When my last controversial column posted on Salon in the second week of August, most Democrats seemed frozen in suspended animation, not daring to criticize the Obama administration’s bungling of healthcare reform lest it give aid and comfort to the GOP. Well, that ice dam sure broke with a roar. Dissident Democrats found their voices, and by late August even the liberal lemmings of the mainstream media, from CBS to CNN, had drastically altered their tone of reportage, from priggish disdain of the town hall insurgency to frank admission of serious problems in the healthcare bills as well as of Obama’s declining national support.
By foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans, Democrats have managed to destroy the national coalition that elected Obama and that is unlikely to be repaired. If Obama fails to win reelection, let the blame be first laid at the door of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who at a pivotal point threw gasoline on the flames by comparing angry American citizens to Nazis. It is theoretically possible that Obama could turn the situation around with a strong speech on healthcare to Congress this week, but after a summer of grisly hemorrhaging, too much damage has been done. At this point, Democrats’ main hope for the 2012 presidential election is that Republicans nominate another hopelessly feeble candidate.
Meanwhile, a just-released Associated Press/GfK indicates that 52 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling health-care reform, up from 42 percent in July. Furthermore, 49 percent oppose the health-care bills currently pending in Congress, compared with 37 percent who support them.
I would say that Obama and his supporters have dug themselves quite a hole.