Jonah Goldberg

It's all so terribly sad.

To listen to liberals and the White House spin election results, you'd think all was well with the world. Barack Obama is still personally popular! The evil right-wing extremists lost in New York's 23rd congressional district and a Democrat (who was arguably more conservative than the Republican nominee) won. Virginia was always a red state (no matter what we all said about it turning blue with Obama's victory), and the election hinged on local issues. Defeated New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was personally unpopular (let's all forget that the White House tried to turn the race into a referendum on Obama's agenda).

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In short, the White House spin is: "There's nothing to see here, folks. All is well."

By now, those interested in such things have already heard the rebuttal to these desperate talking points. And there's no need to rehearse them again.

In fact, what is sad is not the spin war. This happens after every election. The partisans and pundits race for the election results like kids charging the disgorged contents of a piñata, claiming convenient facts like candy and shouting "mine!" It's always an unseemly process.

No, what's sad is how far Obama's defenders have had to move the goalposts just to keep up their morale.

They might be right that the elections don't mean all that much for Obama and the Democrats. I very much doubt it, but even having the argument represents an enormous defeat for self-styled progressives.

Almost exactly a year ago, liberals insisted that Obama was going to be FDR 2.0 and that this was the dawn of a new progressive era. Countless magazine articles and newspaper columns were dedicated to the idea we were poised for a "new New Deal." Filmmaker Spike Lee declared that we will henceforth measure time B.O. ("before Obama") and A.O. ("after Obama").

Newsweek became so obsessed with Obama as a redeemer-saint-Jedi reincarnation of both FDR and Lincoln -- and also the sexiest man alive -- it's a wonder the Secret Service didn't issue a restraining order.

Nearly a year later, Newsweek's Nov. 2 cover story is a "survival guide" for liberals who seem on the verge of self-immolation given their disappointment with Obama.

If Obama is the new FDR, it might be instructive to go back and look at the elections in 1933, one year after Roosevelt was elected.

Obviously, the comparison isn't perfect, but many of the imperfections illuminate why the "Obama revolution" was always phony.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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