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Blindsided by their own blindness

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A recap of election night highlights.

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By Kathleen Parker
Thursday, November 4, 2010

Two words: Narrative, schmarrative.

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Democrats have talked endlessly about the importance of narrative - missing in President Obama's case. We've heard over and over about the lack of smart messaging and the president's failure to communicate. If only Obama could better express himself, all would be well.

Seriously? This is the same president whose soaring rhetoric once sent his ratings into the heavenly realm and who, after assuming office, never stopped expressing himself.

For months, he was everywhere. Talking, talking, talking. Admit it. How many times did you flip on the tube and say, "Omigod, he's talking again"? Several Teleprompters had to take early retirement from sheer exhaustion.

Here's a narrative: You can't sell people what they don't want, no matter how mellifluous your pitch. This is the clear message of the midterm elections, and who didn't know?

Only Democrats, apparently.

They - the imperial "they" - say that the people weren't voting against the president. Check. Most Americans don't dislike the president, as in the person. Obama didn't create this dismal economy, and most acknowledge that fact. But voters were clearly casting a ballot against his policies.

And no, the Tea Partyers weren't voting against his pigmentation, as my colleague Eugene Robinson suggested in a recent column. "Take back the country," the popular Tea Party refrain, doesn't mean reclaim it from "the black man." It means reclaim it from a rogue government.

There were so many clues, even the clueless should have seen what was coming.

In February 2009, Obama had an approval rating of 76 percent. Let me repeat that: 76 percent! Few but God poll better. Obviously, one can go only downhill from there, but you can't pin the slide on racism. All those people didn't suddenly realize their president was African American and become racists.

Are there racists in America? Sure. And some of them show up at Tea Party rallies. Say what you will about the Tea Party, and there's plenty to say, but it is fundamentally unfair to label the Tea Partyers overall as racist. It is also just plain incorrect to say that opposition to Obama is anti-black. The election was a referendum on policies that are widely viewed as too overreaching and, ultimately, threatening to individual freedom. It's that simple.

The essential question that voters were answering was whether government or the private sector is better suited to create jobs. This is a question on which historians and economists disagree, but it was the crux of Tuesday's election. At the risk of oversimplifying, the midterm bloodbath was a fight over capitalism.


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