The New York Times today editorializes on the White House's snotty response to the defeat of Bill Halter by Sen. Blanche Lincoln. It overlooks Democratic voter discontent at its peril.
For the White House to minimize the efforts of unions and others who helped support that challenge suggests a tone-deafness to the growing restlessness in the Democratic Party.
... Some of the anger toward Mrs. Lincoln is anti-incumbent sentiment, which we’ve seen in other races this year. But much of it was more specific. Many on the left were unhappy with her for opposing a public option in the health care law, for opposing bills making it easier to unionize and for being more concerned about deficits than about stimulating the economy and creating jobs.
... Clearly, many of the voters who complained that Democratic officials had lost their phone number after being elected were also referring to President Obama. Many Democrats don’t understand why the administration and Congressional leaders are giving in to trumped-up Republican fears about the deficit and not doing more to revive the economy. Rather than dismissing such concerns and ridiculing efforts at change, the White House should consider just how powerful they have become. There are virtues to pragmatism, but it should be in the service of an underlying principle.
Here, by the way, is a play-by-play on how labor and progressive groups and bloggers encouraged Halter to enter the race.
ALSO: Circuit Judge-elect Wendell Griffen, a Halter supporter, has a lot to say on his blog about the White House's putdown of his supporters. In short, "we are not field hands." A longer excerpt:
Workers and progressives are not field hands for Senator Lincoln, the White House, or anyone else. We support candidates whose records and values square with what matters to us. We're concerned about seniors who can't afford their medications. We're concerned about families who can't afford to help their children attend college because government policies helped corporations move jobs out of the country and favored banks over students concerning student loans.
Workers and progressives disagree with politicians who agreed to loan money to Wall Street banks and Detroit auto manufacturers to keep the economy afloat but were unwilling to loan money to working families trying to avoid foreclosure of their homes. We disagree with politicians who realize the need for federally-funded crop insurance for the nation's farmers—a public option that Senator Lincoln has never opposed—but who don't believe that what is good policy for the farm crop should be good policy for the farm workers who produce the crop.
On these and other issues, a Democratic label alone no longer will earn our support. As Jesus said, people are known by their fruit. We supported Halter because Lincoln's voting record doesn't square with our needs and aspirations. That wasn't flushing money down a toilet. It was acting to replace an insensitive politician by supporting someone whose aspirations and values matched our core values.