The consensus in Washington and the mainstream news media is that last week's election represents the repudiation of the Obama administration and its policies, which tilted much too far to the left.
"A nationwide recoil against Barack Obama's idea of unlimited government" is how George Will put it in The Washington Post. "We were too deferential to our most zealous supporters," wrote the departing Senate Democrat Evan Bayh, of Indiana, in The New York Times.
That analysis is fundamentally mistaken. It misreads the will of a variegated electorate that sought above all to register profound discontent with the state of the economy. It mischaracterizes the Democrats' policies. And it has given both parties a new zest for fiscal austerity that may cut short the economic recovery and further damage the prospects of the very working-class voters who cast their midterm ballots in desperation for jobs.
Missing from this discussion is a sense of history.