Daniel Larison – no admirer of liberalism or Obama or Democrats, mind you – has been running against the tide of late by arguing that the Republicans do not stand to gain as much in the mid term elections this year as conventional wisdom woud dictate. His analysis of Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts in particular and GOP prospects in general have been data-driven instead of media-narrative driven. And I don’t fundamentally disagree with his latest argument that Republicans are scoring tactical victories but lack a cohesive strategy.
However, I think he underestimates the way in which our political-establishment-media-establishment feedback loop structurally favors short-term tactics. In a sense, exploiting every possible tactical victory possible is a valid strategy. This is a cynical thing to say, I suppose, but given the utterly ridiculous expectations of the public and Obama’s reluctance to dictate strategy on the left (essentially surrending political leadership to the Senate), I don’t really see any reason for optimism. And I’m not one who believes the public are fools, either – I strongly believe that the public is a rational actor, but GIGO.
The burden of action for strategy is not on the GOP, but the Democrats, and despite a clear path forward the Democratic leadership has yet actively commit to it. Obama’s lack of specifics in the SOTU about how to move forward on health care in particular was a massively missed opportunity to motivate the base, which the GOP can passively exploit.