Democrats have nearly perfected the following exercise in cynical electioneering: 1) introduce legislation; 2) title it something that appeals to the vast majority of Americans who have no interest in learning what is actually in the bill, e.g., the “Violence Against Women Act”; 3) make sure it is sufficiently noxious to the GOP that few Republicans will support it; 4) vote, and await headlines such as “[GOP Lawmaker] Votes No On Violence Against Women Act”; 5) clip and use headline in 30-second campaign ad; and 6) repeat.
The strategy is abetted by a compliant press. This dynamic was on full display during last year’s presidential campaign, when ABC News anchor and former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos brought up a 1965 Supreme Court ruling on contraception during a GOP primary debate, just days before the White House announced new guidelines regarding the contraceptive mandate under Obamacare. It was also in evidence when a Huffington Post reporter asked Mitt Romney’s advisers whether their boss supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, shortly before Senate Democrats initiated their push for legislation called the Paycheck Fairness Act; the awkward exchange prompted serviceable headlines, such as “Does Mitt Romney Support Equal Pay For Women?” and “Democrats Slam Romney Waffling on Fair Pay Act.”
The recent Huffington Post treatment of Senator Rubio is merely a taste of what is come. Certainty, the Democratic party’s plans for using this playbook extend well beyond 2014.