There are red states and blue states, and there are states of denial that blue-staters repair to when things don't go well. How come their side was trounced in the 2010 election? Chris Matthews on "Hardball" offered his views:
"They [the Republicans] won the argument because they made [Obama] look lefty. ... [They] blocked everything the president tried to do, and forced him to the left. Forced him to build left-wing or center-left coalitions without help from the center-right."
They forced him to turn to health care and not the economy, and then forced him to put forth a plan crafted by the left-wing House leadership. "It's brutal politics," Matthews said. "But they won."
This made perfect sense if you ignore Rick Santelli, who unleashed his rant in February 2009, before the Republicans even got started; ignore the Tea Party, which organized itself on the Internet, and ignore the independents, who began leaving Obama in April, which is something Joshua Green at the Atlantic Monthly is only too willing to do.
"Obama couldn't evolve into a postpartisan leader because [Republican Senate leader Mitch] McConnell wouldn't let him," Green says. As an example of even more "brutal politics," Green cites this speech:
"We've had an opportunity over almost two years to take a look at what this administration has been doing," McConnell declared last October. "It's been running banks, insurance companies, car companies, nationalized the student loan business took over health care. Passed a financial services bill that not a single banker in Kentucky thought was a good idea."
Apparently, red meat such as this was enough to trick voters en masse into hating Obama, though he began his term with approval ratings near 70 percent while the Republican brand was in widespread disfavor.
At Think Progress, Matthew Yglesias thinks this is likely, as voters "don't pay attention to politics" and "reason about issues backwards," from what "elites" do and say.
Then there's the problem of President George W. Bush.
If Obama is so much smarter than Bush is, how come he can't come up with new ways to do things but ends up instead with the Bush tax cuts, with the Bush protocols for the war on terror, with the Bush wars, the Bush generals, the Bush surge strategies, and the Bush policies on Guantanamo Bay?
How come Bush's approval ratings now match Obama's? How come Bush beat out President Clinton for second place in the annual ranking of men most admired? And how come his memoir sold 2.2 million copies in the two months since it's been published, a little more than Clinton's memoir sold in six years?
"Who's actually buying the poorly reviewed book of a failed former president?" asked the Washington Monthly. "I think it's the fact that he was hated by so many people," Salon's Alex Pareene answered.
People wanted to read Bush's excuses for the terrible things that he did.
Other excuses Pareene offered were these: People bought them as gags for people who didn't want to receive them.
They were bought in bulk orders by conservative think tanks and book clubs. It was shorter than Clinton's book, and people hate reading.
And, it's easy now to buy a book via Amazon.com whereas, when Clinton's book was published, you had to walk to a bookstore and buy it yourself.
Or, as he put it, "having to actually go out to Barnes & Noble ... was probably a lot of work a few years ago."
Almost as much as trying to live in the state of denial, it seems.
Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."