Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Obama magic has faded


The Obama magic has faded
All politics is local, they say, and Tuesday’s off-off-year elections certainly had their local angles. Jon Corzine has been a terrible governor even by the undemanding standards of terribly governed New Jersey. Creigh Deeds, though he looked good to Democratic Party recruiters not long ago, turned out to be an undistinguished campaigner, more driven by the concerns of Washington Post editorialists than of Virginia voters. And NY-23 Republican nomineee Dede Scozzafava was a bizarre choice, bizarre enough to inspire a seemingly quixotic third-party run by Doug Hoffman.

But these local angles weren’t enough to keep the Obama administration out of the races. President Obama barnstormed Virginia and New Jersey — and pumped money and Joe Biden into NY-23 in support of Democratic candidate Bill Owens. (One suspects Owens would have preferred more money and less Biden.)

And — until it started looking as if they might lose — the Obama people were suggesting that these races would seal their mandate and encourage congressional wafflers to toe the line on health-care reform. Not so much, as it turns out.

In fact, the elections underscored Obama’s political weakness just one year after his triumphant victory over Republican moderate John McCain.

The Obama invincibility that was so much in evidence then seems to have lost its power. People can argue the reasons why these elections, all in places Obama carried handily, were so close. But if he were the political marvel he was thought to be, these races wouldn’t have been contests, but walkovers. So one consequence of this Election Day is the end of his special political magic.

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