Obama’s phony majority and the crash of 2008

Recall the Obama hyperbole of November 2008. Talk of an enduring progressive majority. New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman typified a corps of liberal analysts at the time. “We’ve had a major political realignment,” Krugman wrote. “[The] presidential election was a clear referendum on political philosophies – and the progressive philosophy won.” Krugman won a Nobel Prize in economics that same year. Yet even he disregarded how the economy made Obama’s mandate that day…

It’s an analysis that seeks to have it both ways. The economy is blamed in bad Democratic times. It’s ignored in good. This cognitive dissonance deceived Democrats most. It brought hubris when they were on top. It now brings denial. If Obama first won his mandate on progressivism and now lost it with the economy, then the “professional left” does not have to consider where its ideas went wrong.

Democrats 2008 victory was credited to a great politician, a great campaign and a greatly changing nation. Yet it was the economy that made Obama’s majority. Not necessarily his victory. But it’s in majorities that presidents claim mandates.