Matt Lewis has an interesting discussion with former Democratic National Committee Executive Director Brian Lunde about how the health care debate seems to have gotten away from President Obama. Lunde tells Lewis that Obama “outsourced his health care policy, deferred to the congressional wing — and now it’s his. And he’s now trying to sell something that wasn’t his” and then relied too heavily on paid political professionals to “sell” a product that isn’t his.
Says Lunde: “If the public isn’t buying what you’re selling, it doesn’t matter. Bad policy cannot be changed by good communications techniques.” Lunde also contends that congressional Democrats don’t respect the president on policy the way congressional Republicans respected Ronald Reagan (and he might have mentioned George W. Bush too, though with much worse results.
There’s a simple reason for this though: In 1981, the congressional wing of the GOP was split between House members who had never won anything as impressive as Reagan’s victory and a Republican Senate majority that was built in no small part on people riding Reagan’s coattails. And after Bush’s increasing unpopularity battered the Republican brand, it is easy to forget that the 43rd president played a very active role in recruiting and boosting GOP candidates for Congress, especially the Senate, in 2002 and 2004. Many of the senior Democrats on Capitol Hill predate Obama and Democrats took control of Congress before Obama was elected president. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton faced much the same problem.
All that being said, it is too early to count out Obamacare when Democrats hold such large majorities in both houses of Congress and the swing vote belongs to the unreliable — for conservatives — Blue Dog Coalition in the House.
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