How Will Vote Make Itself Felt?
John Boehner and others may be reading too much into Tuesday’s election results, but President Obama may not be reading enough.
Boehner, presumably the next speaker of the U.S. House, said the American people who went to the polls were saying, among other things, that they wanted Washington to junk the “monstrosity” of health care reform outright.
But were they? In surveys, only 18 percent of voters listed health care as the nation’s most burning political issue. And, while 48 percent said they wanted the Affordable Care Bill repealed, 47 percent preferred to keep it as is or make it even stronger. Hardly a mandate either way.
Ball’s in the Other Court
If those yelling for repeal are serious, then it is only fair to hold their feet to the fire and ask, OK, exactly which parts do we repeal? Shall we start by tossing out the provision, already in effect, that allows students to remain on their parents’ insurance polices through age 26?
Or, when push comes to shove, do we really cave in to the insurance companies and take out the part of the law designed to keep them from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions? How popular will that be?
Though the Democrats see little to be happy about in Tuesday’s returns, there is this positive result: As always in such Capitol Hill turnovers, this one will force the winners to put up or shut up. It’s easier to sit back and second-guess those in power than to take their place and start making the decisions yourself — and living with the political consequences.
Sad but Not Sorry?
Speaking of living with consequences, Obama’s post-election press conference hardly qualifies as his finest hour.
The president acknowledged that the “shellacking” at the hands of the electorate made him feel bad. It was the worst Election Day for Democrats since FDR walked the halls of the White House. That’s 72 years, for those of you keeping score at home. The defeat of so many of his fellow Democrats made him “sad.” But he couldn’t quite bring himself to use another s-word: “sorry.” Though he hinted at it, he couldn’t come out and admit that much of what had happened was his fault.
The president deserves much credit for what he has managed to accomplish in his first two years. But by pushing so hard and so fast, making so many enemies, and giving people too many reasons to place some credence in the baloney that he is a “socialist” or worse, he played the central role in creating the mood reflected in Tuesday’s results.
If Obama wants to get anything else done, he’ll have to reach out more to the Republicans on Capitol Hill — as he did on Thursday by inviting some GOP leaders to the White House. And those Republicans, if they hope to keep their jobs, will have to pursue worthier goals than the one Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell so shamefully set forth the other day: to spend the next two years trying to make sure Obama is a one-term president.
On balance, can we dare hope that the election results might somehow combine — each in its own way and for its own reasons — to help bring about a more cooperative, bipartisan working relationship in Washington?
Hope, maybe, if not expect.
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