A nifty accompaniment to Mark Halperin’s column in Time warning the GOP that if they think the media’s in the tank for O-Care now, just wait until the red wave starts to crest.
The President, however, may be indifferent to the acrid fussing of his Republican foes. He will be able to bask once again in the glow of positive press coverage (accented by a momentous signing ceremony), which will focus on four areas helpful to the Democrats’ prospects in November: the masterful display of White House patience and competence that got the job done; the elements of the legislation that are in fact consistently popular with large numbers of Americans, such as its insurance-company crackdowns; the return of the meme that Republicans are the party of No; and the accompanying rising poll numbers for the Administration and the new law…
Democrats will be joined in the fray by much of the press. For Republicans, this will seem like familiar ground, since generations of conservatives have complained that the so-called mainstream media have been biased against them. Well, get ready, Republicans, for déjà vu all over again. The coverage through November likely will highlight the most extreme attacks on the President and his law and spotlight stories of real Americans whose lives have been improved by access to health care (pushed, no doubt, by Democrats from every competitive congressional district and state). The louder Republicans yell, the more they will be characterized and caricatured as sore losers infuriated by the first major delivery of candidate Obama’s promise of “change.” The focus on the weekend’s alleged racial and gay-bashing verbal attacks by opponents of the Democrats’ plan should be a caution to Republican strategists trying to figure out how to manage the media this year.
I have to say, quite apart from my rooting interest in the election, I’m really, really looking forward to it as a political junkie. Not only will it be fun to watch Krugman, Frank Rich, and the entire MSNBC crew struggle to one-up themselves in finding pejoratives to toss at the conservative base, but I’m dying to know which side is right about this bill being a political winner or loser. Admittedly, the results won’t settle anything definitively: If the Democrats go down hard, they’ll blame “poor messaging” or unemployment or the fact that they didn’t make O-Care bigger or more socialistic, or anything else they can to avoid acknowledging the elephant in the room. The progressive dream of ages simply cannot be unpopular on the merits; there must be … something else. And so there will be, at least in their talking points. But for the undecideds, it’ll be a true empirical moment. In that same vein, see Ross Douthat’s and Megan McArdle’s posts today about the one thin not-so-silver lining in O-Care — the fact that the left’s rose-colored assumptions on everything from lives saved to money saved to improvements in quality of care will now be tested in the public laboratory. There’s no mystery what the prescription will be if that experiment fails too — spend more, more, more! — but at least we’ll finally know who was right. Here’s hoping, for all of our sakes, that our side was wrong.
So ingrained has the “ObamaCare will help us in November!” spin become on the left that Ed’s pal Tommy Christopher is now actually predicting that the Democrats might … pick up seats. I hope O-Care pays for whatever head injury you may have recently suffered, Tommy. Exit question: With the media in the tank and the bill itself so manifestly awesome, why is Obama planning a multi-year — yes, really — effort to sell it to the public?
Update: A friendly reminder from CQ Politics: 2010 isn’t necessarily the end of the damage to the new Lords of Medicine.