Republican 2014 Mid-term Rout Not as Bad For Obama as It Appears at First Blush


        The Republicans seized control of the Senate and Congress Tuesday.  The Republicans won by picking the low hanging fruit of hating Obama.  But hating Obama is not a policy.  While all the Republicans may hate Obama, that does not translate into a coherent platform for governing.  This will become obvious as the Republican Senate majority fractures into three groups, each led by an aspiring presidential candidate: Ted Cruz for the crazies, shut down the government, go to war with Iran faction; Rand Paul for domestic Libertarian and isolationist foreign policy wing, and Marco Rubio for the centrist compromisers.  Mitch McConnell predicts that the Senate will function.  It will, but not the way he thinks.  This is going to be a coalition government because the voters know that personal income is still in the gutter and no one, not the Republicans nor the Democrats, seem to have an answer.  The voters have given the Republicans a seat at the table.  As has been said before on this website, sometimes the voters elect the solution, and sometimes they elect the problem and force it to govern.  The Republican rout is an example of the latter.


In the process, they dispatched half a dozen Democratic Senators who were children of former Senators and Governors. Pryor in Arkansas, Udall in Colorado, Begich in Alaska, Landrieu in Louisiana (maybe), Rockefeller’s seat in West Virginia (Rockefeller is related to multiple governors, including a Vice-President), while Nunn and Carter in Georgia failed to gain any traction.  So, while the Senate maybe Republican, it has a lot more self-starters and self-made politicians like Obama himself.  This will produce some surprises. And, as for the most expensive Senate race in history, North Carolina, exactly one North Carolina Senator has won re-election since 1996, Richard Burt in 2010.


What the election really does is free Obama of the Democratic Party and forces him to govern as an independent.  The election was a rout for the Democrats, not Obama personally. Pundits cite the Keystone Pipeline as the first probable victory.  Obama personally probably supports Keystone, it is consistent with his energy independent platform plank from 2008, but he was prevented from pursuing it because of political pressure from the environmentalists of his own party, which has now been soundly defeated, especially the person of the environmentalist Udall family.


But the real surprise is coming in Foreign policy.  Senator John McCain now becomes chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  McCain, a former prisoner of war, is in Obama’s corner on torture and closing Guantanamo.  More significantly. McCain served in the Navy where his father was an Admiral in 1967 when, during the 1967 Six Day War (which Israel started) the Israelis “accidentally” attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 sailors, wounding 171 and almost sinking the ship.  It is going to be McCain, not Mitch McConnell, who is going to be the Senate Majority Leader when it comes to foreign policy and defense issues, and he will be an Obama supporter on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu boosted the Republicans by accusing Obama of being “un-American” by opposing the illegal building of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem which is now sparking Palestinian suicide attacks and riots. One of Netanyahu’s claims to fame in Israel is that he “understands” American politics.  This will be a good lesson for him in looking out for what you wish for.


People are going to be stunned by how much Obama is going to be able to accomplish in the last two years of his presidency, because Obama is the eighth best president in American history, although even he isn’t smart enough (and neither is anyone else) to figure out the American electorate. That’s why we have elections.  Someone should tell that to the Supreme Court.


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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf