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The Dems' unforced error in Hawaii

Democrats are arguing that their loss of a House seat in Hawaii’s special election on Saturday is not really significant, since two Democrats were on the ballot, and, between them, those Democrats got 59 percent of the vote.

It’s true that the seat ought to be strongly Democratic, and that the Hawaii race did not have the same national significance as the Democrats’ special election victory earlier in the week in a conservative district in Pennsylvania. But this race probably bothers Democrats more than they are letting on – or at least it should.

For one thing, the party’s utter lack of discipline in failing to settle an internal feud in advance of the voting suggests that local Democrats put settling scores ahead of the interests of the national party – and those of the state’s favorite son, President Obama.

For another, it’s harder to defeat an incumbent House member than it is to hold a seat, as newly elected Rep. Charles Djou will try to do this fall. I can imagine Djou casting as many votes as he can with the Democrats to show that he is a moderate in tune with his very Democratic state. I can even imagine conservative Republicans giving him plenty of leeway to do this, since they know there is no room in Hawaii for a right-winger. And Democrats will have to expend more resources than they should have to on a seat that should never have been in play.

What happened in Hawaii does not change the fact that Democrats are in better shape than the catastrophist conventional wisdom had it before last Tuesday’s primaries. The new view settling in is closer to the truth: that Republicans can’t count on taking over the House, that the G.O.P. has a lot of work to do, and that Democrats have a reasonable chance of holding their losses to acceptable levels this fall. Nonetheless, Hawaii was an avoidable problem for Democrats, and it gave Republicans something to smile about during a week that brought them mostly frowns – and too much Rand Paul footage.

By E.J. Dionne  | May 24, 2010; 4:38 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Can't agree with you more and I'm a yellow dog Democrat. How stupid and arrogant can the Democrats in Hawaii be? Let a Republican win because of childish rivalries? Did they learn nothing from the "win" of the pretty air-head Scott Brown? How bout we stick together and show some starch?

Posted by: wd1214 | May 24, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

You wrote: For one thing, the party’s utter lack of discipline in failing to settle an internal feud in advance of the voting suggests that local Democrats put settling scores ahead of the interests of the national party – and those of the state’s favorite son, President Obama.

I believe that another way of describing the situation is that there were two Democrats contesting for the seat -- one favored by folks in Washington, one favored by folks in the state. Neither would yield to the other.

How do you believe such disagreements should be resolved? Perhaps by an election? And there will now be a second election, in September. And then there will be a single Democrat.

Posted by: kipper72 | May 25, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Mr Dionne,

your editorial is a CLASSIC case of SELF-deception.

the DIMocRATS will be slaughtered at the polls in November, because the voters see them (CORRECTLY) as "out of touch" with "people like us", beholden & "bought & paid for" by the KOOK LEFT & the union bosses, filled with hubris & most of all that they voted for "healthcare reform", which was OPPOSED by about 70% of Americans.

on the day after the election, when you & the other DIMocRATS wake from your slumber, you will discover that the DIMs have lost BOTH houses of the Congress.
(i find it "interesting" that the more that the average voter learns about the BHO MIS-administration & the DIMocRAT majority, the LESS that they support them.)

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | May 25, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

A GOP type wins in Hawaii, so now suddenly Obama WAS born there. Hmmmm.....

Posted by: jckdoors | May 25, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

DIMocRATS - very witty. The intellectual side of the Tea Party/Republican party.

Posted by: tom412 | May 26, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

If Obama had never posted a manufactured paper on his own site, there would be no birther questions. Be up front, no prob. We have seen how Obama could be part of a church for his life time, then 'about face' when it reveals his true nature. Remember those people who 'cling to there guns and religion?' He has his bites he is learning to not reveal.

Hawaii GOP party is on an upswing. This is the time to take accountability to all who have spent, spent, spent, and expected an unlimited 'credit card' debt to China to be OK. Socialism of the car industry, and penalizing those who do not want to buy insurance at this time medical is forced socialism, not a free way to do things. Freedom, the party of Lincoln. We do not want to be enslaved to penalties if someone does not want to buy medical insurance; and no enslavement to debt to China. Spend only what we can afford, and allow people to actually earn their keep.

John Roco, a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate for Hawaii

Posted by: JohnRoco | May 27, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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