Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Washington disconnect

The stimulus bill coverage revealed again how disconnected the Washington journalism world is from the rest of the country.

Frank Rich looks at his disconnect not just with the media but inside the GOP as well. ("Obama had 'all but lost control of the agenda in Washington,' declared Newsweek on Feb. 4 as it wondered whether he might even get a stimulus package through Congress. ")

And Rich sees the GOP hopelessly addicted to the Kool-aide,
Overdosing on this culture can be fatal. Because Republicans are isolated in that parallel universe and believe all the noise in its echo chamber, they are now as out of touch with reality as the “inevitable” Clinton campaign was before it got clobbered in Iowa. The G.O.P. doesn’t recognize that it emerged from the stimulus battle even worse off than when it started. That obliviousness gives the president the opening to win more ambitious policy victories than last week’s. Having checked the box on attempted bipartisanship, Obama can now move in for the kill.

A useful template for the current political dynamic can be found in one of the McCain campaign’s more memorable pratfalls. Last fall, it was the Beltway mantra that Obama was doomed with all those working-class Rust Belt Democrats who’d flocked to Hillary in the primaries. The beefy, beer-drinking, deer-hunting white guys — incessantly interviewed in bars and diners — would never buy the skinny black intellectual. Nor would the “dead-ender” Hillary women. The McCain camp not only bought into this received wisdom, but bet the bank on it, pouring resources into states like Michigan and Wisconsin before abandoning them and doubling down on Pennsylvania in the stretch. The sucker-punched McCain lost all three states by percentages in the double digits.

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