Earth Paging Robert Shrum

We all make mistakes. The advantage to punditry of course is that you make them where everyone can see them, and the internet makes sure that everyone can see them forever and ever. This, above all reasons, might be why I drink.


Somebody ought to pour Robert Shrum a double — and keep them coming.

In just one column, we have all these mistakes:

• “Democrats need to adopt a new political approach and emphasize the popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act” Who’s going to care that their kids can stay on their policy when they had their policy taken away from them?

• “Sink didn’t lose because of Obamacare.” I keep hearing a lot of that, but Sink lost much of her spending advantage to the Evil Koch Brothers running ads against her and ♡bamaCare!!!.

• “In the March special, the electorate was depressed, and its composition was decidedly more Republican.” Why was the electorate depressed and more Republican? Could it be because of… ♡bamaCare!!!?

• “Sink was not a stellar candidate.” She was once nearly elected governor and this time was running against a lobbyist with what appears to be some kind of low-grade personality disorder and a weird past.

• “It’s profoundly dangerous for Democrats to draw the conclusion that their only safe choices are to flee left or right on Obamacare – or just stay stuck in the middle.” If Democrats don’t go left or right or in the center, they go where exactly?


• “The Affordable Care Act was the best, or most, the could have been squeezed through Congress –- and then only because of the legislative legerdemain of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” While the first part is true, Pelosi’s “legerdemain” cost her the Speaker’s gavel and made her one of the most reviled figures in current American politics.

• “In 1994, there were Democrats who conspicuously separated themselves from Bill Clinton, unpopular after the defeat of his health reform.” Voters didn’t sour against Democrats in ’94 because ClintonCare failed. They soured against Democrats because ClintonCare was attempted. If ♡bamaCare!!! had failed in 2010, or had something more modest and bipartisan been enacted instead, then Shrum wouldn’t find himself having to write this column.

• “Democrats have to stop allowing Republicans to define the election as an up or down vote on an abstraction called Obamacare.” The problem isn’t that ♡bamaCare!!! is an abstraction — people like it in the abstract, when Democrats do exactly what Shrum advises, which is to run on those tiny talking point bits that poll well. The problem is that ♡bamaCare!!! is becoming quite concrete, and people don’t like the results.


There’s more in Shrum’s column to correct — I very nearly decided to go Full Frontal Fisk on it. But what I reminded of most is the institutional blindness of Karl Rove and the national GOP in 2006. They had a nice majority in the House and big, fat bank accounts — and so they figured they could spend their way into keeping their majority. Slimmed down perhaps, but still in the majority. The American people however were outraged by the mismanagement of the Iraq War, and were determined to send the most powerful message possible. A party can’t buy its way out of that fix.

Democrats like Shrum seem to think the Democrats can hold the Senate by keeping the goodies flowing and deflecting on ♡bamaCare!!!.

He may be right. But we all make mistakes, and this one looks to me like a whopper.


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