If Barack Obama has lost Bill Clinton, has he lost the country?
The former president said earlier this week that the current one ought to live up to his commitments, that he ought to make good on his promise that any American who liked the health care they had would, under Obamacare, be able to keep it. The He-Clinton is far from the first Democrat to break with Obama on the issue but, until his wife follows suit, he is the most important.
All around Washington, members of the president's party are trying to resist the urge to go for the chicken switch. The president's poll numbers are falling rapidly and have reached records lows now that people are coming to understand what Obamacare means for them and their health insurance. Most of them liked the idea when they thought it would lead to free health care paid for by someone else. Now that they are beginning to understand the reality, they like it less and less and the politicians up for re-election in 2014 are begging for relief.
It's amazing how things have changed since the government shutdown of just a few weeks ago, an event that had most prognosticators forecasting the end of the modern Republican Party. Instead, Democrats up for re-election next year are making the trek up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House to plead for a one-year delay in the imposition of the individual mandate, lest the current course of events lead to a GOP-controlled Senate for the last two years of Obama's presidency. They are soon to learn what the Republicans learned during the shutdown: When it comes to his signature political achievement, the president will not move.
Now is the time for the GOP and the opponents of Obamacare to strike. While they can always point to the He-Clinton's comments, the truth is that the health care plans millions of Americans have already lost are gone. They cannot be recreated. They have been erased from the books and there is no going back except at great cost to the industry and to the insured. What the people who want to repeal Obamacare need to do is go back to the beginning – and that means going up now with ads against Democrats in the U.S. Senate in particular who voted for it in the first place.
Using Louisiana's Mary Landrieu as an example – the Pelican's State's senior senator now being one of those Democrats seeking a delay in the individual mandate – an ad that went something like this would be most effective:
Mary Landrieu says she doesn't like the way Obamacare is rolling out any more than you do. She's introduced legislation to delay the imposition of the individual mandate by one year. Except that won't fix the problem – it will just kick the can down the road until after she next comes before you, the voters. What you need to remember is that if it wasn't for Mary Landrieu having voted for it, Obamacare never would have become law in the first place. Now she's trying to undo what she's done by tinkering with it on the margins. That won't work. If you don't like Obamacare … If you want to get back the health insurance and the doctor you had before it took effect … You need to replace your United States Senator. Period.
An ad like that, featuring a picture of Landrieu or Alaska's Mark Begich or Arkansas' Mark Pryor or even Al Franken in Minnesota would have a real impact. It would move voters by reminding them just who is responsible for the mess that everyone is now trying to dig their way out of. It's hardball, but that's the only way to do it.