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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Friday Question -- open thread

By Jennifer Rubin

Every Friday about this time I'll pose a question and throw it out to the readers. You have until Sunday at 6 p.m. ET to add comments. I promise to read them all, pick the most interesting and discuss it on Monday. I have a preference for comments that don't necessarily agree with me ideologically, but that make smart points. You get extra credit for humor. If you write in ALL CAPS, you're disqualified.

Today's question: What should each party have learned from the 2010 midterms and what incorrect conclusion are they most likely to extract? Go for it.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 3, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Friday question  
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Comments

What Democrats should have learned from 2010? 2008 was not a progressive mandate.

What incorrect conclusion will they draw? That a happy base will equal electoral success.

What Republicans should have learned from 2010? That the only thing voters care about is jobs.

What incorrect conclusion will they draw? That voters want them to take on entitlements right now.

Posted by: sold2u | December 3, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I think this particular election should be taken as a part of a pattern. Control of the House has switched back and forth relatively quickly in recent history, considering the long-term Democratic control until the 90s. I think the American people, at least those of a more independent mindset don't believe either party is being honest with them about the problems we face or the right solutions to those problems, and the parties appear to be unwilling to compromise (one party more than the other, I think, but I'm trying not to be partisan) so we're kind of stuck with a one or the other choice.

Each one will hold power until the other side's base is riled up enough and enough people in the middle have had it with the powers-that-currently-be then the other side gets in.

Basically, they should learn that whatever their solutions, they aren't all right, and their opponent's aren't all wrong, and you continue to snipe back and forth at your respective party's peril.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | December 3, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Both parties should learn that we are coming to the end of the Third American Republic, and the Fourth American Republic will start in sometime in the next 10 years: http://www.american.com/archive/2009/april-2009/the-coming-of-the-fourth-american-republic/

Each Republic lasts for about a generation (70-80) years, and start by general agreement on politics (i.e.: low political polarization).

As the Republic ages, getting closer to its ends, the cracks grow bigger & bigger, and solutions are not obvious. This leads to great political polarization.

This has been an ongoing process in America, especially in the last 6 years, which as Michael Barone writes is increase fluidity in politic elections (2006, 2008, & 2010).

I believe this process will keep going on, and the 2012 election will be an even larger shock than 2010 was.

This will continue, until the American People decide on the structure of the 4th American Republic, after which politics will settle down (as their will be overall consensus in the country again) and polarization ill decrease.

The reason the third American Republic will end is simple: We just can't afford the entitlement state.

What the two parties will should learn.

Democrats: Democratic Socalism is coming to and end, and with it the Third American Republic. Obamacare will be the leading edge of ending the third American Republic, as part of making it obvious we can no longer afford Democratic Socialism (i.e.: What FDR founded as part of the third American Republic).

Republicans: They are as much of a problem as the Democrats. One of the two parties is liable to become a minority party for a generaiton (or even disappear as the Federalist did at the end of the First American Republic). This could very easily happen to the Republicans. As Michael Barone writes, whichever party, successfully convincnes Americans that they can restore Economic Prosperity, will probably be the dominnant political party for the next generation.

What incorrect conclusion will both parties draw.

Democrats: It was a normal election they lost over messaging & they can win in 2012.

Republicans: They can win in 2012 by opposing Obama & Obamacare & offering responsible Third Republic Solutions.

Both parties need to be playing the long game, now is the time, to be prepared to offer economic solutions that convince Americans they should be the dominant political part in the coming Fourth American Republic.

Summary of Republics so far.

1780s - 1860s (Civil war). First Republic - Lead by Federalists.
1860s - 1930s (Great Depression) - Great Depression. Second Republic - Lead by Republicans.
1940s - 2010s - Third Republic - Lead by Democrats.
2020s onward - Fourth Republic - Lead by the part that offers best economic solutions.

(Each transition from one republic to another takes about 10 years).c

Posted by: amitgreen | December 3, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans may very well think they got a mandate to be "Republican" in the same sense that the Dems thought they had a mandate to act like Democrats in 2008.
In other words, there's no mandate to be socially conservative or progressive.
But the mandate is not really partisan...it's a matter of competence. The vast majority of citizens don't want to be socially engineered by their government, even if they often think others should be socially engineered. They simply want to be well-governed, in a fiscally responsible way in which the legitimate costs of government are fairly
allocated.
The game of robbing disfavored constituencies to gift those favored has got to stop. Our grandkids can't afford it any more.
If the Republicans can't stay focused, then the voters will have to do so, again, in 2012 and however long it takes.

Posted by: daskinner | December 3, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The 'mantra' of economic growth

The liberals don't understand 'private sector' investment, employment and growth. They believe the government creates jobs and growth through the 'Keynesian' multiplier of deficit spending. Their stimulus was pork, patronage, transfer payments and a 20 year wish list of liberal programs. The 'headwinds'; the uncertainty of taxes, regulation and government mandates has cast a negative cloud over the private sector. Paul Volcker told Obama in Feb 2009, 'fix the economy' and you will be able to do almost anything. Instead, Emanuel said 'we can't let this crisis go to waste', and proceeded to do everything to demoralize the private sector.

The incorrect conclusion: increase taxing and spending

Posted by: pmtodebush | December 3, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats should have learned that Republicans would rather gnaw a limb off than cooperate to find solutions to the country's ills. All the better if that limb belongs to a Democrat.

The Republicans will take the 2010 results as being given permission to once again try and animate the dead, rotting, stinking corpse of "trickle down" economics with a jolt of tax cuts to the very richest. It won't work, but it won't matter since they'll blame the resulting deficits on Democrats.

Posted by: newsraptor | December 3, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Each party should have learned that the American people are really really tired of beltway-insider politics-as-usual involving vote buying with taxpayer dollars for projects and programs that are targeted not to solve the republic’s problems so much as to placate and posture with respect to the politicians’ favorite lobbyists. (BTW, I suspect that this is simply beyond the comprehension of the people acclimated and addicted to power within “The Beltway”.)

The new Republicans on the scene are bringing this message with them to Washington. What will happen to them once they get inside the beltway bubble and start drinking the water (and wine) there is hard to discern at this point. I suspect that most of the old Republicans are like old madams looking for opportunities to corrupt the new virgins in their care because, Lord knows, it is going to be as hard as heck for them now to regain their own virginity.

The regressive Progressives are presently are working overtime to assure the nation that they most definitely have not learned that lesson. No, no; heaven forbid. The same good ol’ tax & spend nostrums are all they have in their bedraggled kit bag.

In short I expect things will be not much different than, say, the 2005-06 Congress with minor role reversals; but if this state of affairs continues to stir up the Tea Party movement in the rest of the country, things could genuinely be interesting and hopeful come 2012. Otherwise, this country is about as hopeless as a patient with stage 3 cancer: not dead but nearly impossible to save, especially with a morphine-addicted medical staff.

Posted by: nvjma | December 3, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans should learn that when they say "no new taxes" and talk up fiscal discipline, they'd better mean it. And the biggest mistake they could make would be to think that the Tea Party insurgency will simmer down, and they can go back to business as usual. Any one of them can be primaried, and can lose. (But I don't know how likely they are to make that mistake.)

The Democrats--that's tough. They should learn that they need to jettison their left wing. But they are their left-wing. So, those that don't want to be in a party likely to be reduced to a tenuous coastal presence over the next few cycles should join the Republicans. A few individuals will, but most, as we can see from the commenters here, won't learn anything--it's cyclical, its messaging, it's Republican dirty tricks, it's all overblown, it was really a nail-biter and not a blow-out, etc. So, they will make the big mistake of thinking that what they really need is much more of the same.

By the way, I think you are very smart to accede to the request of many commenters that you respond to comments, and this is a good way of doing it. As you can see, you are a bit of lightning rod--some love you and others love to hate you, and others will come here everyday to say how irrelevant you are. Turning all this into a kind of contest is a great idea (kind of like that "comment of the day" feature Contentions used to have, but better).

Posted by: adam62 | December 3, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

There is a natural pendulum between the parties - if a party does well, its time in the White House is extended, if it does not do well, the time is cut short.


At this point, the democrats talked up 2008 like it was a major change in the electorate. It wasn't.

In fact, in early September McCain was ahead until the economic crisis hit. In addition, Obama had a massive financial advantage because he lied and then pulled out of the Campaign Finance System.


So, 2008 was clearly not what Obama or the democrats thought it was.


However, for the past two years, Obama has been over-playing his hand. The health care plan is a complete disaster, and Obama would be wise to re-open that bill and Compromise fast.


The democrats do not want to take that - they keep on harping on their liberal agenda.


The Republicans in Washington have it right - they have taken a humble approach to the election victory, and at least on that personality trait, they are happy to be the anti-Obama.

_______________________


The idea that each party should take care of their bases - and forget about the center is just wrong. It has been wrong all year.

For some reason, the democrats thought they had enough votes in their base that they could ignore the center. I don't know how they got that idea.


If anything, the Republicans were so confident this year, their turn-out was a bit down than it could have been should the election had been perceived as close.

_____________________________


The vast sums of money is still influencing the races. The democrats had so much money this year - they were able to create a "firewall" for some Senate races.

So, in that respect, the democrats were able to save themselves some losses.

Without the massive money advantage had in 2008, and the extra money the democrats put into their firewall this year, the elections would have yielded clearer picture of where the American People really are: a great deal more to the right than the election results show.


Obama and the democrats fooled themselves with the extra money they had in 2008.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 3, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Dems: should have learned that gerrymandering safe seats is a one-way ticket to minority status. Did learn: my seat is safe unless somebody even further to my left runs in the primary, so hew left.

Republicans: should have learned that there's a real desire for fiscal responsibility and they have been entrusted with it... as far as they can be thrown. Did learn: business as usual is just fine as long as we don't let Sarah Palin pick wackos to run.

Ruy Teixeira: should have learned that demographics aren't destiny. Did learn: demographics will be destiny soon!

Posted by: mgmax | December 3, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

The job of politicians is to get elected. After 2010, politicians from both parties will understand that in order to win both primary and general elections, they will need to show voters that they achieved positive results for both the economy and the long term deficit problem. Therefore, there will be real competition to be seen leading and reaching bipartisan solutions. The country will be the winner. The exception will be the outer wings of both parties who will feel ambushed by their more centrist colleagues. They will be the dogs barking while the caravan rolls on.

Posted by: gilliesproust | December 3, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

The election, along with the economic meltdown in Europe should have made the democrats realize that their entire world-view has been based on a belief in lies.

Unfortunately, since the mental hospitals in DC aren't overflowing with progressives huddled around a thorazine-drip, I figure they probably believe that they just need to keep writing more legislation that makes Soros money, so he can buy the next one for them.


The Republicans should have learned that Americans are awake, and now is the time to educate them on why conservatism is the answer.
Not cheesy lines, but explain in detail what the benefit is in cutting taxes, or reducing costly regulations, or why we need to cut the size of government. And they shouldn't be distracted by these stupid side issues. They need to stay focused on delivering the message...not a generic republican message, a conservative, small-government, big-economy message.

Unfortunately, they will probably go the way of the republicans of the past, and just keep all of those programs in place, and enjoy wielding the same power while they briefly have it.

Posted by: MrMeaner | December 3, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Democrats should have learned:
1. When people are out of work the only thing they really care about is finding work.
2. Giving other people's money away to your political friends is not a stimulus.
3. Being liked and being respected are not the same thing.

What the Democrats think they have learned:
It is possible for adults to put their fingers in their ears and yell, "Da Da Di Da, I can't hear you", regardless of how loud the voters are screaming at you to stop! How else can one explain the election of Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader?

What Republicans should have learned:
1. Just because you've been given the majority doesn't mean the voters now want you to spend other people's money on your friends.
2. Modesty can be a becoming attribute even in a politician.
3. Put yourself in the place of the average citizen and act like a responsible adult.

What the Republicans think they have learned:
The American citizenry wants $1 of government for $1. Unfortunately, they still want $1 of government for $.67 especially if it's belongs to someone else. Someone whose not even born yet is even better.

Posted by: ajweick | December 3, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

GOP right conclusion- Electability trumps ideological purity. Better a Sue Lowden than a Sharon Angle if it means Harry Reid. Better a Mike Castle than a Christine O'Donnell if it means Chris Coons.

GOP wrong conclusion- The public hates Obama and wants him to fail. GOP needs to tread carefully on the investigations. (even the Panthers, Jen)

Dem right conclusion- In a 40% conservative, 40% moderate, and 20% liberal nation, the liberal agenda will not succeed. There are just not enough safe left districts to push that agenda.

Dem wrong conclusion- If only we had made the stimulus program larger, the economy would have been stronger and we would have won. Americans are allergic to debt, both at the private and public level. The stimulus program failed, not because it was too small, but because it is too focused on paying people not to work and bailing out state and local governments.

Posted by: HappyReader | December 3, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Democrats: Thinking the election was primarily about the economy. Amazingly enough, Dems try to support this position by pointing to Reagan's mid-term elections in 1982. Yes, the GOP lost lots of House seats. And, um, they gained two seats in the Senate. Then there's 1994: the economy was growing, unemployment was declining. Maybe you can argue the economy was still weak enough for significant losses. But losing the House for the first time in 40 years???

Republicans: Thinking the election was about a turn to the right. Tea Partiers lost big in the Senate. O'Donnell and Angle lost elections any standard Republican would've won. Toomey won, but significantly underperformed the GOP candidate for governor who was far more moderate. Perhaps most telling that the Tea Party is dragging the GOP right -- and away from the general electorate -- was the fact that Miller won the nomination battle in Alaska, but then lost to Murkowski in the general (and was rejected by something like 65-70% of the electorate).

In my opinion, there is no way to reconcile the elections of 2006 and 2008 with 2010 by talking about these elections as left trends or right trends. Rather, the message of the electorate is rejecting either extreme and ideological agendas. Or to paraphrase the ever charismatic Michael Dukakis, it's about competence, not ideology. I think the results of 2006 and 2008 wasn't so much about Iraq and the economy, per se, as much as it was about a perceived incompetence in handling those issues by focusing on ideological agendas (particularly regarding Iraq) over pragmatic, competent approaches. And 2010 wasn't about the economy, per se, but about incompetence by pushing a stimulus that was perceived to have failed, universal health care rather than job creation, etc. Not only does this view reconcile 2006, 2008, and 2010, but it also reconciles various polls (e.g., polls seem to show that anywhere from 60% to 80% of the country want Dems and GOP to work together even if it means compromising their principles).

Basically, Dems projected the election returns in a way that was convenient with their ideology (it wasn't about pursuing universal health care, it was about the economy). The GOP projected the election returns in a way that was convenient with their ideology (it was about a turn to the right). And me? Oh, actually, I projected the election in a way that's convenient with my political values: non-ideological, moderate, pragmatic focus on competent governance. Go figure, I'm no better than anyone else.

Posted by: JamesCody | December 3, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the lack of clarity: my first two paragraphs above was what the parties incorrectly learned, the third paragraph was what they should have learned, and the fourth paragraph was questioning whether my third paragraph has as weak, self-serving foundations as the parties' conclusions do.

Posted by: JamesCody | December 3, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Should: "It's the economy, stupid!"

Will: We've only got two years "to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen!"

Posted by: wwoods2 | December 3, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Both of the parties should have learned that California's new moniker is no longer "The Golden State" but rather "More Cowbell"! In all seriousness, 90% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats in congress learned that good policy is good politics and that the electorate is actually in-charge. The remaining few apparently hit the snooze button during the election and awoke to the same ole' same ole'. I'm surey ou can guess who they are?

Posted by: belmontbob | December 3, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

The fallout from 2010 is still being sorted out, but off the bat both political party establishment's need to understand that the status quo is unacceptable to the American people. The people are far more engaged in politics today than at anytime in recent memory. A lot is due to the fallout of the collaspe of the financial system which swept Obama into power to begin with in 2008. The people got a sense that something was just not right with how the government responded with the TARP program. Afterwards, Obama who's scant resume prompted his campaign to embellished what he would do as President and so expectations were set that could not possibly be reached by his administration. It was really a tremendous failure of leadership in a crisis and the incompetence this administration has shown on issue after issue has been startling. The Tea Party Movement arose because there was a sense of disorder in our otherwise well functioning democracy. And it didn't help matters, when people like Rahm Emmanuel seemed to indicate that they were going to take advantage of the weaken state of our country to institute the type of progressive change that would threaten our freedom. So to answer the question I think the following should be learned by both parties, along with some incorrect conclusions

GOP: The lesson that should be learned is that the Tea Party Movement is the organization of the base of the party in a way that has never been seen, since the advent of the GOP. The GOP must be keen to stay in step with this base if it wishes to remain a viable political party going forward.
Incorrect conlusions: Would be to believe that this nascent Tea Party Movement can be undercut and undermined by the Establishment, because the high profiled defeats of O'Donnel, Buck, Angle, and Miller. Why? Because none of these races were a foregone conclusion with the Establishment's candidate if there's an honest assessment of each of these races.

DEMOCRATS: The lesson they should definitely learn is to not toy with our democracy to further an ideological agenda. They doggedly pursued an ideologically driven agenda, while ignoring the obvious problem at hand-job creation. Now more Americans today are on government assistance than at any time in U.S. history.
Incorrect conclusion: That they can continue to be doggedly partisan and ideological when it comes to government reform. Already we see with the deficit commission and their ideological position on the Bush tax cuts, they have not learned anything from the shellacking of 2010.

OBAMA: The lesson is he must become a leader and have a vision that is truly American, not global. If he continues to govern with his head in the clouds, he will be a one-term president.

PALIN: No matter what she does she will be scrutinized like no other figure in politics has. But her determination to make a difference paid off in 2010 and that's what will get her to to the nomination and potentially the White House in 2012.

Posted by: stevendufresne | December 3, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Should have learned:
Democrats: Obama is an anchor
Republicans: Palin is a sail

Likely to have learned, incorrectly:
Democrats: Policies are blameless
Republicans: Compromise is feasible

Posted by: fredwoudstra | December 3, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

The real question is what will the narrative be for elite media, Jennifer. No matter what the Parties do, the media will shape the events as they see them. Although we all should ignore the media, the politicians will not.

Posted by: d1carter | December 3, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Rubin,

I've been reading your posts for over two years at COMMENTARY. I'd really like to stay reading your writing. I'm a fan. The problem is that I live in NYC and am surrounded by liberals. Wait, no that's only one of my problems. Another is that I do a lot of reading on the subway on my iPhone (underground with no internet access). I use a blog reader app to preload all the latest posts from COMMENTARY, The Corner, The Blog at The Weekly Standard. When I tried to add your new blog, I discovered that The WaPo truncates your posts. When you're reading on the web there's a "Continue Reading This Post" link. In the app your post just gets cut off, sometimes mid sentence. I tried many different iPhone apps all to the same affect.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to read your blog on an iPhone (or iPad or Android, etc). On COMMENTARY the posts are almost never truncated, making for easy reading. I have to say, even when reading on my computer using a web browser I really dislike having to click on a "Continue Reading" link.

Is there anything that can be done about this?

Posted by: maxblowen | December 3, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

We have an era of repudiation:
Two terms of Nixon*
Repudiated by one term of Carter*
Repudiated by Three terms of Reagan/Bush*
repudiated by two terms of Clinton*,
Repudiated by two terms of Bush*,
repudiated by one term of Obama,
repudiated by the recent election.
*We need a spread sheet to factor in additional Congressional Election Repudiation of Presidents

The 1960-1968 period was previous to the Age of Repudiation because of the two Kennedy assasinations. I do not see the election of Kennedy as a Repudiation of Eisenhower.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 3, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats should realize that the methods they employed to pass legislation were a red flag for many Americans who may not appreciate the complexities of the legislation passed but realize that the methods the Democrats used to pass signaled there were reasons to find more information about the topic. The Democrats should also realize that the liberal monopoly of media outlets is over and that the American people can find out the truth through various means rather than just relying on the New York Times, NBC, etc. I am not just referring to Fox News as an alternative outlet but the entire gamut of magazines, bloggers, and emails that can be accessed with a few clicks on the keyboard. Also, don'd disdain and condescend; if you do, you will lose us. Every sound bite or You Tube clip can go viral and kill a candidate.

The GOP should be aware they are on probation and that the same forces that swayed the vast middle towards them this past election can swing the other direction in future years. The GOP should also be alert to the fact that many of this years winners are not "politicians" and thus appealed to Americans. They should be activley recruiting others to run in 2012 who share similar histories and goals as the vast swath of Americans. They should be cognizant that there are people who can win the votes of Tea Parties and their sympathizers and also be appealing to independent voters. The GOP should be working with these potential candidates now. The GOP, like the Democrats, should also listen to us

Posted by: edlasky | December 3, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Overall, these responses have been pretty good and thoughtful

And no one is fighting

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 3, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

We have an era of repudiation:
Two terms of Nixon*
Repudiated by one term of Carter*
Repudiated by Three terms of Reagan/Bush*
repudiated by two terms of Clinton*,
Repudiated by two terms of Bush*,
repudiated by one term of Obama,
repudiated by the recent election.
*We need a spread sheet to factor in additional Congressional Election Repudiation of Presidents

The 1960-1968 period was previous to the Age of Repudiation because of the two Kennedy assasinations. I do not see the election of Kennedy as a Repudiation of Eisenhower.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 3, 2010 10:09 PM


____________________________

Not a bad analysis


I would like to add


Johnson - the only one smart enough to get out early.

.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 3, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Both sides incorrectly concluded that bombing Iran will guarantee the dominance of Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas over the Middle East for the next century.

Both sides also incorrectly determined that Avigdor Lieberman can be trusted, serve as the leader of Israel, and decide against launching a unilateral military attack the United States when he becomes prime minister or merely in his current role as foreign minister.

Posted by: MarkinJC | December 3, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

The correct conclusions are some people are afraid of Obama thanks to FOX News and want jobs. Republicans were good at shifting the dialog from how their eight years of low taxes, minimum regulations and warmongering only nearly destroy the economics, raise the debt and set us back by a decade in jobs. The right message is people want the two parties to work together to fix the economy and the country. Be bold try new things. Anyone out of work for more than one year get a grant to go to a community college for two years to change career. Tax cuts are old idea. It was tested back 8 years ago and they don't work. Invest in education, infrastructures and science. Let's be a country that build things not just create papers to move money around. Let build things people want. Let found what companies like Apple, vizio, GE need to build factories in AMERICA and do it. Stop sending jobs to China and the rest of the world. Our people need work and our Government would rather fight among themselves then do something to pull us out this mild depression.

Posted by: daniel8 | December 3, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting how civil commenters can be when a clear set of parameters are established as to the direction of the discussion.

Posted by: Ken_Davis1 | December 3, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

What the Democrats should have learned: You can only fool all of the people some of the time.

What the Democrats actually learned: The reason we lost was because Obama wasn't far enough to the left aka. Try not to make the person you are fooling yourself.

What the Republicans should have learned: Sometimes being lucky is better than being good.

What the Republicans actually learned: Saying no to Obama and the Democrats tend to work really well with the electorate.

Posted by: goodspkr | December 4, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

The election of 2010 instructed the newly elected officials to follow the US Constitution; in particular, to limit the size, scope, and reach of government.

The elected officials of the 2011-2012 Congress will ignore these instructions, and therefor not be reelected in the November election of 2012.

This cycle will be repeated, indefinitely, until future elected officials acknowledge their false assumption, the American electorate will loose interest in smaller government --are misplaced.

Because the learning curve of the American politician is relatively flat when compared to that of a white lab rat.

Posted by: Maxfield1 | December 4, 2010 5:07 AM | Report abuse

Collectively, most salient statements have been made, although colored from various sides of political views. Key might be the statements concerning both the expense and the legality of many 'people programs'. Cyclic 'court' views on what the constitution says vice what it means seems to provide the force needed to cycle the pendulum of change. In the end, both parties should have learned that political office is a representative service, not a profession and the old saw of power corrupts more then people but government systems also.

Posted by: hbeavers | December 4, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

The lesson is the same for both parties.

Ideological purity leads to minority status, governing from the center (preferably center / right) leads to majorities.

Posted by: dcan1958 | December 4, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats should learn that their leaders are significantly to the left of the American public. What they appear to be 'learning' is that they simply did not communicate their leftist agenda correctly.

The GOP should learn that focusing very intently on economic growth, fiscal restraint and limited government is a big political winner, and will garner a vast coalition of voters - Dem, Repub, indie.

What the GOP probably will learn is that they'll spend slightly less than Democrats, only on their own pet issues and pork. Plus, they'll push issues that offend gay people and pro-choice people. I'm generally conservative but I really think at these times, we need to stay focused on economics.

Posted by: jmpickett | December 4, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Liberals (aka Democrats) learned, the hard way, that the conservative streak that runs through the center of America has not faded away, as they were thinking in 2008.

Liberals are shocked but if history repeats itself, again, they will learn nothing from their 2010 shellacking. They never do. They will be back trying to force fit their "progressive" ideology onto an unwilling America, starting now.

Posted by: battleground51 | December 4, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I THINK REPUBLICANS (oops, don't know how that key got mushed...)

Honestly, rather than try and come up with a great comment, I'm going to vote for the one adam62 wrote (December 3, 2010 5:53 PM)

It says pretty much what I think.

Posted by: chasart | December 4, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans must remember why they won by a landslide -- the public disgust with unaffordable, metastasizing government. They must stick to their core principles of limited government, low taxes, individual liberty, and the rule of law.

The Democrats, as shown by their conduct of the lame duck session, deserve Talleyrand's description of the Bourbons -- they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. A few recognize the looming fiscal disaster, but most are nothing but looters committed to deficit spending on behalf of their interest groups. Those Dems who face difficult re-elections may be susceptible to reason, but nothing important can get done as long as Obama is president.

Posted by: eoniii | December 4, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

eonii wrote:

"The Republicans must remember why they won by a landslide -- the public disgust with unaffordable, metastasizing government. They must stick to their core principles of limited government, low taxes, individual liberty, and the rule of law."

Of those, only the low taxes part is true.

Your comment about limited government is laughable in that Homeland Security was passed under a Republican initiative, the greatest expansion of government in our lifetimes since Medicare (that doesn't even mention the Medicare prescription drug program, also passed under a Republican administration).

Individual liberty went out the window with Bush's Patriot Act, or aren't you aware of it's provisions? When it comes to breaking the law, nobody does it better than the last administration, with documented case after case where wiretap law was simply ignored (we won't get into rendition) and you are after all the party of Nixon are you not?

Onre final note, the aree of limited government that IS true of Republican administrations, that of ceasing the function of watchdog, caused the greatest financial meltdown since the Depression.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the CFMA, both authored by then Senator Phil Gramm, (and to be fair signed by Democrat Bill Clinton, who had the average 5th graders understanding of finance) took a localized housing bubble in California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona, and blew it up into an internationsl crisis requiring superhuman efforts by Bernanke and Paulson to save the system. Gramm also co-authored the Enron scandal by introducing amendments to sepcifically exempt them from government regulation.

Finally, and not at all surprisingly, Gramm's wife Wendy, who was conveninetly head of the CFTC, negated any and all attempts to regulate the derivatives which created the situation.

But hey, thanks for the low taxes!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 4, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Let me get down to it. The victory of the Conservative-TeaParty-Republican coalition is important because it could put Ron Paul in charge of The Congressional Committee on monetary policy. Thus,for the first time since the reverse alchemy of 1971*1,we would have a leader who does not favor the Fiat money,floating Currency system established by executive order by Nixon in 1971. For those of you that have not been following this debate,Ron and I have been following this for almost 40 years,and we both believe that the 1971 incident was the most important economic event in the last forty years,and it was the shot that put the first hole in the dike of our economy.(This is now a gaping hole)
(1)It was a major Default on our national economic obligations which was to swap dollars for gold(for nations only)at the agreed price of $35 an oz. We defaulted on Billions of $s of those Gold obligations.
(2)As a direct consequence of this policy,the price of oil quadrupled in 1973,and has never looked back.
(3)The following are inarguably the results of 1971:
*Inflation
*Economic instability
*The Rise of Complex Derivatives
*Numerous asset and Debt Bubbles
*The Rise of the Shadow Banking System/Securitization replacing traditional banking
*The rise of off balance sheet accounting in Government and private businesses
*The policy of outsourcing
*The policy of running perpetual trade deficits
*The policy of Zero Interest Financing
*The Debt Overhang that is strangling both our government and our private economy
*The current instability of the Euro(same fiat system that we have)
*The events that began in the Summer of 2007,and lead to what I and Mr Paul call Great Depression 2
It was easy to go from Gold to paper;it will not be easy to reverse that policy,it may be impossible,if so (1)we will either default(2)or use our military to "obtain" assets
I have two references:
Read Arthur Burns just published diary"Inside the Nixon Administration" Burns was the architect of the 1971 change.
Also,Read Bernanke's recent speech in Germany where he all but admitted the "truth" about our currency. He said that our money had a structurial flaw that was the cause of the economic instability. That flaw has to be no backing.
Analysis:no Fiat money system in world history has lasted more than 50 years before its host nation was bankrupt,we are 40 years in our fiat system. Do you think we will be the exception?

*1Gold was changed to paper

Posted by: rcaruth | December 4, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse


54465446, such a lot of misinformation in one post! Where to start?

The Homeland Security Act was the brainchild of the 9/11 Commission intended to correct the stove-piping of information flows inside non-communicating bureaucracies that enabled the 9/11 terrorists despite obvious clues. Many conservatives thought it was just re-shuffling boxes on an organization chart.

The Patriot Act has succeeded in allowing us to gather through surveillance the intelligence to keep us safe. The Obama administration, as you must know, has continued virtually all of these practices and renewed the Patriot Act in the Dem-controlled Congress.

Rendition began in the Clinton administration. We returned terrorists to countries that practice vicious forms of interrogation and other mistreatment.

Your interpretation of the financial meltdown/housing bubble is simplistic and false. You really belief Wendy Graham was the main culprit? This was a bipartisan train wreck driven by, among others, the Fed, Congressional enablers of Freddie, Fannie and Countrywide, a dysfunctional banking system, and the moral hazard of "too big to fail". "Mark to market" accounting also exacerbated the crisis when markets froze up. Anyway, the salient point is that the Bush administration tried to rein in Freddie and Fannie and to give their regulators more power, but they were thwarted by Congress.

In general, you make a valid point that Republicans were complicit in much of the bad policy that led to the unsustainable expansion of government, but their failings are nothing compared to what's happened over the last two years.

Posted by: eoniii | December 4, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

This is pretty simple. It applies to each party. There is nothing that either party could have done to avoid the results. With high unemployment and a sluggish recovery, Democrats were going to lose big. And there isn't much that they could have done to prevent it. The economy is going to do what it is going to do. The government can't significantly change its course, and that holds true for either party.

And the opposite corollary holds true, the results weren't a referendum on Obama's policies. And it would be a mistake for either party to think that. And disregard the polls on that topic as well. When you have so much hyperbole and exaggeration about policy from either side, how can the public make an informed judgment? If the public was provided an objective analysis of what the healthcare law does or doesn't do, for example, and was then asked for its opinion based on the analysis, you might be able to get an accurate read on what the public thinks. Otherwise, you really don't know what public opinion is, and it's purely self serving to say you do.

Posted by: ml13 | December 4, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Here's some Grist for the Mill.

http://www.realclearmarkets.com/2010/12/03/ron_paul039s_moment_arrives_108280.html

http://www.forbes.com/2010/12/01/gold-dollar-economics-opinions-contributors-reuven-brenner.html

Articles supporting the reestablishment of Asset based Currency are now running about 20% of the total,before 2007,such articles were at 1%

Posted by: rcaruth | December 4, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Repubs shd have learned to follow the creative and principled lead of the Tea Party movement. Before 2009, they had nothing like it, and were taken by surprise.

Their most likely incorrect conclusion is that it's their turn at the trough. Their next most likely is that a systematic identification, public exposure and reversal of the Dems authoritarian measures would not be worth the effort - thereby acquiescing in the resulting decay of Constitutional government.

Demos shd have learned not to count on their rare supermajority to ram antidemocratic, authoritarian travesties of legislation through Congress.

Their most likely incorrect conclusion is that abuse of Executive branch powers to extend their unpopular, antidemocratic form of statism will fortify and prolong their corrosion of our Constitutional structure of government.

Posted by: InsufficientlySensitive | December 4, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

As a bit of a diversion, my response is largely in the form of a sing along. I hope you all know the tunes.

What incorrect conclusion did the Republicans draw from the midterm elections? The Republicans incorrectly concluded angry voters prefer their ideology over that of the Democrats.

However, the following is a snippet of the current “Angry Voter Song”:
**cue “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.**
If there’s something wrong in our neighborhood,
Who we gonna blame?
Obama!
If you’ve lost your job and it don’t look good,
Who we gonna blame?
Obama!

Winning by tapping into voter anger only means the GOP got angry voters to blame the other guy, President Obama, more than themselves. The conclusion the GOP should have drawn is that they are no more able to assuage this anger than are the Democrats because angry voters like to stay angry if it means they’ll get what they think they want. Because of this, the “Angry Voter Song” will soon change to something more like this:

**cue “I’ll Be There for You”, aka, the theme from “Friends,” by Michael Jay Skloff and Allee Willis **
You never told us it was going to be this way.
We work two jobs so we can get sufficient pay.
Don’t cut the programs that we like, you hear.
If you do, then watch and see how we respond in two to four years.
Cuz
We will turn on you!
(Cuz we’ve done that before.)
We will turn on you!
(We’re still angry and sore.)
We will turn on you!
(We’ll abandon you, too!)

What incorrect conclusion did the Democrats draw from the midterm elections?
*cue “Ghostbusters” again*
If the other side needs a whipping boy,
Who they gonna blame?
Our leader!
Pushing health care through was no easy ploy.
Who they gonna blame?
Our leader!

In other words, the Democrats incorrectly concluded that anger directed specifically toward the President cost them the House. Spruce up his image, make him more huggable, problem solved.

The lesson the Democrats should have learned was:
**cue “YMCA” by Jacques Morali, Henri Belolo & Victor Willis**
Stupid! How could you be so eff-ing-ly
Stupid! The economy’s all there is,
Stupid! Take your eye off and see the disaster fall upon you!
Stupid! Give the people some work to do.
Stupid! The economy’s all there is,
Stupid! We care only about this until our pals are working.

You forgot that it’s the Eee-con-oh-me!
You forgot that it’s the Eee-con-oh-me!
It’s the fear that we feel when there’s no dough for meals,
Don’t go giving us all a raw deal!

The Democrats oversold the TARP and economic stimulus packages and allowed their attention to be diverted from the only thing that mattered in the short run.

A lesson for both parties was written by Michael Gerson back in early November (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/01/AR2010110105103.html).
I'm out of characters or I'd print it here, but go and read the final graf.

Posted by: MsJS | December 4, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Democrats:

Should have learned - That the voters want the profligate spending to end.

Incorrect conclusion - That the voters want more profligate spending.

Republicans:

Incorrect conclusion - That the voters are now "Pro Republican."

Should have learned - Now is the time to not only oppose the policies of the Democrats, but to actively question the foundations of liberalism - the very narrative that the Left posits.

By this, I mean not saying "it's a bad idea to raise taxes during a recession," but that "the citizenry should never be taxed more than X%." Not "We should limit agriculture subsidies," but "There shouldn't be a Dept of Agriculture." Not merely say that "Obamacare is a bad bill," but that "the govt should be out of the health care business altogether (aside from legally assuring basic protections)."

Point out repeatedly that the cherished policies of liberalism/progressivism of high taxes, high regulation, public employee unionization are what's going to bury CA, NY and IL (and Europe). When CA collapses, get the Republican big guns out there and say "This is what happens when a state adheres to a liberal/progressive political ideology."

Modern Liberalism is just latest descendant of Marxism, fascism and communism. If we don't want our country to go the way of the countries that adhered to these previous "isms" then we must reject not just liberal policies, but liberalism itself.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | December 4, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

MarkinJC, we get it. For the weekend at least would it be too much to kindly request you give it a rest?

A lot of people don't work weekends. And a lot do. It is neither bad or good whether we do or not, yes?

Posted by: MsJS | December 4, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I really hope this isn't the way things will be in the future. Is the Post just going to have competing right and left blogs where dittoheads can get on and reassure one another that everything they think is correct? The Plum Line comments are all like that -- it's one of the most pointless offerings on the Opinion page -- and reading this string I see it's pretty much the same, here. If you believe, for example, that the Democrats are authoritarian anti-Constitutional bullies who are incapable of grasping how to nurture the private sector, shouldn't you be reading things that challenge that assumption? Oh well, whatever. Good luck to you.

Posted by: simpleton1 | December 4, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, simpleton. This blog is still young. We'll see how it goes.

Best of everything to you, too.

Posted by: MsJS | December 4, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

eonii wrote:

"54465446, such a lot of misinformation in one post! Where to start?"

Hey, that's my line. LOL


1)Homeland Security was the brainchild of the Bush administration exclusively. The 9/11 commission had never even met by the time the Department came into existence. Look up the dates.

2) The Patriot Act is the greatest intrusion upon our individual rights and liberties since the 1950's communist scares. You should know you're on shaky ground when you require the Obama administration's endorsement to bolster your case!

3) Rendition is an interesting question then isn't it? That's why I said let's not even start that discussion.

"Your interpretation of the financial meltdown/housing bubble is simplistic and false. You really belief Wendy Graham was the main culprit? This was a bipartisan train wreck driven by, among others, the Fed, Congressional enablers of Freddie, Fannie and Countrywide, a dysfunctional banking system, and the moral hazard of "too big to fail". "Mark to market" accounting also exacerbated the crisis when markets froze up. Anyway, the salient point is that the Bush administration tried to rein in Freddie and Fannie and to give their regulators more power, but they were thwarted by Congress"

Nice straw man, but I didn't say that Wendy Gramma was the culprit. I said she was in the spot for a reason, Phil was much more culpable. Your statements are completely incorrect, and betray a lack of knowledge of your subject matter.

There is simply no question that Gramm Leach and the CFMA are the reasons that things got so out of control. Fraud of course was the main driver at the initial level, massive criminal fraud that no one has been or ever will be prosecuted for.

Bush did present a plan to change Fannie and Freddie, but by that time the agencies already had a combined 1.5 trillion in debt and were insolvent, as they are still. The role of Fannie and Freddie in the crisis is widely misunderstood. The agencies did what they were supposed to do, which was create a stable secondary market for mortgages. the wisdom of the conditions under which they guaranteed loans can be debated of course. BTW I did not in my post blame Bush for the crisis, nor have I ever done so.

We of course, cannot fully have the FN/FM part of the discussion in a thread post.

Mark to market accounting had no role in CAUSING the crisis whatsoever. Your citing it is a further illustration of your lack of knowledge of the area. Mark to market accounting practices had to be suspended because they prevented the vast financial wizardry that Paulson and Bernanke did to STOP the crisis.

The Fed could never have taken CDO's in exchange for loans, had an actual present value been required for things that at that time essentially had no market. Nor could financial institutions calculate reserve ratios accurately.

In spite of our disagreements, this was very enjoyable. Thanks for the reply.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 4, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

simpleton:

Debate is fantastic! Judge the posters by how much subject matter knowledge they bring to the debate. It's usually not hard to tell, who's simply parroting Fox, or MSNBC.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 4, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Question, as formulated, is not useful. Our political parties are not political entities, but labels individuals, incl. politicians, apply to themselves. Our parties are coalitions, often uneasy ones, of people with sometimes common, sometimes conflicting goals and aims. So the lesson that should be drawn from the latest election depends on where you are in each of the coalitions that exist.

On the right, economic conservatives and constitutional originalists should keep pushing their agenda, because they received a good boost. Conservative value-voters, like Christian fundamentalists, should tread warily. While they were not explicitly refudiated, as Palin would say, they surely did not receive much of a boost either -- I'd say they have been pushed aside, for now. Republican voting libertarians can see a glimmer of hope, but should, as usual, try to be realistic about their agenda. Is this a stable coalition? Hardly.

On the left, the die-hard liberals that were hiding behind Obama's middle-of-the-road promises need to go into hiding and revise their long term plans. They have emerged as an intolerant and screechy permanent minority. Anyone running for election as a European-style sociopath libby needs to select his/her district very, very carefully. Blue Dogs need to rethink their party affiliation, because it's not clear that they will be welcomed in the New Democratic Minority in Congress. This coalition is shaken to the bones.

Where does this leave Congressional leaders? Clearly, Americans voted for stalemate as preferable to liberal activism -- and neither Reid nor Pelosi is likely to internalize that message. Republicans should press the left on domestic and economic issues, and try to find common ground with Obama on foreign policy, in order to appear cooperative.

For Obama, the focus must be entirely on 2012. And that will drive the Republican leadership's strategies, obviously. The Presidential election cycle is now on, in full swing. For Obama, it's about survival; for Republicans, it's about sensing a wounded prey and pressing for the kill.

For members of Congress, the heat is on, especially for the Democrats, but Republicans, as such, are not trusted either. If Dems want to be reelected in centrist districts, they must triangulate and move to the right -- esp. on taxes, economic regulation, federal powers, and spending. Repubs had better deliver substantive legislation, even if Obama vetoes.

The hard left will never change, and will learn no lessons. All they can do is dig in and retrench -- and continue to whine, whine, whine. Like dinosaurs after the comet hit, they're toast.

The overall lesson for politicians: Americans think you all really suck -- like a New York City sewer after a hurricane downpour. That is the real lesson of the election, I think.

I've never seen this country as despondent as it is right now. If Hope is to return, the Bums have better Change. Otherwise, they will all be toast.

Posted by: carldahlman | December 4, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I think Republicans should remember that Barbara (you can take the yenta out of Brooklyn but you can't take Brooklyn out of the yenta) Boxer won reelection in California.

I think Democrats should take heart because, if Barbara (don't call me Mam, call me Senator) Boxer can win reelection, then 0bama could win reelection too.

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | December 4, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

"Bush did present a plan to change Fannie and Freddie, but by that time the agencies already had a combined 1.5 trillion in debt and were insolvent, as they are still. The role of Fannie and Freddie in the crisis is widely misunderstood. The agencies did what they were supposed to do, which was create a stable secondary market for mortgages. the wisdom of the conditions under which they guaranteed loans can be debated of course."

Am I the only one to read this and say, obviously Fannie and Freddie didn't do what they were supposed to, because if they were a combined 1.5 trillion in debt, the market they created couldn't have been very stable.

My understanding of the mark to market problem is that they exacerbated the crisis by requiring companies to report the value of their assets much lower than they would have actually have sold them at at some point down the road, hence presenting themselves as bankrupt, when they were not actually in immediate danger of going out of business.

Also, for a long time I have wanted to hear someone explain what, exactly, anyone could say or do before the Patriot Act that they couldn't say or do afterward. Perhaps you can explain, 54465446.

Posted by: adam62 | December 4, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Both parties should have learned that Americans want their representatives to work together for the good of the citizens whom they represent, not just toe the party lines. This means making some tough and politically risky decisions (Social Security and Medicare) going forward.

What Democrats thought they heard was that they're not good communicators with the serfs who populate this country. Maybe some hearing aids are in order.

What Republicans thought they heard was a mandate to "just say no" to all new regulations. Hint: we don't want yet another meltdown of the financial sector in our future.

Posted by: Beagle1 | December 4, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

“Freddie Mac was chartered by Congress in 1970 with a public mission to stabilize the nation's residential mortgage markets and expand opportunities for homeownership and affordable rental housing. Our statutory mission is to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the U.S. housing market.
“Our participation in the secondary mortgage market includes
--Providing our credit guarantee for residential mortgages originated by mortgage lenders --Investing in mortgage loans and mortgage securities”

http://www.freddiemac.com/corporate/company_profile/our_mission/

I’ll leave it to someone else to find the corresponding verbiage on Fannie Mae.

Adam62, Fannie and Freddie did what they were supposed to do. It was a program that, if successful, would make homeowners of those who couldn’t really afford it. Congress saw their meltdowns coming, but did nothing to curb it.

As to the Patriot Act controversy, here’s as good a place to start as any:
http://www.npr.org/news/specials/patriotact/patriotactdeal.html

Posted by: MsJS | December 4, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

"Adam62, Fannie and Freddie did what they were supposed to do. It was a program that, if successful, would make homeowners of those who couldn’t really afford it. Congress saw their meltdowns coming, but did nothing to curb it."

As to the Patriot Act controversy, here’s as good a place to start as any:
http://www.npr.org/news/specials/patriotact/patriotactdeal.html"

We may have incommensurable understandings of "doing what you're supposed to do." In my understanding, it means successfully doing it--not what you would have done had you been successful. If my kid is supposed to clean up his room, and the room would have been clean if he had been "successful," then he didn't do what he was supposed to do. I say that the market was not stable, ergo, they didn't stabilize it, which is what they were "supposed to do."

Please, no long-winded discussions of the Patriot Act, especially from NPR. Just one thing that you could say or do before, but couldn't say or do after. One thing! That should be simple enough, if it really was such a massive infringement on our freedoms. I ask because I can't see a single thing anyone couldn't or didn't do, or even displayed the slightest inhibition about doing post-Patriot Act. So, I'm wondering what I must be missing. Just one thing!

Posted by: adam62 | December 4, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

"MarkinJC, we get it. For the weekend at least would it be too much to kindly request you give it a rest?

"A lot of people don't work weekends. And a lot do. It is neither bad or good whether we do or not, yes?"

Posted by: MsJS | December 4, 2010 4:47 PM

MsJS,

In a time of 9.8 percent unemployment, record national debt, and two wars, it is unprofessional and completely unacceptable for a true, patriotic Neoconservative to fail to inform red-blooded, real Americans on a Saturday and/or Sunday.

As the mainstream media continues to attack Sarah Palin, Avigdor Lieberman, the Tea Party, and Neoconservatives at every turn, a true Neoconservative such as Jenny Poo who has garnered a spot at a highly suspicious publication such as The Washington Post only serves to weaken the causes of democracy, free-market economics, low taxes, deregulation, and religious freedom by failing to work on a Saturday and/or Sunday.

Were Ronald Wilson Reagan, David Ben-Gurion, William F. Buckley, Irving Kristol, and Ayn Rand alive today, you can be rest assured that each would be working to inform patriotic, red-blooded, red state, flag-waving, military-serving, Judeo-Christian Americans on the Conservative and Neoconservative issues of vital importance every Saturday and Sunday.

Without fail. Without excuses. Without hesitation. And for the complete repeal of the evil death tax and the death panels attack on America's senior citizens.

Posted by: MarkinJC | December 4, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

adam62 wrote:

"My understanding of the mark to market problem is that they exacerbated the crisis by requiring companies to report the value of their assets much lower than they would have actually have sold them at at some point down the road, hence presenting themselves as bankrupt, when they were not actually in immediate danger of going out of business."

Hmmm how to answer without boring everyone to death with accounting. Your explanation is incorrect, but the "right method" is a matter of some debate. It's similar to when you hear companies say they use either GAAP or EBITDA methods of presenting their numbers. The best way to put it is that mark to market presupposes that there actually IS market for the items in question on which value can be determined. During the financial crisis, that market simply ceased to exist. The flaw in your question is that it presupposes this situation was a temporary blip on the radar. In actuality, one of the reasons that the Fed is going to QE2 and maybe more is that the securities they took in from the banks STILL have low or no value. The proof of this occurred a month or so ago when the Fed's Maiden Lane facility sued Bank of America to do a "take back" on some of the securities it received, on the theory of fraudulent transfer. This was an extraoridnary admission by the Fed that they are still carrying a lot of highly questionable material on their balance sheet.

Sorry if that didn't get the job done, but it's as close as i can get given the format.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 4, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

adam wrote:

"Am I the only one to read this and say, obviously Fannie and Freddie didn't do what they were supposed to, because if they were a combined 1.5 trillion in debt, the market they created couldn't have been very stable"

Actually it was stable TOO stable. Risk was no longer priced into mortgage rates, because the governmently was implicitly guaranteeing a fair portion of the market. (That has grown by the way, ironically enough. Fannie and Freddie guarantee a much LARGER portion of the market now than they did before the crisis!)

When we say in debt, that is a misnomer. I mean that they GURANTEED that amount, beyond the likelihood of ability to pay, not that they actually OWED that amount to anyone. I may have failed to make that easily understood. It's similar to a major insurance company that has reserves to handle normal payouts, but will be insolvent if a major hurricane hits an area where they insurance a high percentage of the occupants.

Again, these are sometimes tough ideas for posts, which is why they are great for sloganeering on both sides of the fence.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 4, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

adam:

You place a lot of demands on me!

Ok in a nutshell one thing.

You can now be subject to a search by warrant without your knowledge. Federal agents can literally break into your home or business, physically or electronically, conduct a search and leave without ever acknowledging they have done so.

It's called sneak and peek.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 4, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Both parties should have learned how to lie in new, more convincing ways.

Both parties conclude (incorrectly) that they now have to look up some old lies that people might have forgotten by now and update them.

This is incorrect because people don't have to look up lies in history books like politicians do. They can usually see the eternal bait-and-switch.

Well... as long as they keep it going for one more day, they've got my vote! Who cares if it's Babylon?

Posted by: roquenuevo71 | December 5, 2010 4:04 AM | Report abuse

I imagine that both parties understand that the high unemployment rates disposed voters to 'turn the rascals out' of power for not finding the policies that would generate job creation. But I also suspect that both parties are disposed to over interpreting the reasons for the voter anger. While many in the Republican Party are convinced that government spending is a major reason for the economic stagnation, I suspect that if all the measures undertaken by the Obama administration had cut unemployment, there would be a more mixed reaction to tax and spending policies. And while Democrats insist that policies must address the gaps between rich and poor, I am also increasingly convinced that Americans, on the whole, prefer a policy that encourages robust economic growth--and job creation--even with its attendant consequence of increasing the gap between rich and poor.

Posted by: drdivine1 | December 5, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

If "sneak and peek" is the best you can do than I am confirmed in my assumption that the answer to my question is no--there is nothing you could say or do before the Patriot Act that you couldn't say or do afterward. In other words, unlike, say, Obamacare, which tells you you must be insured, and tells employers how much insurance they must offer and insurers who they must insure and at what rates, etc., the effect of the Patriot Act on our freedom was exactly zero. Perhaps a marginal effect on the privacy of a very small number of people. What a lot of rage about nothing.

Regarding Freddie and Fannie, we are back to the beginning here as well--it stabilized things so much as to make things utterly unstable! In that case, again, it didn't do what it was "supposed to do." And it is certainly doing even more of that now, as you suggest. To guarantee is to owe if the one you are guaranteeing can't pay, as is obviously bound to happen if you coerce lenders to loan money to people they ordinarily wouldn't, because they are less likely to pay back. And if you are forced to loan to people who are unlikely to pay back, you are going to try and spread the risk as widely as you can. And spreading the risk ever more widely makes people more reckless, especially when the more reckless you get, the more devastating the the effects of failure and therefore the greater likeihood of government bailout, because you are now too big to fail (and you had to be big to give all the loans the government wanted you to). So, far from fraud, greed and deregulation, the source of the crisis is government forcing lenders to take risks they wouldn't and then feeling obliged to back up those risks--and that plenty of clever people found ways of making a lot of money out of this government-run scam, and thereby made it even worse, goes without saying. And then, of course, when you have to come up with the money to clean up the mess you have made, where do you go other than to the people who have all the money? Stop playing games with the taxpayers' money and you will no longer have to go crawling to Wall Street.

Posted by: adam62 | December 5, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Republicans should learn that the messenger matters as much as the message. The Tea Party message has reinvigorated the GOP, but its messengers are often too flawed to actually win general elections.

Republicans could incorrectly conclude that the 2012 nomination race is "wide open." Just as the Tea Party candidates won most of the 2010 multi-candiate Senate primaries, Palin is likely to win against a divided field. Unless the anti-Palin forces coalesce around a candidate by end of 2011, she is likely to win the nomination. (And then go on to lose the general election.) The actual primaries could be too late to stop Palin.

Democrats should learn that the message matters as much as the messenger. Obama is still a strong messenger, still the most popular politician in the country. But his message is so narrow, partisan and unappealing to the center that he is his own worst enemy. His self-inflicted wounds are far worse than anything the Republicans have done. The Bush tax fiasco this week is just one more example.

Democrats could incorrectly conclude that a left-wing primary challenge would weaken Obama in 2012. Instead they should say to Dean, Feingold,et. al: "Bring It On!" Beating back a liberal challenge would be an excellent way for Obama to re-establish himself as a centrist. Unless he establishes some record of fighting for center/right policies, he will remain very vulnerable. He should work with Congressional Republicans to pass Bowles-Simpson. And then he should turn around and beat someone like Dean in the primaries (with the help of a 90% black vote.) His message should be "Neither pure liberals nor pure conservatives can make hard choices. But I can." He could win the primaries 60/40 and the general election 52/48.

Posted by: EricR1 | December 5, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

There is a false assumption lurking behind your question: i.e. that a political party can think. They can’t and don’t. At least not in the sense that they have a single all encompassing thought as to what happened to and for them in the 2010 midterm elections.

Political parties are hydra headed. Take the Democrats, puhleese. A Californian Democrat, whose party didn’t lose a single incumbency in 2010 and even picked up a few extra offices, might conclude that the election would have been won throughout the country if only their party had only hewed to a hard left course. Whereas a Florida Democrat, in all likelihood, wouldn’t share this view, having seen their party decimated in their state during the election. They, in fact, might believe that it was the Californian Pelosi progressivism that fueled the vehicle that drove their party over the cliff in Florida. They are both right and therefore, of course, both wrong.

As to what conclusions these groups of disparate citizens should have drawn from the election, this would require an objectivity and sagacity few of us possess. Witness the multiple panels of CNN pundits sucking their thumbs and stroking their beards in deep though on election night as to the meaning of the election, often contradicting each other’s views depending on their own personal biases and political intelligence. There are “60 Different Ways to Leave Your Lover” sings Paul Simon, and so far you have 64 different commentators on the various lessons a party could learn from the election results. In fact if you were to go door-to-door in America posing such a question to the imaginary “ordinary American” you’d probably get 64 million different answers. And, of course, in this age of rapid communication and manipulation, their views are always subject to immediate change at any particular moment in time. This is why polling was invented.

As for me, I have a hard time sorting out the meaning of this election much less assuming I can know what million of Americans, crammed awkwardly into poltical parties,might think or should think about it. But I must confess, somewhat sheepishly, that I feel like the student during an examination who, when discovering he couldn’t answer the question posed to him, decided to ignore it and answer his own. Hopefully, we’ll be graded on the curve.

Posted by: pmackinnon1 | December 5, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Republicans should have learned the following lessons:

1. Listen to the voters. They see the future in Europe, California & Detroit and don't want the future of the country to go that way. They see Texas & New Jersey as better options.

2. Candidate selection is important but it does not help to criticize and complain after the candidate has been selected or has won the primary. That should be when the party comes together to help the candidate win the race. The Monday morning quarterbacking can wait until the election is over.

Republicans will slip up if they do not advocate major change and if voters do not see a plan for long-term solutions proposed by the party.

Posted by: ChrisWoj1 | December 5, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Both parties should learn "hubris." Secondly, political polls are data, not talking points that can be used, abused, stressed or ignored.

The voters want substance and not personal self-aggrandizement. The second reason is the basis of the Dems success in 2006 and 2008, e.g., see DeLay.

Congress needs to recognize its role of leadership, not simply, pretending any action is what Lincoln or Roosevelt would do. For example, lowering the volume of TV commercials is not a substitute for addressing the budget crisis.

Republicans need to assess and compare their California results to relative success in states to the east. Advocating "tea party" policies is not a substitute for being a qualified candidate.

Democrats need substance and not simply, "We're not mean Republicans." And the rise of "liberalism" was not simply throw every idea into the stew in order to get a vote.

Posted by: jpc1 | December 5, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Both parties should have learned that the voters think our government is both too big and too expensive, as well as not accountable to the people.

In the future, the voters will elect more and more government officials who understand the need for a government that listens to the voters, spends carefully, and communicates honestly.

We have a long way to go, but the 2010 election was a large first step toward accountable government.

Posted by: appalachian | December 5, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats found the middle of the road Independent voters usefull in cobbling together a majority in 2008 but then shut them of any discussions or participation once the election was over. Independent voters swung over to the Republicans for the 2010 midterms. The Democratic Party leadership was drawn again from the same poisoned pool of talent which brought the repudiation of the last election showing they draw no lesson from it. The greatest danger is still for the Republican party whose model of normal economic policy is rooted in almost a century of free markets and free trade and a lack of protection of the working and middle class resulting in systemic declines in prosperity and job security for 90 percent of the people they represent. The model has become what the kids these days like to call an "epic failure". Return to power is likely to cause them to slip back into the greased grooves of business as usual. They need to get some leadership and get ahead of the curve on the Economic policies which will once again make them valued by the majority or they are likely to be replaced as the conservative, business oriented party by one which will.

Posted by: almorganiv | December 6, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

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