In the days before the midterm election, President Obama makes a final get-out-the-vote push for Democratic candidates at Midway Plaisance Park in Chicago. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In charting the last two years, from the euphoria of election night 2008 to the despair of election night 2010, I keep returning to Mario Cuomo's famous dictum that you campaign in poetry but govern in prose. The poetry of campaigning is lofty, gauzy, full of possibility, a world where problems are solved just because we want them to be and opposition melts away before us. The prose of governing is messy and maddening, full of compromises and half-victories that leave a sour taste in one's mouth.
There are many ways in which one can criticize the strategy the White House employed in its effort to limit losses in this year's elections, but this is about the dumbest thing I've yet heard a Democrat say in the current round of recriminations:
"There doesn't seem to be anybody in the White House who's got any idea what it's like to lie awake at night worried about money and worried about things slipping away," said retiring Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). "They're all intellectually smart. They've got their numbers. But they don't feel any of it, and I think people sense that."
One of the reasons most of us find politics so fascinating is that it's dynamic. There's always another election around the corner, the personalities are always shifting, and every new event is different in many ways than the one before it. Nevertheless, whenever someone says, "Everything is different now," they're probably wrong. Case in point: