Usually around this time in a President’s second term there is much talk about being “a lame duck” and “second term blues” relating to bad approval numbers and unfinished priorities. Johnson had the Vietnam War to deal with, Nixon had Watergate, and even the recently GOP sainted Ronald Reagan had Iran Contra. These were the tunes of scandal and despair that played out the end of their terms.
Despite the relentless attacks from the usual suspects on the far right President Obama is actually celebrating his greatest victory and the naysayers of doom and gloom have been finding it harder and harder to keep a foot hold on the tenuous partisan ground they staked out over six years ago. President Obama is winning the day and its driving haters crazy.
Despite a botched roll out the ACA has become a success. The current enrollment is currently over 8 million American and will continue to grow. This came as such a shock to Republicans that when the initial figures were released Washington Post Arch conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer declared the numbers to be bogus, false and untrue which led to President Obama astutely pointing out that some on the GOP’s side might have been experiencing the first stages of grief instead of offering clear and cogent analysis. Mr. Krauthammer strangely enough has not doubled down on his “phony numbers” claim.
Republicans and conservatives thought this day would never come; after all they had invested so much effort(trying to repeal the law over 50 times) in vilifying the ACA. According to their view the law could not be fixed and the only sound alternative was repeal.
One might argue the Senator Cruz repeal fiasco that led to last year’s Government shut down might have been the beginning of the end of Republican intransience but upon closer examination even Republican lawmakers admit that they dropped the ball on providing alternative legislation. The ACA still may not be universally popular but many Americans still feel that something should be done to fight rising drug and medical costs.
The dirty little secret is that the Conservative talk radio people have been screaming that not only should the law be repealed but that we should just leave everything to the myopic brand of every man for himself free market social Darwinism that has proven consistently unpopular since as far back as George Bush claimed the mantle of “compassionate conservative.” The GOP followed the conservative base and their cohorts in the ultra rabid Tea Party who don’t want any changes whatsoever to the status quo and now Republicans are paying a heavy price for listening to the zealots in their party. Last week when FL Rep Dennis Ross was confronted at a townhall over senior’s rising drug costs and the GOP’s repeal focus all he could offer was the following:
“I think one of the most unfortunate things my party did the last three years was not offer an alternative to health care. I’ve always felt that way.”
That statement seems a far cry from the “repeal at any price” chorus from the far right. It only took Republicans six years to realize that when you come to a negotiating table with no alternative to put forth you’ve basically failed your consitituents who now also see obstruction is no sound way to govern. Some of the American people may not like the way President Obama has governed but it cannot be denied that he has led.
In fact if one looks at the Real Clear Politics of average of Presidential approval its clear that Obama’s numbers have rebounded since the ACA rollout and the prediction of craters numbers have faded as the Karl Rove’s of the world open their eyes to the fact that Obama will leave office with a much higher approval number than George Bush.
And that brings us to President Obama’s triumph; they said the ACA would never work. They declared the roll out an indictment of the entire law. They swore they would never rest until every last word of the law was repealed. None of the things the GOP has wanted has come to fruition and now they see that running against the ACA is not a sure a prospect as they thought six months ago.
Now President Obama stands with his signature achievement behind him having successfully negated six years of Republican opposition. With two more years to go President Obama is free to pivot to immigration, fair pay, and any other number of democratic priorities. It would be folly to think that the GOP “party of no” fever has broken, but certainly the tides of fortune have shifted as conservatives realize the Tea Party wave of 2010 created a fog of that has wrecked their policy boat on a reef.