By Rich Lowry: In the wake of losing Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat, in an electoral rebuke for the ages, liberaldom has a new catechism.
In the wake of losing Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat, in an electoral rebuke for the ages, liberaldom has a new catechism. These articles of faith may seem strange and implausible to the outsider, but they give comfort to the believer in these times of trial.
The catechism goes like this:
We believe that the 2008 election wasn't a reaction to a concatenation of unrepeatable circumstances (a financial crisis, an unpopular war, etc.), but a vote for nothing less than social democracy in America.
That if Democrats had already rushed through Congress a health-care bill on a partisan vote, a grateful nation would have showered them with huzzahs — delighted by the hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts and tax increases.
That the public is bristling with impatience to see a bill passed that won't fully take effect until 2014.
That the public rejection of health-care reform as reflected in almost every single public-opinion survey is just so much statistical noise.
That nefarious special interests oppose the bill, even though practically every special interest from PhRMA to the AMA is actually on board.
That Massachusetts is a swing state.
That President Obama was winning and deft in his put-downs of Scott Brown for driving a truck — who cares if a pickup truck, the Ford F-150, is the most widely sold vehicle in America?
That the people of Massachusetts didn't send a message on health care — all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, including the fact that 56 percent of them said health care was the most important issue to them.
That any populism that doesn't endorse a greater concentration of power in Washington deserves contempt as an unworthy "faux populism."
That the GOP is a Southern rump party, even if it has such new, remote outposts as the governor's mansion in New Jersey, the county executive offices of Nassau and Westchester counties outside New York City, and Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat.
That Barack Obama has irresistible powers of persuasion. All that is troubling his presidency is that he doesn't explain himself enough. The record-setting 158 interviews in his first year in office were a woefully inadequate mustering of his rhetorical mastery.
That Obama's failure to boost Democratic candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts with highly touted personal appearances was a fluke signifying exactly nothing.
That Obama is a centrist because he didn't nationalize the banks.
That he's a pragmatist because he dropped the public option that couldn't possibly pass the Senate.
That he's a sellout for delivering on his pledge to properly resource the Afghan War.
That deficit spending is the best of all economic programs, and Obama badly erred by not supporting more of it. If people have recoiled from a $787 stimulus program, they would have basked in the glory of a $1.7 trillion one.
That Rachel Maddow has her finger on the pulse of America.
That Obama can safely dispense with his promises on transparency because when he made them in 2008, everyone really understood him to mean, "I'll endorse any dirty deal that suits my purposes."
That, with unemployment at 10 percent, what Americans really care about is working to keep carbon in the atmosphere beneath 350 parts per million.
That if Obama attacks the banks, then taxing, spending and Washington backroom deals will become more popular than ever.
That independent voters haven't been turned off by Obama's policies. They have merely been, as liberal columnist E.J. Dionne noted, "confused about his goals." If President Obama only explained forthrightly why he's tripling the national debt over the next decade, surely he'd win the ready assent of independents everywhere.
That polls showing conservatives outnumbering liberals 2-1 in America can be steadfastly ignored.
Such is the new liberal orthodoxy. If you encounter someone repeating it, don't be alarmed. Nod affably and avoid sudden movements. Back off slowly and wonder at the awesome power of willful self-delusion.
Rich Lowry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.