Whether they survived Tuesday’s Republican Tsunami or not, a sizable collection of moderate, centrist and reasonably sane Democrats got the message. And their message to the White House: You aren’t listening. This Politico piece highlights the comments of defeated Florida Gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink. Sink was largely seen as a middle-of-the road moderate and a very good candidate to run in a fickle, purplish state like Florida. But she says she got no moral support from a tone deaf White House:
In an interview with POLITICO, Sink said the administration mishandled the response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, doesn’t appreciate the political damage done by healthcare reform and argued that her GOP opponent’s strategy of tying her to the president did grave damage to her candidacy in the state’s conservative Panhandle.
“They got a huge wake-up call two days ago, but unfortunately they took a lot of Democrats down with them,” said Sink, who lost by a single percentage point, of the White House.
She added: “They just need to be better listeners and be better at reaching out to people who are on the ground to hear about the realities of their policies as well as politics.”
Sink’s opponent, winner Rick Scott had some serious issues to overcome. He was a first time candidate for public office and had run a medical services company linked to a whopper of a Medicare fraud case. But Scott used the ruling class Democrats’ tin ear to tie Sink to an out-of-touch administration and rode voter dissatisfaction to the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee.
But Sink is not the only centrist Democrat singing this tune. Witness Jason Altmire, D-PA, Jim Matheson, D-UT and Heath Shuler, D-NC. Their ire is pointed at the legislative arm of the ruling class, particularly the tone-deaf Nancy Pelosi:
Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from a conservative district in western Pennsylvania says, "I am not voting for Nancy Pelosi."
"I don't get the sense that Speaker Pelosi understands what happened on Tuesday. We lost middle America. The Democratic party got crushed," Altmire told CNN in a telephone interview from his district. "I would rather have someone who understands middle America and someone who can relate to the districts we lost," he said.
Altmire noted that many of his fellow Democrats in districts near his lost their seats, including Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, Charlie Wilson of Ohio, and John Boccieri also of Ohio.
"I understand what happened Tuesday. I had an incredibly close race," said Altmire.
With Speaker Nancy Pelosi still deliberating about her future, some House Democrats are not waiting to make their own feelings known.
Two conservative Democrats, Representatives Heath Shuler of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah, went public on Thursday with their view that Ms. Pelosi should step aside as leader after devastating losses to House Republicans.
“This is about being a team player,” said Mr. Shuler in an interview, adding that he and others did not believe the party can recover if Ms. Pelosi remained at the helm. “I don’t see us having the ability to recruit moderate candidates if she were to be the minority leader.”
Another conservative Blue Dog, Gene Taylor, D-MS is officially gracious in defeat. But privately, Taylor seethes with anger at the White House’s bungling of the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster, the President’s unwillingness to listen to the people and Pelosi’s unmitigated partisanship. Taylor’s conservative credentials are solid gold. He lost anyway, because his opponent, Steven Palazzo, capitalized on the Gulf Coast’s repudiation of Obama, Pelosi and Reid.
In truth, people like Sink, Altmire, Matheson, Shuler and Taylor are the greatest threat to Republicans’ consolidation of power. Their centrist message and moderate philosophy rings true with the great American middle. While their defeat is their own doing, having a chastened White House and Democrat leadership in Congress learn Tuesday’s lesson and change course would be their best hope for regaining lost seats and checking the incoming class of conservatives.
But by all accounts, the ruling class is hearing none of it. Obama doesn’t think he actually did anything wrong. No, his problem was that he didn’t say enough right. And instead of letting a more moderate voice take over as House Minority Leader, the partisan ideologue—Nancy Pelosi—intends to return as the face and voice of Congressional Democrats. They just don’t get it.
If Obama, Pelosi, and surviving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had any political sense, they’d have gotten the message. For a bunch of allegedly savvy politicians, thank God they make such good radical ideologues.