Democrats' New Strategy: Keep the Same Leaders, Defend Their Bad Legislation (Updated)
There's a somewhat hackneyed definition of insanity regarding doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get a different result. I won't tie that definition directly to the disturbingly perpetual grin worn by the Democrats' former speaker of the House, but it may be worth tying it to this amusing story in the New York Times. They're the newspaper of record, ya know.
Democratic leaders in Washington plan to spend the next week doing what they all but refused to do in the 2010 midterm elections: mount a vigorous defense of President Obama’s health care legislation.
The “all fronts” plan is a response to the decision by the new House speaker, John A. Boehner, to schedule a vote next Wednesday on a complete repeal of the health care law that Mr. Obama signed last March.
Senior Democratic officials said their effort would be managed by a rapid response operation modeled after the ones Mr. Obama used in his presidential campaign. That team will monitor Republican claims, send out fact-checks and deploy a team of surrogates to get their views on television.
If you caught any of Wednesday's coverage of the opening of the 112th Congress, you saw this strategy's first road test, and who is likely to be its standard bearer. After her odd, self-serving parting speech, Rep. Nancy Pelosi stayed farther away from TV cameras than she usually does. In her place, on every network I happened to catch, was Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, of Florida.
Schultz is arguably the best the Beltway Democrats have at the moment. She presents a younger face than either Pelosi or minority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, and isn't as odd or disconnected from reality as Sen. Harry Reid. She is no less of an ideologue than her party's leaders, though, and she has certainly learned to throw a few pitches doing minor league duty appearing on every MSNBC show nearly every day over the past couple of years. It remains to be seen whether Chris Matthews', Ed Schultz's, Keith Olbermann's and Rachel Maddow's left-handed slow pitch game is enough to get Wasserman-Schultz ready to go up against Speaker Boehner and his leadership team, or against the faster, less predictable pitching she'll face from the Right's talk radio and social media. When I was producing for the Laura Ingraham Show a couple of years ago, Wasserman-Schultz was obscure enough that we hardly paid any attention to her at all. If she does turn out to be the congressional Democrats' new lead spokeswoman, that will change, and quickly. Whether she fills that role or not, the Democrats have in fact kept the exact same leadership team that earned them the November shellacking. And says the Times, they're set to defend ObamaCare with a vigorous PR campaign. There's no "out with the old, in with the new" with these folks. It's just "in with the old, and still in with the old."