There’s a war going on within the Democratic party. And it is between the Krugman/Hamsher/Ed Schultz/Olberman wing of the extreme left and the more moderate (and politically aware) wing of the party. It’s focus is on health care. And the war was started Tuesday when Republican Scott Brown buried Democrat Martha Coakely and Teddy Kennedy’s legacy with a convincing defeat in the Massachusetts Senate special election. As I called it then, it was a game changer. The most immediate “game” it has changed is how to pass this health care monstrosity pending in Congress.
First the dawning awareness of what happened Tuesday to change the game from Lanny J. Davis (former counsel to Bill Clinton for two years):
Liberal Democrats might attempt to spin the shocking victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts by claiming that the loss was a result of a poor campaign by Martha Coakley. Would that it were so. This was a defeat not of the messenger, but of the message—and the sooner progressive Democrats face up to that fact, the better.
It’s the substance, stupid!
According to polls, fears about the Democrats’ health-care proposal played a prominent role in Mr. Brown’s victory yesterday. In the last several months, the minority congressional Republicans have dominated the message on health care—and stamped on the Democratic Party the perception that we stand for big government, higher taxes, and health insecurity when it comes to Medicare.
Perception? It’s 2000 pages of big government, higher taxes and “health insecurity” brought to you exclusively (since no Republicans have been allowed to participate) by Democrats. How is that just a perception, Mr. Davis?
But Davis is, at least, seeming to gain some insight as to what is going on. However, after saying “it’s the substance, stupid”, he claims that the reason for the public’s poor perception of the health care proposal is spin, not substance:
The Democrats have a simple message on health care that has still not really gotten through: If our bill passes, you never have to worry about getting, or losing, health insurance for the rest of your life. How is it that so few people have heard that message?
Very simply, it’s not gotten through because it’s not true. That certainly may be what Democrats hoped to accomplish, but that’s not at all what they’re crafted in this bill. So while Davis exhibits some inkling of what is going on, he’s still blinded to the reality of the true Democratic message. It is a big government, higher taxes and “health insecurity” monstrosity that the public rejects overwhelmingly.
Some Democratic Congressional types, however, are seeing the light. Here, for instance, is Senator Dianne Feinstein:
California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, for one, said the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts shows the fundamental political landscape has shifted and Democrats across the country have to take note, focusing on how to create jobs and keep people in their homes instead of trying to explain the need for sweeping social programs.
“I can tell you the situation has changed dramatically. And I think it’s a sweep across the country and I think that the (White House Economic Adviser) Larry Summers’s of the world have to see it, the administration has to see it and we have to see it. And Therefore everything is jobs and the economy and education. People are worried about education,” she said.
“You see anger. People are worried. And when they’re worried they don’t want to take on a broad new responsibility,” like health care reform, she said.
That is a politician in full survival mode sniffing the wind and determining how it is blowing. And she’d dead on right. She nails it. She’s figured it out. And that doesn’t bode well for HCR. It isn’t that the message hasn’t been presented properly like Davis claims. It is that the message has been rejected. The answer is “no”. The priorities have drastically shifted and it has taken a year for the out-of-touch Democrats to figure it out. But, as witnessed by DiFi (and Evan Bayh), some are beginning to do so.
That’s worrisome to the likes of Paul Krugman, as illustrated below, and to Joan Walsh of Salon.com:
Maybe House Democrats can pull this out, even with a gaping hole in White House leadership. Barney Frank seems to have thought better of his initial defeatism. But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.
Wow. If you recall, it was Ms. Walsh who claimed Republican criticism of Mr. Obama was “traitorous” and “un-American”. I’m sure since Walsh is doing it, this falls under “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” instead. Walsh comes from the “damn the public’s wishes, full speed ahead” wing of the extreme left part of the Democratic party. She, like Krugman below (and I’d bet the words she used are really his, not hers – they’re very similar), want this travesty pushed through no matter what – precedent and rules be damned, pass the bill.
Her attitude reflects much of the netroots and a growing disillusionment with the Democrats in general, not just Obama. And it is possible that disillusionment may begin to effect the rank-and-file Dems as well. One of the things that was obvious in MA on Tuesday was the huge enthusiasm gap in the state. Congressional Democrats are well on their way to increasing that gap by their actions, or, more properly, lack of action:
So why even vote for Democrats now? Really – the Senate Democrats just made us ask ourselves that. Have a super majority is a very uncommon thing in the Senate, with the last time being in 1965. Now the Democrats are saying “well we can’t do anything unless we have a super majority again”, or in other words, “go ahead and stay home Democrats”.
This really shows that Democrats excel at one thing – being losers. We need a tidal wave of new blood in the party to push out the old farts, who are driving the Democratic party into the grave with them.
Final point – Republicans should take heart (the public’s reaction fits their ideology much better than it does the Democrat’s), but need to figure out quickly that this dissatisfaction and disillusionment doesn’t mean they are automatically validated as being the party of choice because of it. They’ve been the party of the only resort for the most part.
This is a rebellion of the independents which includes dissatisfied and disillusioned former Democrats and Republicans. Probably not the Democrats I cite above – as the writer indicates, they’ll stay home – but certainly those who would be characterized as “conservative” Dems. The movement is loosely called the “Teaparty” movement. Tuesday it elected its first major candidate. Unless the GOP realizes this and realizes it soon, they stand as good a chance as the Democrats to see incumbents go down in November. This movement is just as likely to back an independent candidate (NY 23) or an insurgent candidate (Rubio) as a party candidate. That will become evident in the primaries. This is no longer about party politics. This is about forcing an issue – smaller and less intrusive government, fewer taxes, more freedom.
Figure it out or join the unemployment line, Dems and GOP.