Liberal journalists are forever trying to dismiss the idea that when conservative candidates win, the voters who sent them to Washington sent them for conservative goals -- to restrain relentless government growth. In Thursday's Washington Post, columnist David Broder declared, in the face of all evidence, that the defining campaign of 2010 was....the egocentric write-in campaign of moderate Republican Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. It was not the year of the Tea Party, or repealing ObamaCare. It was the year that the voters said they wanted non-ideological bipartisanship. He quoted her interview with the PBS NewsHour:
"I think that's what voters are looking for. I don't think that most are looking for somebody that is going to follow the litmus test of one party or another, and never deviate from it. I think they want us to think, and I think they want us to work cooperatively together. So, that's my pledge to all Alaskans, regardless of whether you are the most conservative Republican or the most liberal Democrat, I'm going to try to find a way that we can find common ground to help the state and to help our country."
Want to know what the election was about? That's an authoritative answer.
Liberals reject Broder as one of theirs because he routinely hallows consensus in Washington. But when Republicans have followed the Broder model -- the classic example is George H. W. Bush breaking his no-new-taxes pledge in 1990 to strike a bipartisan "budget deal" to hike taxes and cut spending -- government spending grows faster, and the Republicans lose elections.
Broder, rejecting all the polls that washed out liberal Democrats, still argued the voters sent the message that they're rejecting both parties: The distinctive factor in 2010 was the "energy generated among the voters by the combination of a severe economic recession and the widespread disillusionment with Washington and national politics as practiced by Barack Obama and both parties."
But his column is obviously hailing the heroism of "anti-Palin elements" for overcoming "Palin's vendetta against the Murkowski family," as if that had nothing to do with governing principles. This is the man who sold Republican primary voters in February 2008 about McCain:
"Still, McCain is the only candidate in either party with a favorable personal rating by Republicans, Democrats, independents and evangelical voters. He will be formidable."