Nick Gourevitch posted this remarkable line graph on Twitter. It shows the approval rating of the Affordable Care Act over time. Note that we are not asking people about “Obamacare,” which consistently polls worse even though they are the same thing. Don’t think about that, or you will lose faith in broad surveys of public opinion. Instead, look at how unpopular the Affordable Care Act is from pretty much the beginning of Obama’s second term—right up until about six months ago, when it jumps 13 points. As the G-man points out, that’s a big swing in our present climate of hardened opinions. I wonder what could have happened six months ago to make the ACA look so much better to people? If only there were some signal event. Two explanations for this jump leap to mind.
- Obamacare looks better when you start trying to replace it.
- Democrats are actively defending Obamacare for the first time in years.
I lean toward explanation (2). I have definitely noticed a marked decrease in people yelling about how bad Obamacare is, and that supports explanation (1). Now that the onus is on Republicans to develop a replacement, they are less interested in framing current law as a crisis. You will notice that the House of Representatives did not pass 30-some proposals that would replace Obamacare. They just kept voting to repeal it, because they knew that wouldn’t happen. Now that they control both houses and the Oval Office, they must replace. They are therefore less inclined to present the Affordable Care Act as a national emergency. I think this generally reduced demonization accounts for some of the swing, but the more influential factor is Democrats going out and actively defending the law.
When the CBO says millions of Americans would lose their insurance under the Senate health’s care plan, it implies that those people got insurance thanks to the ACA. We’re hearing about those CBO scores from Democratic activists. Meanwhile, the constant viral urgings to call our representatives in Congress also serves to remind us, regularly, that Obamacare did some good. This is the marketing campaign that’s been missing for the last five years. Obamacare went from mostly disliked to mostly liked in six months, because it finally got a full-throated defense. That’s frustrating if you look at it wrong, but it’s not so hard to make it heartening.
The president is tired. Photo by Pat Benic of UPI
Maybe it was just that 1/20th of a second, but Barack Obama looks really, really tired. Perhaps his facial muscles aren’t used to his new “fuck it, we’ll do it live” approach to governing. Since the 2014 election, when Democrats across the country ran from his agenda and lost anyway, the president has both embraced bold action and reaped the benefit of long-term policies. The stock market is at an all-time high, he has outperformed Reagan on job growth—or not, depending on whom you ask—and his approval rating now approaches that of Reagan in his sixth year. Ronald Reagan! The greatest president in American history, provided you pieced together American history from Sarah Palin speeches. But I presume conservatives will rally behind Obama now, since the indicators suggest they should.
President Obama meets with members of the House of Representatives
Over at Time magazine—which may just be a website now—Michael Scherer notes how far we’ve come since 2004, when a young firebrand named Barack Obama declared that “there’s not a liberal and a conservative America; there’s a United States of America.” Props to The Cure for the link. Shortly after that speech, we re-elected George W. Bush, hated him, and gave control of Congress to the Democrats in 2006. Then we elected Obama, hated him, and gave the House to Republicans in 2010. Now we appear to be on the eve of repeating that process with the Senate.
If you’ve played an hour and can’t spot the devil at the table, you are the devil.
We all know that Barack Obama is either a genius tactician or the puppet of a Maoist conspiracy. He’s black, and all previous black candidates for president were puppets of Maoist conspiracies. That’s why they lost. Obama won, so it therefore follows that he is a genius tactician. I introduce this airtight syllogism because his recent behavior re: Syria seems kind of weird. He said he wanted to intervene, but then he went and asked Congress, the same people who vigorously opposed his plan to put different light bulbs in the White House. Why, if Obama wants to intervene in Syria, would he seek a resolution from the most hostile House of Representatives and the most dysfunctional Senate in recent history? The answer is simple: he doesn’t want to intervene in Syria.
But this guy is the dick for telling you about it.
Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal ran stories about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court this week, and I urge you to read them. The FISC, which the Times insists on calling the “FISA court” after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, has established a body of case law that significantly expands the federal government’s domestic surveillance powers, and it’s all secret. You’re not allowed to know what the FISC determines the NSA and FBI can legally do, because that would help terrorists. In June, when the Senate asked NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander whether FISC would ever make some of its rulings public, Alexander said:
I don’t want to jeopardize the security of Americans by making a mistake in saying, ‘Yes, we’re going to do all that.’
So “no,” then? Here’s a link to Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” just in case Gen. Alexander is reading this. We know someone in his office is.