Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama's "mandate"

I suppose it's normal for the winning side in a presidential election to feel validated in their choice of candidate, and there are also always those that want more than just the limited powers of the office; they also want their new president to be able to summarily push aside any opposition to his plans because of his "mandate" from the people. Most often, the argument for the existence of this mandate is the magnitude of the victory.

What they fail to realize is that the margin of victory does not indicate a mandate from the people to institute drastic policy changes. Rather, it indicates that the opposition fielded a horrendously bad candidate. This was true with Bush's supposed mandate after his defeat of the eminently unlikeable John Kerry, and it is equally true with Obama's victory over the despicable and duplicitous John McCain.

As an example of the causes for the abject undesirability of John McCain, consider this:

A joke made its way around the Capitol yesterday: How do you know the 2008 election is really over? Because John McCain is causing trouble for Republicans again.

Two and a half months removed from his defeat in the race for the presidency, colleagues say, McCain bears more resemblance to the unpredictable and frequently bipartisan lawmaker they have served with for decades than the man who ran an often scathing campaign against Barack Obama. In some instances, he's even carrying water for his former rival.

"Mac is back!" one of his devoted friends in the Senate declared as McCain walked into the chamber Wednesday to deliver his first speech of the 111th Congress: a blunt admonishment of Republicans delaying Hillary Rodham Clinton's confirmation as secretary of state.

"I remind all my colleagues: We had an election," McCain noted. "I think the message the American people are sending us now is they want us to work together, and get to work."

No, John, that is absolutely not the message the American people are sending. The message from very nearly half of the American people is that the Republican Party has so lost its way that it is firmly in need of a top-to-bottom restructuring. The voters are trying to tell the Republican Party that they have had it with the "go along to get along" policies of the milquetoast Republican leadership.

John McCain may think that 48% voted for him, but he is wrong. A large percentage of those people were, in fact, voting for Sarah Palin, who is by far the most vibrant Republican candidate to emerge in decades. They were voting for the future of the party, a future that does not include tired, ossified relics of the past such as Sen. McCain. The long-term viability of the GOP is dependent on out-of-touch plutocrats like McCain either moving aside of their own accord or being pushed aside by disaffected voters.

There's your mandate, Sen. McCain.