Like it or not, after an election campaign that has regularly touched on the bizarre, whatever happens in US politics is global news. Special, one-sided, relationships and diasporas aside, the internal political health of the United States of America tends to impact on all of us. Yesterdays mid-terms produced the expected victories for the Republicans and the Tea Party, although by slightly less than the margins being claimed on post-ballot talk radio last night. Grander aspirations by the Grand Old Party to a 70-80 seat majority in the House of Representatives and overall control of the Senate were not met.
So, while Barak Obama will still have the Senate on his side, albeit with a narrow majority, he will be facing Republican (and Tea Party) pressure via the House. In reality, this will mean he can either go down the Clinton route after 1994 of assimilating the mid-term criticisms and compromise, or, he can spend the coming years trying to face down the House.
Maureen Dowd has a less than gushing piece in the New York Times on the man who has become third in succession to the US Presidency, new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who, after the victory
…could not resist taking a few jabs at the “liberal media elite” distorting things, and a few more at a puffed-up White House that got punished for not paying enough attention to people’s anxieties.
This would be the liberal media that doesn’t include Fox, then. In an election where conspiracy theories, anti-science and the absurd were accorded the status of reasoned debate, it hopefully isn’t a signpost to the future of political engagement on this side of the Atlantic (or are we way ahead of the curve on that score).
While the Tea Party is a curious entity that has yet to decide whether it is really a political party, the mid-term electoral strategy it shared with the Republicans did suggest that we may begin to see a decline in the emphasis on media-savvy political front men. With no obvious central figure acting as a campaign focus in either the Tea Party or the Republican Party the Democrats couldn’t manage to land punches on their opponents in the same way that President Obama acted as the central target to the Republicans and Tea Party. The lesson appears to be that not providing your opponents with an obvious target means the media cannot focus on obvious weakenesses, allowing you to succeed by default (in effect).
So maybe Reg Empey was ahead of the game after all.