Many Eggs In Basket of Health Care
Unfortunately for them, James Carville won't be working for North Carolina Republicans this fall.
If he did, he might remind them that, once again, it's the economy, stupid.
Republican politicians and activists, in North Carolina and elsewhere, constitute a strange brew. Becoming increasingly insular, listening to and reading those of a like mind, many possess a great ability to convince themselves that their beliefs are always shared by a majority out there in the real world.
In that regard, they've become the liberals of the 1970s.
Out there in the real world, people are angry at institutions of authority of all shapes and sizes.
Conservative activists, with their tea party rallies and town hall protests, have been able to direct some of that anger at the Obama administration, health-care reform and incumbent Democratic politicians.
In secular society, government is the institution wielding the greatest authority. Republican politicians hope to direct more of that anger at government and those incumbent Democrats this fall.
But they seem to be putting an awful lot of their eggs in the health-care bunny's basket.
Recently, Republican legislators spoke at a Raleigh rally where about 150 conservatives continued denouncing the national health-care plan. Less than two blocks away, the top two GOP elected leaders of state government, Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, had hoped to push and prod Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper to join 14 other attorneys general in filing a lawsuit to challenge the health-care legislation.
Apparently Cooper is scared. He didn't show up for the meeting.
At the rally, State Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, the Republican leader of the state House, vowed that he and his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Phil Berger, would file legislation that would force Cooper to join the lawsuit and block enforcement of the law in North Carolina.
Who cares that some heavy-hitting law professors, including the fellow who once argued cases for Reagan administration before the U.S. Supreme Court, sees these efforts as absurd and futile?
Stam went on to say that if Democrats in the legislature stopped their bill, it would become the first order of business when the legislature reconvenes next January. The implication was that Republicans would be in charge by then.
What Stam, Berger et al. seemingly fail to grasp is that the Democrats, come the fall, will be just as willing to brandish the anger sword. They'll direct it at other institutions of authority distrusted by the public - insurers and banks - and accuse Republicans of doing their bidding, being their dupes.
In ads and mailers, opposition to the health-reform plan will become siding with insurers to deny coverage to those stricken with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
As anxiety ebbs regarding health-care reform, that simple message will have resonance.
Meanwhile, economists expect job growth to remain sluggish and economic anxiety to stay high.
Maybe there's a reason that Carville worked for the Democrats. When he called them stupid, he did get their attention.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association in Raleigh. Contact him at email@example.com.
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