Friday, June 26, 2009

National Healthcare: REFORM is the watch word! My money is on Romney for 2012!


*** In Obama We Trust? Maybe now we understand why the RNC was so fired up about last night's town hall. President Obama, while peppered with tough questions about the issue, got an hour on national TV to make the case that he can be trusted to reform the health-care system.

Remember, it's not about winning the debate on whether his way is RIGHT; it's about securing the TRUST of skeptical Americans that he'll take their concerns and go about this with care. And on that score, this is where we probably get why so many of the president's opponents were upset. This format was in the president's wheelhouse. Whether you agree with him or not, it's obvious he has a deep grasp of the issue, and no doubt he only helped his cause. Of course, we don't yet know how many folks watched. But the perception that he got into the details most likely is only a help to him, even if those details become unpopular. By the way, it doesn't appear the president committed any news, though some noted that he continued to leave open the door for supporting a tax on some health-care benefits. Also health care remains in today's news as liberals and progressives rally for reform on Capitol Hill at 11:30 am ET.

*** Social Conservatism Hits Rock Bottom? These certainly haven't been the best of times for social conservatives. Democrats control the White House and Congress. The problems at home and abroad have drowned out social issues (with congressional Republicans deciding to focus their fire on the economy). And now here's perhaps the biggest embarrassment: In less than two weeks, two of their own -- John Ensign and Mark Sanford -- have admitted to committing adultery.

Just five years after it helped re-elect George W. Bush, has social conservatism in American politics hit rock bottom? If so, what does that mean for a political party that has largely tied its fortunes to this movement? As we've said before, infidelity is a bipartisan affair, but Republicans tend to receive more criticism because they more often portray themselves as the party protecting family values and marriage. Yet what happens when one can make the argument that the highest-profile example of family values and marriage -- right now -- isn't a Republican or social conservative, but rather the man who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? The issue for the GOP at this point is convincing grassroots social conservatives not to lose faith. As one of the leading social conservative voices in the party lamented to the New York Times, "I think there is somewhat of an identity crisis in the Republican Party," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, "Are they going to be a party that attracts values voters, and are they going to be the party that lives by those values?"

*** More On Sanford And 2012: Sticking with Sanford and his troubles, there's lots of analysis this morning focusing on the bad six months the GOP has had -- particularly for Republicans who have tested the 2012 waters (see yesterday's First Read).

A few things to watch for: One, who will pick up the mantle of the pure economic conservative/free market libertarian? Two, will grassroots social conservatives start expressing publicly their outrage over Sanford and Ensign and others and become harder to galvanize for the Republican Party as a whole? Three, do folks like Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour end up getting a big perception bump going into 2012 as the establishment looks for grownups who have been around the national political block before? Speaking of Barbour, he was in New Hampshire yesterday, and today he'll be in Des Moines, IA for a GOP dinner. He's an extraordinary fundraiser and helped lead the GOP's comeback to power in 1994, when he served as RNC chairman. On the other hand, he's a former lobbyist and Washington insider, as well as an older white male from the Deep South. By the way, thanks to the Sanford resignation, Barbour now has more excuses to travel nationally as he's now chair of the Republican Governors Association.
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