I wrote a piece the other day titled Dr. Strangehammer's Ugly Conservative Bile-Filled Rant in which FOX News' resident conservative claimed that President Obama won no mandate and the Republicans would not have to work with him.
Krauthammer: I think the real story here is that Obama won, but he’s got no mandate. He won by going very small and very negative and we are left with a country exactly where we started, but a little worse off. The Republicans are in control of the House, probably a little bit stronger they are not going to budge. There’s no way in which after holding out on Obama for two years they are going to cave in. And Obama doesn’t have really anywhere to go.
If he gets the majority of the popular vote it’ll be very small if there’s any and even in the electoral it’s going to be a rather small majority particularly if Virgina and Florida go to Romney. So this is not a mandate either in the numbers or the way he campaigned.
Obama won a big EV and Democrats won more House and Senate seats while Obama has increased his win by clearly outdistancing Romney in the popular vote by a wide margin, but let that alone for now. Let's say Obama won by one vote and one EV vote. What would Dr. Strangehammer have said if he was a Republican that won? Here's an article he wrote soon after the 1988 election was over on November, 14th and George Bush was the winner. (h/t Snig)
A Mandate To Govern Is A Matter Of Majority
The "mandate'---nonsense has been going on nonstop since election night. Every half-hour, one maven or another declares that George Bush won the election, but no mandate. The insistence on this point is curious, since Bush never asked for a mandate. In fact, he never even presented an agenda. He held a referendum on the status quo and won in a walk.
Bush's only promise was more of the same. And as Eisenhower made clear in titling the first volume of his memoirs, mandates are for change. If you want reform or revolution, you need a mandate. If you promise continuity, you need only a majority.
So why the fuss about mandates? It is a preemptive attack on Bush's legitimacy.When Democrats defiantly declare that they refuse to give Bush the mandate he never asked for, they are not being tautological. They are being acutely political. It a high-sounding way' of saying that Bush may have won on paper, but because he won in a way of which one disapproves, he is not entitled to the full powers of the office.
Congressional Democrats may be in no mood to listen to President Bush. They have the perfect right not to listen. But mandate talk is a subtle way of saying that they have a duty not to listen.
It is a way of saying: We are authorized to resist President Bush not just by the nature of our congressional vote, but also by the nature of his presidential vote, correctly understood.
Incorrectly understood. The founders said nothing about a president needing a mandate in order to exercise his executive functions, only a majority of Electoral College. That was John Kennedy's view, too.
After winning election by the smallest popular margin in history, "he rejected the argument that the country had given him no mandate," wrote Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy aide and sometime Dukakis speechwriter.
"Every election has a winner and a loser, he said in effect ... a margin of only one vote would still be a mandate."
The point is that for a mandate to govern you need only a one-vote majority. A mandate for change requires an agenda ratified by a landslide. But that has only happened three times since World War II. In 1952, Eisenhower won a mandate to end the Korean War. In 1964, Johnson won a mandate to launch the Great Society and keep the country out of war. (He batted .500.) And in 1980 Reagan won a mandate to rearm and cut taxes.
Compared to the norm, Bush's mandate to govern is as firm as that of any postwar president. You know something is suspect when you realize that the same people expressing such retroactive admiration for, Reagan's mandate and faulting Bush for not having the same are usually those who opposed every element of Reagan's mandate when he tried to enact it.
In essence Charles Krauthammer has told America that Obama has won the election and he has the right to govern as he campaigned on. Obama did not run on a change meme, he ran on raising taxes on the wealthy and 250K is the marker to be used, immigration reform, women's rights, LGBT rights, saving Medicare and Social Security from the destructive Republicans hands, health care and ending the two wars. What Conservatives have been doing since election night is to try and delegitimize Obama's win again. Strangehammer made the case in 1988 against Democrats and so it should apply to 2012 that the GOP has an obligation to work with the president and not the other way around.
So Charles, what say you to yourself?
UPDATE: Alex Seitz-Wald writes this about Dr. Strangehammer on Nov.7th:
The lack of a mandate, according to Krauthammer, comes from two things: Obama’s negative campaign and his small margin of victory. So what would a real mandate look like? Krauthammer helpfully explained on Fox News Sunday the weekend after President Bush was reelected in 2004:
I think it was a huge issue that the president was weak in his first term. He had less of the power and strength and capital, as he speaks of, than he does today. And now that he’s been elected with a large majority, or a significant majority, and with a mandate, I think part of that mandate is to get the right judges, by his likes.
Bush won with 286 electoral votes to John Kerry’s 252, and with a 2.4 percent margin in the popular vote. Obama currently has 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 206, and he’s likely to add to that the 29 votes from Florida, which hasn’t been called yet, for a grand total of 332