Despite all expectations, 2012 turned out to be a status quo election. The Obama operation was able, despite the economy, to hold on to its 2008 voters, while the GOP held on to the gains it made in the 2010 House races. The reason, in part, is that the first set of voters is comfortable with Obama’s crony capitalism paid for with borrowed Chinese money and a Federal Reserve–inflated stock market, while the second is not. The upshot as we go into Obama’s second term, with the fiscal cliff looming, is that neither side has any incentive to compromise.
A great deal will be made of Romney’s failings as a candidate, and how, despite his grace and dignity, the governor’s Wall Street ties made it hard for him to win over working-class voters. But while this is entirely true, it may be that Romney’s reasoned critique of the auto bailout was crucial in swinging Ohio and Wisconsin to the Democrats.
The press coverage of the Obama administration’s auto bailout—like its coverage of Fast and Furious, and Benghazi, and the anemic economic recovery—has been a scandal. It’s not just that NBC effectively made itself part of the White House press operation; it’s also that the media more broadly has lost all claim to respect. Candy Crowley’s intervention on Obama’s behalf in the second presidential debate and CBS News’s release of a damning interview with the president at the last possible moment are only the recent examples. Republicans will need to take a different approach to the so-called mainstream media.
Going forward, it’s important for Republicans not to overreact. They will gain nothing with hyperbolic rhetoric about media bias. What they need to do is respectfully and forcefully challenge the pretensions of people like David Gregory and George Stephanopoulos that they are journalists, as opposed to operatives.