marie Buerkle] was seen as fringe and voters didn’t think she could win.”

Look, if Dan Maffei wants to make excuses and scapegoat other people for his own failures, I suppose I ought to just laugh and move on. However, Maffei is actually kind of close to being right about what Obama and Pelosi did wrong. And the weird thing is, Democrats had plenty of warning . . . from me.

It was March 19, 2010, and Democrats were still wrangling over the ridiculous “deem-and-pass” maneuver to enact ObamaCare without having to go back for a vote in the Senate, when I wrote an American Spectator column titled “Democrats in the Deathmobile”:

Does anyone else remember what happened Jan. 19? Did anyone else watch the confetti fly and hear the band play in the ballroom of Boston’s Park Plaza Hotel two months ago? Or was the election of a Republican to the Senate seat held for more than four decades by Ted Kennedy merely a dream?
Scott Brown won by pledging to be the Senate’s “41st vote” against Obamacare, but Nancy Pelosi and her fellow House Democrats seem intent on pretending that Brown’s historic victory in Massachusetts never happened as they prepare to enact the president’s health care plan By Any Means Necessary.
Pelosi’s implacable determination in the face of such clear indicators that voters oppose this measure has left opponents straining for analogies to describe the arguably unconstitutional process. Lindsey Graham insulted the Japanese by comparing Democrats to kamikaze pilots “liquored up on sake” for a suicide mission. It might be more diplomatic to compare Democratic maneuvers to the Animal House scene of Delta Tau Chi brothers crammed inside their hurtling Deathmobile: “Ramming speed!” . . .

You can go read the rest of that and see that it was plainly apparent (to me, if to no one else) that Pelosi and other Democrats had made a political calculation that they could ram through ObamaCare and — despite every indication of voter opposition — then expect voters to change their minds before November arrived.

Five days later — on March 24, 2010 — after Democrats had rammed it through anyway, I wrote another American Spectator column titled, “Winning Washington, Losing America” :

Seven months is a long time in politics. Seven months ago, in August 2009, Democrats still held the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey. Rep. Parker Griffith was still a Democrat, Rep. Eric Massa was still a member of Congress in good standing, and Sen. Evan Bayh hadn’t announced his retirement. Seven months ago, it had not yet been reported that unemployment had reached a 26-year high of 9.7 percent. Ted Kennedy was still alive and even those who knew that “the liberal lions of the Senate” was at death’s door had no inkling he would soon be replaced by a truck-driving Republican from Wrentham.
A lot of things have changed in seven months, but amid all the changes, ObamaCare has been reliably unpopular. In August 2009, 53 percent of likely voters surveyed by Rasmussen Reports opposed it, whereas 54 percent opposed it last week in the final Rasmussen survey before Nancy Pelosi rammed a “reconciliation” version of the bill through the House on a party-line vote.
Seven months and one week before Election Day, Democrats have begun declaring loudly that the one constant of the past seven months will change dramatically between now and Nov. 2. Unpopular as a legislative proposal, ObamaCare will be enthusiastically embraced by voters, we are assured by Democrats and their media friends, now that it is a fait accompli. . . .

You can go read the rest of that, too, and see if there is any reason for Democrats to claim they weren’t warned to expect a royal ass-kicking on Election Day. And when all was said and done — when Buerkle was finally declared a winner, the 63rd GOP pickup of the historic mid-term landslide — I wrote another column called “The Republican Mandate” that included this:

“It will be very hard for Republicans to take the House if they don’t break the Democrats’ power in the Northeast — and they still have to prove they can do that,” [Washington Post columnist E.J.] Dionne wrote five weeks before Election Day, in a column that featured this quote from Dan Maffei: “When we do retain the majority… people are going to look at the map and see that the Northeast held.” Dionne predicted: “Absent a Republican wave of historic proportions, [Maffei’s] seat now seems out of the GOP’s reach.”

Hey, fuck you, E.J. Dionne, and fuck you, too, Dan Maffei: You were dead wrong and I was right all along.

But when it comes to the bottom line of who cost Dan Maffei re-election, the answer is still: Dan Maffei, whose name I find in the “ayes” column on the roll call vote for final passage of H.R. 3962: The Affordable Health Care for America Act.

That bill passed 220-215 with just one Republican vote (good-bye, Joseph Cao!) and 39 Democrats voted “no.”

Why didn’t Dan Maffei vote “no”?

Why didn’t former Democratic congressman Ron Klein vote “no”? (Klein lost to Allen West in Florida.) Why didn’t former Democratic congressman Jim Oberstar vote “no”? (Oberstar lost to Chip Cravaack in Minnesota.) Why didn’t former Democratic congressman Paul Kanjorski vote “no”? (Kanjorski lost to Lou Barletta in Pennsylvania.) Why didn’t former Democratic congressman John Spratt vote “no”? (Spratt lost to Mick Mulvaney in South Carolina.)

Right there I count five former Democratic congresssmen who voted “aye” — Maffei, Klein, Oberstar, Kanjorski and Spratt — who, had they voted “no,” could have defeated H.R. 3962, and those Democrats might still be in Congress today.

So don’t let me hear any of you former Democratic congressmen blame anyone else for your defeat but yourselves, you whiny little bitches.


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