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The Happy Loser

CNN's Political Ticker has a short blog on John Boccieri, the US Rep whose district includes most of Ashland County. Boccieri, a freshman Democrat, was defeated for reelection two weeks ago by Jim Renacci, 52-41.

Boccieri is happy, apparently, because he thinks he did the right thing and lost only because the economy is bad. The man leaves DC with a clear conscience and, as the comments section on blog suggests, the applause of many outside OH-16.

But the reality is more complex. While the economy did hurt him (and every Democrat in Ohio this year), it doesn't explain something that Boccieri either cannot see or will not admit: people in the district were angry at him - at least Republicans and moderate or conservative independents. Boccieri voted for the stimulus and cap and trade, and switched his vote at the last minute to "yes" on the health care bill. The health care vote was especially damaging, and Boccieri's allies knew it. SEIU, for example, ran a TV ad praising Boccieri the day after he voted for the bill. They knew what was coming. The next day I saw signs in Ashland that said "Bye, Bye Boccieri".

Boccieri didn't understand that the Right (and even center-Right) feels the same passion about ObamaCare that the Left felt about the Iraq War. The Left hated the war on principle; the Right hates ObamaCare on principle. Both regard them as stupid, malicious, and unconstitutional. But the great turn happened in the middle. Independents didn't hate the Iraq War to begin with; Bush won Ohio in 2004, remember. In fact, the middle never hated the war, but they got frustrated and turned against it when it didn't go well. The same is true of ObamaCare. The middle might have tolerated it but with the economy faltering and mountains of debt piling up, their frustration became anger and the arguments of conservatives made sense. They turned against it and anyone who supported it.

So Boccieri may be a happy loser, but I wonder if his happiness is bought at the price of not actually understanding what happened to him and why.
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