Republicans kick-off football season by fumbling the ball on Obamacare

GOP stepping on own news cycles, lacking strategy and endgame Photo: AP

TRENTON, N.J., October 1, 2013 — On Thursday, the Obama Administration announced that it would delay yet another provision of Obamacare, the so-called SHOP exchanges for small businesses. That headline should have been the news of the week. But it wasn’t.

It should have been the story of the week since it comes after at least four prior delays of the law, according to Politico. But that wasn’t the news of last week.

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The news instead was Sen. Ted Cruz and his 21-hour talk fest, which did not and could not change the law by even one iota. At the same time another shoe dropped in the continuing hemorrhage of support from Obamacare; it is now losing support even from a core element of the Democratic base, labor unions.

Thus — unnecessarily, inexplicably, yet predictably — the story became GOP infighting, not the cratering of the Democratic base.

The GOP in Congress stepped on the party’s news cycle, needlessly inserted itself into the narrative, and made it about them, and unflatteringly so. “Obstructionists, kidnappers, and fire-happy arsonists to boot!” is the narrative the nation is now saddled with.

In this, Cruz and Utah Senator Mike Lee’s Hail Mary of a defund gambit has now been exposed for the strategic miscalculation it always was, both for the party and the country. It’s bad for the country because it denies Americans the ability to see the law’s warts, and bad for the party because it robs the GOP of the consequent political advantage that would follow from that.

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Yet GOP Kamikazeism steamrolled, full speed ahead, into this week as the Party is actively stealing its own news cycle from itself, again. The news of the week on this, the first day of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, should be the massive mountain of unfavorable reviews the exchanges are getting. “Obamacare is off to a rocky start,” TIME reports today.

Glitches have not been few, as the president self-assuredly announced. Rather, today’s roll-out of the exchanges have been “riddled” with problems, says TIME; “plagued,” writes The Hill. Not a single headline — from The Atlantic Wire to NBC to USA Today — is devoid of at least one of the following words: “buggy”, “glitch,” “crash.”

This could be a good day for Republicans. But it’s not.

The headline of Obamacare delays last week and crashes this week are competing with — and worse, crowded out by — the news of today’s government shutdown.

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If it weren’t for today’s government shutdown, the news of today would be the crashes. It would also be the announcement from the president — who once declared he would stem “the rise of the oceans” and “heal” our whole planet — that if merely 17 percent of the uninsured sign up for the new exchanges, the law will be a success. If the administration drives expectations for these exchanges any further into the ground, the expectations will need a health plan of their own.

Even the president’s most ardent supporters must admit his difficulties stem, in no small part, from his own inflated rhetoric creating outsized expectations. To paraphrase a Southern aphorism: Obama has allowed his mouth to write checks that his policies simply cannot cash.

Hubris unabated, as if he learned nothing from the “rise of oceans” exercise in fatuous grandiosity, Obama proceeded today to compare himself to Steve Jobs, insisting Obamacare is just like the iPhone.

Yes, he compared it to the iPhone! (Photo: image munky / Flickr)

Yes, he compared it to the iPhone! (Photo: image munky / Flickr)

Yet, the greatest tragedy in this sordid saga is that many, many more Americans will hear Obama compare Republicans to kidnappers, than compare himself to Steve Jobs. Thus, Congressional Republicans have gone out of their way — as it was entirely avoidable — to reach exceedingly far into the jaws of victory and wrested from deep within, a defeat.

A fringe of Congressional Republicans has engaged in a huge strategic miscalculation, by turning what is a 60-40 ballyhoo for the GOP with Independent voters — opposition to Obamacare — into the opposite, essentially a 60-40 albatross around the neck of every Republicans in the 2013 and 2014 midterm elections: shutting down the government.  

Not coincidentally, on this very day, every single rating change the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato announced were changing races from “toss up to “leans Democrat.”

Politico reports that Democratic pollsters are now distributing memos to Democrats advising them to straddle Republicans with “Behavior-focused descriptors like ‘irresponsible’ and ‘reckless’” because they “are more effective than ideology-focused ones like ‘extreme’ and ‘radical.’” This is a concession that what Democrats have failed to win with their ideas, Republicans lawmakers have given them with a directionless and ham-handed response.

Congressional Republicanism, despite being furnished with both yarn and sewing needles made of political gold, have been unable to stitch together even a minimally competent endgame. 

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Charles Badger

Charles Badger has been a columnist for The Washington Times Communities section since 2013. He is a Republican political strategist, speechwriter, and former aide to a Member of Congress, currently working in disaster relief logistics & communications. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Berea College.

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