The fog of the battle has lifted, and it is clear who won and who lost in the 2014 midterm elections. So now it is time for one of Washington’s favorite pastimes: finger-pointing, assigning blame and pursuing retribution. Losses get worse before they get better. The Democrats’ disappointment will set in, discouragement will follow and the beating they took Tuesday will seem much worse 60 days from now than it does today.
That said, Democrats are off to a quick start in getting at each other’s throats. With lightning speed, soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has sought to air his grievances and presumably shift much of the blame to President Obama for the Democrats’ loss of his chamber. In a remarkably candid exercise, Reid’s chief of staff, David Krone, has matter-of-factly supplied the media with time lines, quotes and precise accounts of the animosity that existed between the Democratic Senate and the White House during Campaign 2014. In a must-read, vivid piece from The Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Krone is quoted as saying that they were “never going to get on the same page” and revealed that, after one meeting with the president, the Reid forces were left “beating our heads against the wall.”
The president’s news conference yesterday did nothing to soothe the Democrats’ disappointment or prepare them for the slump that is to come. He hasn’t supplied them with a shoulder to cry on, nor has he exhibited any regret or taken responsibility, as a leader normally would. As a result, the president may be the easiest target for the losers as they collect their thoughts, become more bitter and start to lash out.
So Reid and his staff are pointing the finger of blame at the president. Meanwhile, Obama famously has no real relationship with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and the White House’s relationship with the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), is openly hostile. As incredible as it may seem, all three of these Democratic leaders plan to hold onto their jobs for the next two years.
Undoubtedly, there are more specific revelations to come, but the comments from Krone are particularly revealing. Part of what is so astounding about them is that the dysfunction stayed hidden for so long. Was the media duped or compliant in not blowing the whistle on this? How were we this blind to the Democratic infighting? Evidently, the entire Democratic establishment, from the time the president was inaugurated to his second term in 2013 until now, had become nothing but a scheming, tactical political operation, bickering over money and positioning, with no particular interest in governing. Somehow, it appears to have been completely lost that, for an incumbent, good government is the best politics.
Anyway, as Insiders readers know, in politics, bad gets worse. And for the Democrats, based on the size of their loss and on their leaders’ performances in the first 24 hours after defeat, things are going to get a lot worse. Reid, Pelosi and Obama couldn’t work together in the majority; does anyone think they are going to pull together in the minority? According to Krone, Obama resisted doing all he could for Democratic candidates who would serve with him in his last two years as president. Do Democrats think the president is going to do much to help candidates who will serve only after he leaves office? Does anyone think Obama is going to suddenly care about the DNC and make it an effective force? It is not unreasonable to think he couldn’t care less. It is probably fine with him if Wasserman-Schultz uses the committee as a vanity platform as long as he doesn’t have to meet with her. I wonder what will motivate Democratic donors to give to the DNC.
Turns out that, for all the talk about the war within the Republican Party, the real civil war was taking place among the Democrats. It’s better to find out late than never. The next several weeks will be compelling reading, full of payback, score-settling and I-told-you-so’s revealed after the fact. Tune in.
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