Published in the New York Post on October 13, 2010
The single most amazing thing in this year’s campaigns is that no one is defending President Obama’s legislative accomplishments.
Obama’s impact has been revolutionary: radically changing our health-care system, betting our national solvency on “stimulus,” erasing the line between the public and private sectors. Yet there is an almost total lack of support for his program on the stump.
Democrats’ campaigns consist almost entirely of personal attacks on their opponents. If they dabble in issues, they go for those on the periphery of our politics, trying to milk fear from GOP discussions of privatizing Social Security and tax reform.
But nobody is arguing that the stimulus worked or that ObamaCare is a good thing or that GM is recovering because Obama bailed it out.
Most Democrats mention Obama or his program only to distance themselves from the man and his ideas. Even those who vote with him 95 percent of the time herald their “independence” and run as far from him as they can.
The only Democrat who has stepped forward to boldly defend ObamaCare in his campaign is Wisconsin’s Sen. Russ Feingold. Yet, since he started airing ads applauding the president’s health-care reforms, he’s fallen from 8 points behind to 12 points — which offers a clue as to why nobody else has taken up the chant.
Even as the Dems go far out of their way to avoid a national message, Republicans are remarkably disciplined in their advocacy. They cite the Obama legislative record, often in quite impartial terms, and leave it up to the voters to turn against the Democrats who support it. They have only to mention the words — “stimulus,” “TARP,” “ObamaCare” — to drive voters to their ranks.
It’s not unusual for candidates from the president’s party to avoid him on the stump and beg off from his events in their districts. But this is the first time so many lawmakers have run away from their own voting records.
One can well understand if they refuse to embrace Republican descriptions of their bills. But they won’t even step up with their own descriptions, to try to sell the positive aspects of their own legislation. The president’s program is an orphan.