Hammond: 10 winning points on the shutdown, three lessons learned
The bottom line? Republicans lost. Republicans won.
It never does good thing for your party when you wet your pants and flee in terror, as House Speaker John A. Boehner (R.-Ohio) and his “leadership team” ultimately did.
That said, notwithstanding declamations from the puppet press to the contrary, the showdown will probably help Republicans in the 2014 midterm elections. Why?
First, while one heavily-touted poll showed House Republicans dropping seven points, the Associated Press showed Barack Obama’s approval ratings down to 37% — an 8 percent drop from earlier surveys. Many Americans came out of this convinced, for the first time, that Obama is a genuinely nasty and vengeful man.
Americans hate Congress, but love their congressman. For real analysis, congressional ratings are irrelevant, compared to the damage done to Obama’s “nice guy” brand.
Second, a Pew poll commissioned well into the shutdown found that there was a statistically insignificant difference between Americans who felt the GOP should insist on changes in ObamaCare and those who felt they should open the government without any preconditions.
Obviously, this poll was largely ignored in the puppet press. In fact, every poll — and there were more than one — suggesting that Democrats were not benefiting from the showdown disappeared into the ethosphere.
Which brings us to the third point: polls commissioned by Obama partisans, in this case, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, said exactly what their sponsors wanted them to say. Earlier this year, dozens of polls purported to show that over 90 percent of Americans, including Americans in places like North Dakota, supported the universal gun registry.
The same polls showed gun control support by over 80 percent from hard-core gun owners. These polls turned out to be bogus.
True, the same pollsters predicted an Obama victory in November, while Karl Rove was predicting the opposite.
But many conservatives, including me, felt that Rove was off-base, and an Obama-vs. Romney question is infinitely more difficult to fudge than a question on legislative procedure.
Fourth, although it had bad days, the stock market largely responded with a yawn, and most Americans found that, despite press histrionics, the roughly one quarter of the American economy going to government was producing something they could largely do without.
Fifth, at a time when ObamaCare is collapsing, conservatives forced “red state Democrats” running for reelection to firmly take a position in favor of the unpopular program — and the individual mandate.
Sixth, what’s important is not what New Yorkers and San Franciscans feel. The midterms in 2014 will be decided by 232 Republican House districts — 217 of which are “bright red” — and a handful of “red” districts held by House Democrats.
In the Senate, what will determine control of the chamber are places like Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Montana, North Carolina and West Virginia — all of which view ObamaCare much more unfavorably than the country as a whole. The hands of those who oppose ObamaCare have been strengthened in these places over the last two weeks.
Seventh, after Obama threatened a government shutdown, rather than make a single change in ObamaCare, it is clearer than ever that ObamaCare is collapsing. Reports are that far fewer than the administration’s tepid goal of 500,000 people will sign up in October. Presumably, most of these are people with preexisting conditions. What this means is not only that the system will fail; it will fail spectacularly.
Eighth, because of the showdown, Obama was unable to push his campaign for gun control, exploiting the Navy shipyard killings. Similarly, anti-gun immigration reform, scheduled for House consideration in October, has also been scuttled amidst a sea of bad blood. With the window for considering both of these measures rapidly closing, the showdown makes it much more likely that neither of these can be passed in the 113th Congress.
Ninth, it is a myth that the press, had it not focused on the “showdown,” would be reporting on the collapse of ObamaCare. FYI: Obama owns the press. It would be touting the vast popularity of ObamaCare, as evidenced by the millions of “hits.”
Tenth, as a result of Obama’s gun control push this spring — and his insistence on his unpopular ObamaCare mandate this month — the conservative base is riled up to tsunami levels. 2014 promises to be “2010 on steroids.”
Do these 10 points mean conservatives did everything right? No.
(1) Speaker Boehner and his team, in an effort to hold off amendments to the government funding resolution, the “CR,” argued that the debt limit would be a much easier target. Anyone who knew anything about the issue realized that this wasn’t the case. I argued for defunding ObamaCare on the continuing resolution. Does this mean they should have ignored the debt limit? Not necessarily. But they should have understood that amending the debt limit was not going to be a “piece of cake.”
(2) Like every American, you’ve probably been pounded by an Obama-orchestrated campaign in the “puppet press” that conservatives are “extortionists,” “kidnappers,” “terrorists,” “Maoists,” “racists” — and that they were losing the battle.
Republicans, by contrast, seemed almost whiny, as they complained, “Barack won’t come out and play.” Earlier this year, we won on guns because he we hit as hard as they did.
(3) The House did the right thing by quickly making the fight about the “individual mandate.” The Senate should have done the same.
We will have another chance in January. I know, I know. The GOP is suffering from battle fatigue. But by then, it will be clearer than ever that ObamaCare enrollment has been a complete failure — and that tens of millions of people will be facing hundreds of dollars of fines — right about the time of the 2014 elections.