A voice from the fringe? Well, perhaps. But nothing with which House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer would quibble. Like Stern, he inferred that voters were upset at Republican obstructionism. "I think what the public is angry about is they see, first of all, an opposition for opposition's sake." Oh. And the voters expressed this anger at Republicans by electing one more to the Senate? From a state that has not elected a Republican senator since 1967?
But the most obtuse whistler past the graveyard was Obama adviser David Axelrod, who denied that the Brown victory was a blow to health care legislation. This was a bit thick even for the interlocutor on MSNBC. Savannah Guthrie asked, "How can you interpret this in any other way that it is a total rejection of health care reform, given the fact that the candidate that won resoundingly would sign his autograph '41' -- the 41st vote against health care reform?" Axelrod tried to be soothing. " ... There are messages here. We hear those messages, but there is a tendency in this town ... to overblow things ... And I don't think it's about that one particular issue. I think there's a general sense of discontent about the economy and there's a general sense of discontent about this town. That's why we were elected. We are committed to doing something about it."
If Republican victories in three states that voted for Obama (New Jersey by 15 points, Virginia by 7, and Massachusetts by 26) were not evidence enough, polls have been showing since July that Americans are opposed to the health reform oozing its way through Congress. A November 2009 Gallup survey found 53 percent saying they disapproved of the way President Obama was handling health care. An ABC News/Washington Post poll in December found the same. In January, a Quinnipiac poll found that 58 percent disapproved.
The Obama administration amply enjoyed its opportunity to exult over its defeated rivals in 2008. But the spirit of "I trump you," which imbued the first year of the administration, has led to overreach and now to rebuke. It's one thing to disdain Republicans. It's another to dis the voters.