Democrats were said to be on "Kamikaze" mission- now it's the GOP?

Stan Greenberg, President Clinton's former pollster, writes in today's New York Times that the economy will still dominant voters minds in November, not health care.  But speaking of health care, the polls have been shifting slightly towards the Dems in recent times.

A poll that I conducted with the Democratic strategist James Carville for Democracy Corps over the past week showed a 5-point increase in the number of self-identified “intense” reform supporters, to 24 percent. Likewise, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest poll found that 28 percent of respondents were now “strong” supporters, up from 19 percent in January.

Across the public polls, while a literal majority of 50 percent opposed the reform package, the number in favor rose last week to an average of 42 percent. Voters have been watching the two parties and starting to recalibrate in favor of the Democrats, who — if one averages polling by the Associated Press; CNN; and NBC/Wall Street Journal — now hold a 9-point average advantage on the question of which party would do a better job with health care.

In addition, Republicans may have crossed a line with voters, particularly independents. In our Democracy Corps poll, we found that favorability ratings among independents for incumbent Republican members of Congress had dropped by 11 points in the last month, to just 42 percent. The Republican vote among independents in the Congressional ballot dropped by 12 points.

But in another article in the Times, written by Adam Nagourney, Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is now trotting out the old Colin Powell maxim on Iraq.  That is, Democrats, you wanted health care and all of its problems? Fine, you own it now.

“Someone at Harvard or in San Francisco might think that, but not the rest of the country,” said Senator Lamar Alexander,  Republican of Tennessee.

Mr. Alexander said Democrats would soon find themselves saddled with blame by Americans whenever they ran into a problem with an insurance company, even though Democrats have made a point of criticizing the insurance industry in the debate and asserting that without legislation the nation faced never-ending increases in premiums that would make health coverage less and less affordable.

The arguments will continue.


Last week South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, in discussing the Democrats push for a health care reform bill, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on a suicide mission.  He actually employed  more colorful terms:

"Nancy Pelosi, I think, has got them all liquored up on sake and you know, they're making a suicide run here," Graham said, adding later that  "I don't know whether it's sake or moonshine but no sober person would do this."

But the Democrats did on Sunday night.  And 36 hours later, the American public has not fallen in love with the legislation.  A CNN poll released last night shows 59% oppose the bill, while 39% support it (it should be noted that among that 59%, 13% say it's not progressive enough).

But also in the last 36 hours a new narrative has emerged.  That is, that more Americans who will be immediately helped by the legislation will not be so stridently opposed to it, as they discover those benefits.

A column by former Bush speechwriter David Frum was the rage on the internet yesterday, at least amongst liberals who delighted in seeing a Republican bash his fellow conservatives in what he might refer to as a suicide mission, writing:

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

The St. Pete Times' Howard Troxler takes that perspective this morning, writing about all the benefits that will kick in immediately, adding:

So it is all well and good to campaign against "socialism." It is another thing to tell millions of Americans who will start enjoying these benefits before the election that it was a mistake, and they should want to give them back.

As for anything in this bill that stings? Well, most of that comes later. Penalties on individuals who refuse health insurance. Penalties on employers who don't provide it. Many of the taxes that are supposed to pay for it all.

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