Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hyping the scandals is not a game changer

The “scandals”  seem to be heaped one on top of another on the White House lately.   While there is some fire in the substance, the hyperventilated, over the top smoke  blown mightily   by the GOP   is also about the 2014 midterms. It is a political strategy that is  sound and fury likely to signify little in the end.
 The GOP seems determined to pin the problem on Pres. Obama, best if he can be found to be the actual perpetrator (and so far they have failed to do that), or at least the head of   an overreached, out of control, incompetent administration.  Therefore, the GOP hopes the President will be so wounded,  Congressional and Senatorial elections will go their way as voters become disgusted with anything tied to him.
The GOP views the  rollout of Obamacare   like a fox salivating at the possibilities of catching chipmunk in a rock garden.  They hope Obamacare will fail miserably.  They have laid the groundwork to self  fulfill their prophecy.    Whenever  some southern and Midwestern  governors and state legislatures were in  GOP control, they have refused to set up the state managed exchanges…resulting in the mistrusted feds having to do it for them and leaving a gap of millions who would not have access to expanded Medicaid or Obamacare. They have cut out funds slated  to encourage  currently uninsured into subscribe to  the subsidized exchanges,  hoping if  they built it, no one came.
Except where they have tried to sabotage the roll out, the GOP is taking a risk.  The roll out might work…because California, Colorado, and Massachusetts, and New Jersey  and Pacific Coast states are well prepared . The cost of the subsidized premiums in California have come in much lower than actuarial studies predicted.  Colorado is well ahead of the game, already testing  technology and with 17 private insurers signed on to participate.
 Where the GOP will be able to howl in protest and point to failure will be in states where they are  already  strong. All politics in electing representatives and s enators are local.  They will be preaching to their  choir,  safe  in gerrymandered non competitive  districts.    Any failures of the roll out could blowback on the GOP when the successes in other states could be contrasted with the bungling in the purposefully unprepared states.
The GOP has tried to inflate the “scandals”  by painting them as “Nixonian”.    In their zeal to try to draw  comparisons  of Obama with Nixon they  fall very flat.  Nixon himself  ordered the IRS to  audit politicians, groups and journalists on his enemies list.  It was not a case of  bungling by career service bureaucrats  and an overprotective White House staff, as it appears involved in  this current “scandal”.
 The attempt by Nixon  to hush up the Washington Post was not because the CIA or national security was  jeopardized by their reporting. The Watergate coverup was his directed attempt to cover his role in a criminal act. However, it  was AP’s and Fox’s reporting of the leak  that blew the cover off covert action against Al Qaeda in Yemen, endangering our war against terrorists, that triggered the Attorney General’s investigation.  
Nothing this year equals the Iran Contra Scandal in which the Reagan administration  skirted laws to run  Central American covert actions,  or the revenge seeking W Bush administration blowing CIA operative Valerie Plame’s cover.
As a strategy, even these more substantive  scandals have  not  changes the  party domination in the immediately following elections in the past. Economic issues were always larger factors.
So…fire away GOP.  Voters will begin asking where  is  your replacement  for Obamacare or what you will do about employment and the disappearing middle class. A GOP  blocking immigration reform will only feed  Democrats’ winning demographics.  Those are the real game changers.
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This is a version of my column that will appear in the Sky Hi Daily News this week.

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