The mess that is Obamacare has not improved over the past month. Back in history, at least in movides. the cavalry could usually be relied on to arrive in the nick of time to scare away the bad guys and save the hero and the women and children.
In our case, President Obama is asking Democratic candidates to act as General Custer’s 7th Calvary, and back Obamacare, but Democrats know that story too well. Custer was urged to ride to the Little Big Horn to save the day, but that turned out to be a disaster. Democrats know what lies ahead, because their opposition is lying in wait for them – and it isn’t Republicans – it is their own failed disastrous healthcare policy.
All Democratic candidates will face this issue as the election season draws near. Should they remain good soldiers behind their leader in the White House, should they oppose his policies or should they pretend he doesn’t exist, and ignore him and his policies?
Memorial Day stands as the traditional marker for candidates to start visibly working on their reelection campaigns, so the moment of truth is upon them.
The key element in their decision making is the candidate’s political stance on Obamacare. Most of them backed it all the way through. Only a few were skeptical. Obama says the party “shouldn’t apologize or go on the defensive about the Affordable Care Act.”
That statement is an obvious indicator that there is big trouble brewing.
The lame duck president with no future campaign ahead doesn’t have anything to worry about, but those who want to continue have a lot to worry about, and they have choices to make.
Two female Democrat newcomers running for the U.S. Senate have the luxury of having no voting record on the Affordable Care Act.
Michelle Nunn in Georgia and Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky won’t say how they would have voted if they had been in Congress at the time. Both have openly advocated for parts of the law, but they cleverly said nothing about most of it.
Others up for reelection want to openly back Obamacare, because more than half the electorate hates it. It has hurt many of their constituents, so they obviously do not want to be closely associated with it.
Many Democrats are laying low, while others are disavowing all knowledge. As an example of creative campaigning, a statewide Democratic ad running in Alaska endorses some parts of the law. Another example is in Montana, where Senator John Walsh, appointed for a partial term in February and now running for a full term, reminds voters that he was not in Congress in 2010.
President can’t escape from it, no matter how he may duck and weave and try to blame it all on Republicans. After all, it is his signature legislation and his legacy floats or sinks on it. His approach is to ignore the bad things, the dislocation, the disruption, to say, “There is a strong, good, right story to tell.” That may be true, but Democrat candidates want to forget it even happened. While they are running for their lives, there is no way they want to be telling that story!
So far, no Democrat has come out with an outright endorsement of Obamacare, ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
Full marks to Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Georgia Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, who had a well-worded story of her own. She said “I believe we need to move forward and build on what’s working, and fix the things that are not.” Other Democrats may pick up on that and use it too. It may be their best hope for redemption. Michelle Nunn faces the winner of the Republican runoff in November.
Some Democrats are skirting around Obamacare, trying to work out what their story is, trying to work out what will make their constituents forget. Alison Grimes, running against Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell would not give her a straightforward opinion on Obamacare. Her fumbling political answer to that was, “I, when we are in the United States Senate, will work to fix the Affordable Care Act.”
Patriotic ducking and weaving is also evident. Democratic Senator Walsh of Montana, who was in the Montana National Guard for 33 years, distanced himself from Democrats who actually forced the law onto President Obama’s desk. He said “I was preparing soldiers and airmen to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. So I did not vote on the Affordable Care Act, just want to make that clear.” That’s another damning statement on Obamacare.
Anyone with a pulse can already feel that November will be a Republican year, unless Republicans screw it up for themselves, which they have done before. Most Democratic candidates were in congress and did vote that steaming pile of garbage onto Obama’s desk, so they will have to employ some expert ducking and weaving to distance themselves from Obama and Obamacare. There are dire predictions of landslides and tsunamis that could wash over their careers.
To reclaim the majority, Republicans only need six Senate seats. Democrats must defend seven seats, five incumbents, counting Montana, in states where Obama lost in 2012. In those states, Obama remains broadly unpopular.
Democrats appear to be facing an uphill battle, due to the slow economy, high unemployment and unpopular legislation like Obamacare. There have been multiple scandals, but a majority of Democrats appear to have given the Obama administration a free pass on most of them, and they may not play a big part in making things worse for Democrats.
Max Baucus, the Senator from Montana a co-author of the Obamacare legislation said they were heading for a “train wreck,” and he escaped while the going was good. His retirement allowed two things. First, he was rewarded with an appointment as Ambassador to China by President Obama. Second, a fresh face who had nothing to do with Obamacare could be presented to the electorate, in a cynical attempt to mitigate the looming disaster.
The GOP is heavily favored to maintain its House majority, so they need to reall concentrate on those Senate seats. The Republican hit list includes Senators Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. The Republican approach will be to paint those Senators as taking “the deciding vote for Obamacare.” Three of the four Democrats are incumbents.
Landrieu, Hagan and Nunn have continued to blame everything on Republicans for not expanding Medicaid under the Obamacare law. Republicans have a much more effective approach that shows how average Americans have been – and are still – losing their healthcare insurance and their doctor because of Obamacare that Democrats voted for.
There are five more months to November’s midterm elections, and five months is a long time in politics.
Democrats are hoping for a political miracle. Republicans are hoping not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Don’t misunderestimate mainstream Republicans on that – they are very good at weak finishes.