August 12, 2009
The constant comparisons between the current healthcare push and the Clintons’ are superficial and misguided. It is actually much more like last year’s presidential campaign.
First off, the Clintons wrote the bill behind closed doors and then sent it to congress to rubberstamp. When it came time to sell it congress was MIA, so it was left to Hilary alone. A lady driving around in a bus. This time around there are 200+ salesmen with skin in the game, that know their respective constituents and what moves them. That means every day we are going to have dozens of advocates on local radio, network TV, morning shows, op-eds, etc.
On top of that you’ve got the best explainer in chief the White House has ever seen, a great communications machine, and an organizing arm.
Now think back to the presidential campaign: Early on McCain made outrageous accusations and fabrications about Obama. That gave him an initial bump, but strategically it was a huge mistake because it gave Obama months to disprove each and every one. Independents started seeing through the lies and distortions, and by election day nothing McCain could throw stuck.
Same thing is happening now. Lies, misrepresentations and innuendos are scaring the beejesus out of grandma, but after a couple weeks of further silliness, and disproving from proponents, this tactic will lose teeth.
In the end public support will be split very much as in the election: 100% of Fox viewers (i.e. Republicans) will hate it. Independents will lean in favor and Democrats will all support it (even though many will have to swallow hard). Only difference is that since the election Republicans have bled members.
Of course this isn’t a popular vote, so it remains to be seen what a 57/43 opinion split will do to move Blue Dogs and the Maine Twins.