This Politico article reflects a common theme among pundits and those in the political game, treating politics as a sport in which people like a winner. The theory goes that Obama’s victory in passing HCR should lead to a significant boost in his standing in the polls.
It’s true that people like a winner. And I have little doubt that the passage of HCR will improve Obama’s ratings with those liberals and leftists who were frustrated with Obama during the time it seemed as though the bill would never become law. But I cannot imagine why anyone with a grain of common sense would think that mere passage of what is perceived by many people to be a bad law would raise his stock in the eyes of those who oppose it.
The public likes strength in a president. But most Americans would like that strength to be marshaled against our enemies and to work on our behalf, not vice versa. We the people would like to be the judge of what would benefit us, not a government and leader perceived as increasingly out of control. Politics is not a game where it’s all about who wins a certain battle, although those who reflect on these things for a living might come to think so. But for most people, a win is only a win if we are in agreement with the goal.
One of the strongest Democrat memes is that, as people come to learn more about this bill, they will like it better. That has not panned out at all so far; quite the opposite has been true. Of course, this doesn’t mean that things couldn’t reverse. But Democrats seem to underestimate the American public, assuming that all most people care about is immediate gratification: bread and circuses.
Obama pollster Joel Benenson certainly thinks so:
…[He] predicted the plan would grow in popularity over time, as the public learned it included a ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and helped seniors close the “doughnut hole” of prescription drug costs not covered by Medicare.
“When it comes to health care and insurance, once reform passes, the tangible benefits Americans will realize will trump the fear-mongering rhetoric opponents are stoking today,” he wrote.
I like to think that most Americans are not children in a toy store, looking at the shiny objects and coveting them no matter what they cost. Of course, some people operate just that way. But perhaps not as many as Obama and the Democrats are counting on. Amazingly, quite a few citizens take the long view and realize that such entitlements and perks must be paid for, and that we are in a financial crisis that only promises to get worse as already-existing entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security increase the number of their beneficiaries at the very same time that the number of working people to pay for them decreases as a proportion of the total population.
That’s not rocket science, it’s common sense. But common sense is something that political pundits, Democrat politicians, and our president seem to lack. Or perhaps their goals are not our goals.