Our U.S. correspondent Tomas Mega, from Nevada, on how Democrats have mastered the art of self-destruction
Let’s invite Democrats to play a game. It’s an undemanding game called “I can’t believe we _______.” The objective of the game is for Democrats to finish the statement. I’ll help them get started: “I can’t believe we:
• Have deported more immigrants than any other Administration in history.”
• Have justified using drone attacks on our own citizens.”
• Are spying on our allies and our own citizenry.”
• Are seizing journalist’s phone records.”
You get the point, and if you’re an Obama supporter the game should make you disgusted straight away. There are many more answers to this game. They seem to come on a regular basis. Most recently we have:
“I can’t believe we have a President who lied.”
Democrats should be dismayed because in November of 2014, all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and thirty-three of 100 seats in the US Senate will be up for grabs. Will the outcome be more of the same divided, ideology driven government? Will Tea Party conservatives make major gains in the House and Senate? Will Democrats retain or lose control of the Senate? Can Democrats make solid gains in the House?
In recent well publicized elections, Democrats were buoyant and viewed the results as an indication of things to come. A Democrat won the governorship of Virginia in a hotly contested race in a politically divided state. New York elected its first Democratic mayor in two decades, and perhaps most surprisingly, a tea party candidate lost a primary in conservative Alabama. Some liberal pundits, impetuously, suggested that America was making a shift to the left.
With American anger over the government shutdown falling squarely upon Republican shoulders, Democrats had Republicans against the wall. The popularity of Republican politicians plummeted. Moderate Republican and independent voters were exasperated with tea party intransigence. Clearly, now was time for a big, bruising Democratic political knock-out punch.
But the President lied. The demons deep-rooted in Obamacare surfaced yet again. Not only did Obamacare get off to a pitiful, unforgivable technological start, but Obama and Democrats had to acknowledge that the President had “miss-spoke” when he said, for three years, that Americans would be able to keep their existing health insurance.
The effect was immediate. Obama’s approval rating sank to 39%, below that of George W. Bush at a similar time in his presidency. Public support for Obamacare has plummeted to its lowest point in three years. Perhaps worse for a President who is thinking about his legacy, a majority of Americans now consider him untrustworthy. That puts him squarely in the company of Richard M. Nixon.
Americans are generally a forgiving people. Political memories tend to be short, and popularity can swing back and forth like changes in the weather. But when a President is accused of lying for three years, Americans get angry. When accusations swirl that he, or somebody in his inner circle, really did know that some Americans would not be able to keep their existing health insurance, but refused to say so, support begins to dissolve. None of us like being lied to. When your President does it regarding his socially transformational, signature legislation, it is simply self destructive.
Compounding his credibility failure is that this revelation comes on the heels of the total collapse of the Obamacare website. The President has apologized for that debacle, saying he really didn’t know how bad it was. It seems no one involved with the website roll-out knew how bad it was.
Rubbish. A second-year IT student at any university in the world would recognize the perils in writing code for an immensely complicated interactive website. It’s inconceivable to think that some IT geek, sitting in an Obamacare cubicle somewhere, didn’t know the website could not possibly survive a clean live launch. Whether he, she or they were encouraged or even allowed to pass bad news ‘up the ladder’ is another matter. In any event, someone(s), somewhere, new.
Such is the damage of these early Obamacare cave-ins that in mid-November, thirty-nine Democrats joined Republicans in an effort to effectively scuttle a key element of the Obamacare legislation by allowing health insurers to resume selling low-cost policies that have been cancelled because they don’t provide all the protections and coverage required by Obamacare. Those Democrats are scared of the November 2014 election.
Perhaps what is most exasperating for Democrats is the fact that many thought Obamacare would rescue their fortunes. Once Americans began to see its perceived benefits – better coverage, lower costs, ease of use – approval ratings would rise, along with those of the President and Democratic legislators. And this, coming at a time when Republicans were reeling from engineering a disastrous government shutdown, would be the knock-out punch Democrats had sought going into a Congressional election year.
If only the Obama care website had worked. If only the President had not lied. The Administration had three years and lots of very smart people around to get this right. Little has worked as promised, leaving the President and Democrats looking like their fingers are nervously stuck on the self-destruct button. It appears no one asked a simple question basic to project management: “What if?”