According to his bio, Ezra Klein is 30. So why is he assuming the persona of a crotchety old geezer at his spanking new “explanatory journalistic” web venture, Vox, and telling all those dagnabbed pie-eyed kids who voted for Obama to get off his lawn?
I’m not kidding. The title of a piece he wrote today — “Millennials are losing faith in the presidency” — is punctuated by a spiteful “Good.” He neglected to add, “That’ll serve ‘em right,” but the phrase was clearly on his mind. In 2008, he reminds us, young voters were bullish on Barack Obama, leading to the third-highest voting turnout among youth voters on record. Obama came away with an impressive 66% of the Millennial vote.
Fast forward to now, five years later, and the fever has broken. And then some.
[Y]oung voters have stopped believing. A poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that young voters’ trust in the institution of the presidency has dropped from 44 percent in 2010 to 32 percent now. In other words, Barack Obama’s presidency has broken young voters’ faith in the presidency.
So why does Gramps Klein think this is good? The failure of the Obama experiment, he tells us, is not that Obama was unable to deliver “change they could believe in.” In fact, he did deliver, Klein argues:
[I]n 2009 and 2010, when Obama was working with an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, he was able to sign more change into law than arguably any president since Lyndon Johnson. Since 2010 and the Republican takeover of Congress, he’s gotten almost nothing done. It’s not Obama’s energy that has flagged, or his agenda that’s run dry. It’s Congress’s interest in that agenda.
Here Klein is revealing a sentiment that is nothing new for him or any liberal commentator: that Republicans are obstructionists, and if they would just step aside — or get in the back seat, to use an early, if arrogant, Obama formulation — the president would do more great things, including drive us (at last) out of the ditch he found the nation in when he took office in 2010.
There’s just one small problem with Klein’s object lesson. In noting that Obama’s powers are limited by the Constitution (at one point in his homily Klein intimates they are too limited), he glosses over the not-inconsiderable matter of how the GOP ascended to control one chamber of Congress in 2010. That was the result of voter dissatisfaction with Obama’s signature program.
With Klein likes it or not, the system is working the way it’s supposed to. That young people were just as disaffected with Obama as older voters by the 2010 midterms is reflected in Klein’s own numbers. He notes that Obama’s approval among Millennials was at 44% in 2010. But that’s two thirds of where it was in 2008, when Obama was so well liked by young people that 66% of pulled the lever for him.
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