Why They Win


Andrew Sullivan, who argues endlessly against the politics of outrage, emotion, and resentment, demonstrates today why the politics of outrage, emotion, and resentment work so well. Sharron Angle, he admits, is a “nutcase.” But if he lived in Nevada, he still couldn’t vote for Harry Reid, even if that was the only way of keeping Angle out of the U.S. Senate:

He is everything I hate about Democrats: incapable of making an argument, a face so weak it changes depending on the way the wind is blowing, a voice so sad you think he’s a funeral director, a man whose appareance on television has never evinced any reaction from me but “where’s the remote?” I just couldn’t pull the lever for the guy. Sorry. So I won’t be surprised if the nutjob wins. And a tiny part of me will feel a pulse of intense pleasure to see him go down.

Harry Reid is an inside player, not a Sarah Palinesque bomb thrower. He’s no good on TV. But guess what? Against monumental odds, he played the inside game pretty decently this term, shepherding a stimulus bill, a healthcare reform bill, and a financial reform bill through the Senate. And to do it, he needed to figure out how to deal with prima donnas like Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Scott Brown, and Olympia Snowe without losing his sanity. These are some of the most infuriating, self-regarding people on the planet. Could you do it? I know I couldn’t. Hell, I probably would have taken a swing at Lieberman on the Senate floor around September of last year.

And then we would have lost his vote and healthcare reform wouldn’t have passed. But I’d look tough! Cable news would love me! Andrew would be thrilled! Dems are showing some backbone!

And all at the minor cost of passing nothing. But at least we’d have someone telegenic running the Senate, and God knows that’s what’s really important.

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