I wouldn't be surprised if that produces a backlash. It's one thing to campaign against the bill — it might even be a winning strategy among right and center-right voters — but the Drudge/Fox/Rush axis is going to force conservative candidates into ever shriller and more baroque denunciations (see, for example, Mitt Romney claiming that "President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation"), and that might not wear so well even out in the fabled heartland. That's especially true when it turns out that the fabric of the nation doesn't collapse the way it was supposed to on the day after the bill was signed.See also David (my brother) Bernstein. Ezra Klein, however, has a more benign view of what the Republicans are saying this week:
I'd take the talk of constitutional challenges and the talk of repeal as the necessary end point for the GOP in this debate. You can't spend a year calling something a dire threat to American freedom and then shrug your shoulders once it's passed. You at least need to assure your allies that you believed what you were saying all along. But as the days and months and years go on, it's going to be very difficult to keep up that intensity.I can see it working out either way. Perhaps the repeal rhetoric will fade, perhaps it won't. Either way, I'll stick with my more confident expectation, which is that Republicans will run against the health care system, blaming everything that goes wrong with anybody's health care or insurance on big bad Obamacare, just as they blamed the economy on Obama as soon as he was sworn in to office.
I'll give Drum the last word:
Generally speaking, the D/F/R axis isn't that visible outside its direct audience. That's a good thing for Republicans since the stuff they spout really doesn't go over well with anyone outside the true believer base. But if Republican candidates feel like they have to toe the axis line, suddenly it's going to be a lot more visible — and it might turn off a lot of people. We'll see.
I disagree with Drum on the D/F/R axis not being visible. How many candidates have been felled in recent years by the interwebs, from macaca to lazy firefighters? Joe Wilson AND Neugebauer find themselves in suddenly much more intense races (even if the outcomes likely won't change that much). Imus is a pariah. And Michael Steele got to condemn the utility of his chairmanship to an early grave by not bowing to Rush.ReplyDelete
My point isn't that middle America is consuming any of the extreme media. Rather, particularly for the media on the right, there are lefties watching them waiting to pounce and share their boo-boos with the rest of the world. Stewart and Colbert have the loudest microphones, but there are others. And, if the story is salacious enough or its a slow enough news day, there's a chance that some crazy utterance gets out there. This isn't restricted to crazies on the right, but I get the sense that the left is more interested in pointing out the foibles of particular figures on the right than vice-versa. (Conservatives seem content to argue against straw-men, while liberals seem to want ad hominem arguments).
As long as the candidates in swing districts can keep crazy at arm's length, they should be fine. But, I think they always run the risk of having to "disavow" someone on their side, and then face a backlash from their base.