Damian Palettapoints out clues Obama left in his press conference yesterday on where he might be able to compromise with the new Republican House majority. One of them had to do with congressional earmarks:
Earmarks: Mr. Obama said that this is one area where he could definitely find common ground with certain Republicans. “You know, I’m a strong believer that the earmarking process in Congress isn’t what the American people really want to see when it comes to making tough decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent,” he said.
As someone pretty invested in an institutional view of politics, I should say that last night's elections show the limits of the approach. If economic performance were the sole predictor of political results, then Sharron Angle should have won the Nevada Senate race without a problem; at 14.4 percent, the state has the highest unemployment rate in the country, and Harry Reid -- with an approval rating in the low thirties -- was practically the He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named of Nevada politics.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick C. Boucher (AP Photo/Bristol Herald Courier, David Crigger)
It's fitting that the first post-election column by an elected Democrat would be from Indiana's lame-duck senator, Evan Bayh, whose calling card is inoffensive, business-friendly centrism. His explanation for Tuesday's Democratic losses -- "Democrats were too liberal" -- is likely to be the standard one going forward, for the simple reason that it's easy. Whenever Democrats suffer an electoral loss, moderates and conservatives flood the nation's op-ed pages with a torrent of editorials blaming the left for the party's losses, declaring that this is a "center-right nation" and that Democrats should have never bothered governing.