Anna Quindlen supposedly retired her Newsweek column. But editor Jon Meacham brought her back to lecture the country this week. On the cover are the words "Anna Quindlen’s Advice for America: Let’s Grow Up, People!" But it is Quindlen in her piece that might seem, to borrow from Peter Jennings, to be having a two-year-old temper tantrum. There’s the denial about Scott Brown’s win:
In fact, the Senate election results in Massachusetts, in which a Republican seized the seat held by Ted Kennedy for almost half a century and threw the Democratic Party into a monumental tizzy, was a classic toss-the-bums-out event, neither specific nor illuminating.
That's a strange summary, since there was no incumbent "bum" holding the seat to toss out. (Seat-warming Paul Kirk doesn't count.) There’s the demand that liberals should really be ignoring the polls right now:
Along the way we forget that most of the things that make America great – civil rights, the safety net, Social Security – were pushed through despite their unpopularity.
This sentence is highlighted in bold letters by Newsweek, like an endorsement. Quindlen’s written rant matches the theme of the cover story: "Antidepressants Don’t Work."
The headline on Quindlen's piece was "Follow the Leader: We elected him to do the right thing -- not take dictation."
Liberals like Quindlen insist Obama received a "mandate" (with 52.7 percent of the vote). She added that talk radio should be ignored – they’re like lions mauling the Christians:
The Democrats are in danger of learning the wrong lessons from their Massachusetts defeat. After all, they seem to have learned the wrong lessons from their electoral triumph just a little more than a year ago. They are the majority, and they should act like it—boldly, decisively. Let the Republicans filibuster, and be confident that the sight would irritate, then enrage, most of the American people. The president was given a mandate, and he should act like it—boldly, decisively. There is consensus building, and then there is trading away real progress in deference to people whose fondest wish is your own failure.
The campaign that was so tech-savvy needs to discount the most conspicuous change technology has brought to the political arena: the mindless thumbs-up, thumbs-down approach that makes elected officials Christians in a coliseum full of lions. On the blogs and talk TV, the margins are presented as mainstream: thus, the preposterous notion that the president was not born in the U.S.A. morphs into something that sounds far larger, more serious, and more credible called the birther movement. The voice of the people often seems like the voice of he who speaks loudest, and with the most vitriol. Like car horns blaring on a gridlocked street, those sounds should be ignored.
Quindlen betrayed the thinly disguised secret of the liberal: they don’t really think the people are smart enough to run the government:
One poll of former Obama supporters who abandoned the Democrats in Massachusetts showed that 41 percent of those who opposed the health-care plan weren't sure exactly why. If elected officials are supposed to act based on the wisdom of ordinary people, they're going to need ordinary people to be wiser than that.
Over and over again some Americans say they want lower taxes and smaller government. Yet somehow, in a recurrent bit of magical thinking, they also expect those things that taxes are used to pay for and that government delivers. The result is contradictory: vote down the school-board budget, then complain that Johnny can't read.
...And it's hard to believe that even the most zealous tea-party types would shrug philosophically if a bunch of kids died of E. coli because we hadn't hired enough food inspectors. The old dictum stands: you get what you pay for.