It was only a year ago that liberal elites in Washington were shoveling dirt on conservatism. James Carville was writing boastful books about 40 years of Democrat dominance, boasting in his typical way that he could call "time of death" on the Republican Party. Liberals believed their hype that Barack Obama would be that black FDR they pictured on the cover of Time magazine.
Now newspaper headlines read otherwise: "Where did the hope for Obama go?" The hot-air balloon has crashed to Earth, and you can tell conservatism is back with a swagger. You can tell because the media's daily output has gone from breathless valentines for Obama to angry denunciations of Tea Party protesters.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews was apoplectic about this conservative uprising. "What's going on out there in the Republican Party is kind of a frightening, almost Cambodia re-education camp going" where "if you're not far-right, you're not right enough." It didn't seem to matter to Matthews that millions of people were executed in those communist Cambodian "re-education camps." His desire to demonize far outstripped any desire to treat conservatism with respect.
Outside of Matthews' rubber room, the irony here is that conservatism alone has not stopped the Obama juggernaut. Democrats had the power in sheer numbers to ram through a socialist agenda. They quickly pushed through a massive "stimulus" bill costing more than $800 billion. The TARP program doubled that bill. Obama basically took over GM and Chrysler. And the media still screamed when anyone called this "socialist."
But the momentum really shifted at year's end. The Climategate revelations of politicized science ruined Obama's appearance at the Copenhagen global-warming summit. Then when all attention returned to health care, Obama placed all his political marbles there and lost again. Even Democrats started realizing Team Obama was not ready for primetime.
As often happens in Washington, the Democratic majority turned out to be not entirely doctrinaire. There were enough moderate Democrats on one side and die-hard leftist nationalizers on the other to frustrate any health care "solution" from emerging to final passage. One could taunt liberals with a series of film clips of how they promised to have a bill on the president's desk by August, by Thanksgiving, by Christmas, and so on.