Chris Christie’s Gay Marriage Decision And The Politics Of 2016

Chris Christie's decision to take a tactical retreat on the issue of same-sex marriage raises some interesting questions for 2016.

Chris-Christie-Hurricane-Sandy

Not surprisingly, Chris Christie’s decision yesterday to withdraw his Administration’s appeal of a state trial court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the Garden State, thus making New Jersey the 14th state in which marriage equality has been recognized, is being viewed by many with an eye toward 2016 and what pretty much every one assumes will be the inevitable run for the Presidency. On its face it seems like a bad political move on his part given the fact that the GOP primary electorate tends to skew to the right and, in the case of early states like Iowa and South Carolina, very heavily toward the Christian Right. As Chris Geidner notes at Buzzfeed Politics, though, this may turn out to be less of a problem for Christie come 2016 than many believe:

Christie’s entire defense of the marriage law, in fact, has been premised — like Monday’s statement — upon process and not upon his personal opposition to same-sex couples’ marriages, which he has continued to maintain in his bid for reelection.

When the trial court ruled against Christie in September, for example, he did not defend “traditional marriage” or something similar. Instead, he looked to process, with a spokesman saying, “Gov. Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”

Christie, however, is a contender for president in 2016, and his decision to soft-pedal his defense as one about process and not one about “protecting traditional marriage” is a marked contrast for an elected Republican Party official with presidential aspirations. Back in 1996, when Hawaii courts looked like they would be requiring the state to allow same-sex couples to marry, Republicans in Congress pushed through the Defense of Marriage Act in an attempt to score political points on the issue and help Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. In 2004, in response to the backlash against marriage equality in Massachusetts, President George W. Bush endorsed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Now, though, Christie has signaled — at least for him — that things could look different in 2016.

With the Supreme Court having struck down the federal ban on recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages in the Defense of Marriage Act this June and seven states in the past year having joined the six states and the District of Columbia with marriage equality, Christie was faced with the dilemma of the Republican Party today. Although the party base — as reflected in a party platform that supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying — still opposes most LGBT rights, the trajectory of public support for those same rights is increasingly clear to the people who fund and run Republican campaigns.

Christie chose to straddle the divide, fighting marriage equality — but not too hard — and maintaining his personal opposition — but not too loudly. And, eventually, he gave in. Christie’s move echoes House Republicans, who similarly gave up defending laws — in their case, DOMA-like statutes — after it was clear they would be unconstitutional but before final court rulings declaring them so.

(…)

With the electoral math for anyone planning on running for president three years from now changing on this issue monthly, Christie came as close to taking no position on the issue as someone who is the governor of a state in the middle of a marriage equality fight could take. And yet, by 2016, that turn away from seeking to win elections on the politics of opposing LGBT rights, as subtle as Christie’s move was on Monday, could look very smart indeed.

Of course, to get to the point where he can have the luxury of worrying about electoral math, Christie would first have to get past a Republican nomination process that, at least at a glance seems to be pretty hostile to a Northeastern Republican in particular and Christie specifically. After all, this is the same guy who has been criticized relentlessly over the past year for “cozying up to Obama” when the President came to visit New Jersey after the worst storm to hit that state in modern memory. He was even accused of costing Mitt Romney the election, even though the arguments in favor of that idea were and remain fundamentally absurd. When the Republican controlled House refused to act on a Sandy Disaster Relief Bill during the final hours of the 112th Congress, Christie, not surprisingly, went on something of an epic rant against House Republicans who he believed were unfairly holding back much needed aid to New Jersey residents. Between those two events, he was well on his way to being labeled a RINO despite being the most popular elected Republican in the country who is now headed for a blowout reelection in a a solidly blue state. With his latest decision, he’s raised the ire of the social conservatives:

“This would suit him a lot better if he were running as a Democrat,”   Iowa conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats told the National Review.

According to Vander Plaats, social conservatives “had some cautionary flags raised already,” aboutChristie. ”

“This just adds more concern to those cautionary flags, because not only is he backing away from a very principled stance of one-man-one-woman marriage, he’s also backing away from the Constitution and the separation of powers,” he told the Review.

Christie, who is up for reelection in two weeks is widely speculated to have his eyes on the White House.  As such, most of what he does is viewed through that prism as pundits, journalists and potential opponents parse his every move to determine its affect on his future aspirations.

Brian Brown, president of National Organization for Marriage, who set up shop in New Jersey during the legislature’s first attempt to legalize gay marriage said the governor had abandoned the fight and might well pay should he jump into the 2016 race.

 ”I wouldn’t want to be going into Iowa and be a potential presidential candidate and be the one who refused to stand up to defend marriage in New Jersey,” he said in an interview with the Review. “Do we have any illusions, given the nature of the decision, that there was a high likelihood that his appeal would succeed? No. But that’s irrelevant. You do what’s right regardless of the cost.”

Of course, Vander Plaats and Brown and people like them were never really going to be strong Christie backers in a Republican primary to begin with. They’re more likely to rally around one of the many socially conservative Republicans who have been mentioned as potential Presidential candidates, ranging from Ted Cruz to Rick Santorum. A potential Christie run for the GOP nomination in 2016 would likely bypass Iowa and South Carolina to a large degree and concentrate on New Hampshire as the kickoff, followed by Florida and other big open primary states, and he’d likely have a lot of the same business community support behind it that Mitt Romney did in 2012. Already, in fact, it’s being reported that the big time Republican donors are very pleased with Christie’s decision to put the same-sex marriage issue behind him rather than letting it drag out to the ultimate defeat in the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the vast majority of Republican primaries outside of states like South Carolina will be open primaries that will allow people not registered Republican to vote in the election. These are voters that are far more likely to be sympathetic to a candidate like Christie than to someone like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, who would find their base of support among hardcore party members and conservatives. Those open primaries are one of the things that allowed Mitt Romney to so easily put candidates like Santorum and Gingrich behind him even as they racked up a handful of wins in the more conservative states in the south that everyone knew would vote Republican in the General Election. Among the voters in those open primary states, not to mention delegate rich states like New York and California, Christie’s decision to bow to the blindingly obvious when it comes to a legal fight that his Administration was going to lose anyway isn’t likely to be all that much of a handicap.

Finally, as Geidner notes above, public opinion on same-sex marriage is constantly shift toward more and more acceptance. We now stand at 14 states where marriage equality is the law of the land. By 2016, that number is only going to expand, with likely candidate states including Illinois, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Oregon. Polling now shows that a majority supports the idea that gays and lesbians should be able to marry whomever they wish. By putting the issue behind him in this manner, Christie is arguably leading the GOP to the future rather than sticking his neck out. He can say, for example, that he still opposes same-sex marriage but that as Governor of New Jersey he will respect the rule of law in his state, and that he believes that each state should have the ability to decide the question for themselves. While it’s not the position I agree with since I reject the “state’s rights” argument here, it strikes me as the best place we can expect the GOP to evolve to in the near future, at least until the Supreme Court finally decides this issue once and for all. The days where the GOP could find it politically profitable by trying to stop same-sex marriage on the state level, or by supporting a ridiculous Constitutional Amendment, are over and Christie’s decision offers Republicans a way to thread the needle that wouldn’t create a cultural divide within the party, at least not in the short term. The question is whether Republicans will follow his path, or the one laid out by people liked Vander Platts and Brown, which just leads to increasing irrelevance.

More broadly, though, what’s truly bizarre about all the Christie bashing that one sees from the hard right is the fact that, in many ways, he’s the perfect Republican candidate for 2016:

Economically, Christie’s policies have been typically Republican: spending cuts, property tax caps, bashing unfair advantages for public employees — but he is not an anti-tax dogmatist or an advocate of draconian spending cuts. His watchword is truly commonsense conservatism with regard to government. He wants it to work; he thinks there is a role for it, a big one. New Jersey’s governor is uniquely powerful; the state’s tax system is uniquely awful, unfair to both businesses and individuals; a little reform can build a lot of credibility with voters. At the same time, he has ideas about its role that will meaningfully differ with the Democratic presidential nominee.

There is nothing he has done — not one thing — that would render him unacceptable to a majority of the 2016 electorate. (Yes, he’s against gay marriage. He’s made it clear, by his actions Monday, that he is not prepared to litigate the issue nationwide, that he understands his personal views are on the wrong side of history, and that he will not expend political capital on an ideological crusade in order to please the Republican base.) If the GOP primary sorts out into a Ted Cruz-Rand Paul revanchist wing and a commonsense governing conservative wing, Christie can probably make it through the gauntlet of the GOP nomination contest. And about his size: it still marks him as a regular guy, and his surgery to reduce it is probably enough to satisfy any lingering concerns about his hardiness.

He might not run.

He might face a steamroller in Hillary Clinton.

He might find himself enveloped in a major scandal. (If you listen to Sean Hannity’s radio program, Hannity certainly seems to think that there is a lot of untilled dirt out there.)

But right now, he’s probably the best thing going for the GOP.

Obviously, it’s a long time between now and when the voting for the 2016 GOP nomination actually begins, and what Marc Ambinder writes today may seem very outdated by then. We can all point to candidates in both parties who seemed like the obvious choice at this point in a recent election cycle who faded fast once the rubber hit the road. That may happen with Christie, or  it may not. So far, he’s been uniquely lucky in politics. Before becoming U.S. Attorney for New Jersey under President George W. Bush, his only prior political experience had been a three year stint on the Morris County, New Jersey Board of Freeholders. Yet, he manged to win both the Republican nomination and the election in for Governor in 2009, although he was helped along in that task by the fact that the incumbent Governor, Jon Corzine, had suffered a remarkably bad decline in the opinion polls that was nearly as bad as the one that George W. Bush had suffered. Since then, he’s managed to build up a reputation for legislative success notwithstanding a Democratic legislature and a public image as a “straight talker” that, as much as it rubs the people in the Acela Corridor the wrong way could arguably play very well out on the Presidential campaign hustings. So, as Ambinder says, the pieces of a potentially successful Presidential campaign are all there, the only real questions are whether Christie wants to take on the task and whether he’ll be able to buck the Tea Party wave in his own party on his way to the nomination.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    Yes, he didn’t fight what he knew was a losing fight but that’s the real sin in today’s Republican Party. He refused to fight just to fight.

  2. @Ron Beasley:

    I would’ve included it in the post but it didn’t really fit in to the direction I ended up taking. So, here’s a piece from WaPo’s Aaron Blake on the contrast between Cruz and Christie on that issue.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Fat boy has been to the Jersey Shore.
    He knows you can’t stop a wave…the best you can do is learn to surf.

  4. stonetools says:

    I know Doug is thinking, “Sigh. If there were more Republicans like Christie, then I could give up the pretense of being an “independent” and just be Republican.”
    Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of Republicans like Christie:

    But that’s not how most of the GOP base feels these days.

    Poll after poll in recent years has shown the Republican Party is increasingly uninterested in compromise or political pragmatism. A Pew poll in January showed 55 percent of Republicans wanted principled stands rather than compromise, while just 36 percent preferred compromise.

    It’s why Christie is going to go the way of Guiliani in his Presidential run. He may win in New Hampshire , but he’ll lose Iowa, get creamed in South Carolina, and run out of money in Florida.
    The ONLY thing that might turn the party toward Christie rather than Cruz is a wave election sweeping the Democrats to a majority in the House. Even then, the Republicans might double down on the cra cra. Stay Libertarian, my brother Doug. I doubt Christie will be the rational savior of the GOP.

  5. superdestroyer says:

    I suspect that the Christie of 2016 would end up very much like Romney of 2012. Gov. Christie looks good because the national media is treating him with kid gloves. However, I suspect that if he begins to look like the nominee that the knives will come out and the national media will shred him.

    Maybe everyone should be asking the question about Christie that they should have asked about Romney: Why are you nominating someone who cannot win their own state? I doubt if Christie would win any more states than Romney did in 2012.

    Maybe the real long term conclusion is that whoever the Republicans nominate in 2016 is irrelevant since they will have zero chance of winning. If the Republicans are stupid enough to pass comprehensive immigration reform before then, then the Republicans should go out of business because they will never win another national election.

  6. Argon says:

    Re: Christie and ‘realistic’ governance. Bush II’s work in Texas suggested that he would work cooperatively too.

    Just saying….

  7. C. Clavin says:

    Argon….
    The problem with Bush is that he couldn’t say no to Dick.
    Just sayin’

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Chris Christie, 2020. You heard it here first.

  9. superdestroyer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That makes the assumption that there is still a Republican party in existence in 2020. I doubt if the Republicans are relevant enough by then for the media to even pay attention to. Besides. Why would anyone want to run against the re-election of Hillary Clinton.

  10. Why would anyone that’s the least bit liberal on social issue even consider voting for Christie? He opposed every effort to legalize SSM until he decided to just throw in the towel.

    He vetoed a duly-passed bill which would legalize SSM because he, like every other Republican out there, moved the goalposts on legalizing SSM since the vox populi claim around to supporting it.

    For years, the GOP has said, “Oh, we don’t think courts should be involved with SSM, the legislature should deal with it.” Now that there are majorities in legislatures that support legalizing SSM, the GOP governors, for example in Hawaii and New Jersey, have moved the goalposts to demanding a popular referendum on the issue.

    It’s ridiculous and more and more people are starting to see how full of shit the GOP is.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    As a Hillary supporter I do fear Christie a bit. I’d of course much rather have Ted Cruz or one of his ilk. But the good thing about Christie is that he can’t remain the guy he is and get elected nationally. Why? Because abrasive has an initial appeal which wanes over time. The novelty wears off. I’m certainly not dismissing him, but he’ll get beat up pretty bad in the primaries while Hillary will waltz in.

    If I were a Democratic strategist I’d push Christie every chance I got. You want to put a target on the guy to attract GOP fire. You want to start floating the “T” word: Temperament. That primes the pump for when Christie inevitably starts snapping at the hounds.

  12. Mike S says:

    re: politics of 2016, it’s actually not that hard.

    GOP message for 2014: “Told you so!”
    GOP message for 2016: “Told you so!”
    GOP message for 2018: “Told you so!”
    GOP message for 2020: “Told you so!”

    See, not hard.

    They can sprinkle these immortal words as well, to change it up a bit:

    ‘If you like you plan you can keep it!”

    ‘We have to pass it to find out what’s in it!”

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Mike S:

    You figure they’ll win by focusing on the past and on a retired president? Yeah, that’ll work.

  14. An Interested Party says:

    As a Hillary supporter I do fear Christie a bit.

    Why? We could see a repeat of 2000

  15. Jc says:

    He knows he has to be more moderate to win 2016. He is a threat to Hillary because he is more likable. I don’t think Hillary has that likability, unfortunately. What would be good is those two in a debate. Christie ‘s temper has to be put in check. Most guys don’t like to see a man yelling at a woman and definitely most women will not like it. Should be interesting

  16. Mikey says:
  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mike S:

    GOP message for 2014: “Told you so!”
    GOP message for 2016: “Told you so!”
    GOP message for 2018: “Told you so!”
    GOP message for 2020: “Told you so!”

    That definitely works for the GOP. For decades I have been showing them how disastrous their policies are and they just keep doing the same things over and over again. Telling them so never works.

  18. Rob in CT says:

    @Mike S:

    If that’s their plan, I’m not too worried.

  19. Ben says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I just can’t support Hillary. She voted for the Iraq war, she voted for the Patriot Act, she voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act in 2006, she voted for several Homeland Security goodies. Regardless of what state she calls home now, she votes like a tough-on-crime hawkish southern Democrat. I’m kinda all set with that.

    This is not to say that I would vote for Christie over Hillary. I very well may sit that one out if they are the nominees. But it saddens me that Hillary is basically the presumptive nominee at this point. I really hope we get someone good to challenge her in the primary.

  20. fred says:

    GOP is a mess. Now most republicans say they are independents and they all hate polls. Really funny and a sad bunch of people who are on the right of our political spectrum.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @Ben:

    I think that’s foolish. Hillary will be with you on 90% of issues. It’s a Tea Party mentality that rejects anyone who isn’t 100%. We should not be following that example.

  22. stonetools says:

    @Ben:

    No disrespect, but this is why liberals can’t have nice things. We saw this movie back in 2000.
    ” I can’t vote for Gore. He’s just a triangulating, Third Way, Liberal in name only. He’s no different than Bush really. I’ll sit this one out or cast a protest vote for Nader. That’ll teach the Democratic establishment:”
    No conservative ever makes that mistake. Faced with a choice between a Democrat and a Republican, they vote for the Republican and work on moving him to the right. Us liberals need to wake the fvck up and learn to do the same. Its a long game, not a one off.
    Hilary on her worst day would be a better President for liberals and for the country than Christie on his best. She’ll pick the next two or three Supreme Court justices. She’ll appoint the next Attorney General who will be tasked with enforcing Civil Rights Law and Voting Rights Law. She’ll be vigorous about implementing the ACA and might even take steps toward moving to single payer. She’ll oversee agencies like the EPA and the NLRB which are generally non-operational during Republican Administrations.
    ON FP, she may be more interventionist than Obama- but less than any Republican President . So fully supporting Hillary should be a no brainer for any intelligent liberal.
    Now , would I prefer a more liberal candidate. Sure. I’m a fan of Martin O’Malley and if he gains traction, I’ll pull for him. But I don’t lose sight of the long game. In the long game, you elect Democrats and vote out Republicans. Every time. And you move the country slowly toward sanity.

  23. C. Clavin says:

    What stonetools said about SCOTUS, the ACA, etc.
    Times 10.
    Especially with Ginsberg making noise about not retiring…and looking at the age of some others.
    The next 4-10 years can be critical.
    Cliche-time…it’s a marathon…not a sprint.

  24. Rob in CT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Right. Don’t get me wrong, like Ben I’m not happy with Hillary, particularly for her unrepentant pro-Iraq war stance.

    But I’ll vote for her in 2016 if she’s the nominee. I would have voted for her in 2008 if she had been the nominee, though I voted for O in the primary.

    I say this confidently, because as presently constructed there is no way the GOP will produce candidates & a platform I can vote for. [3rd party protest vote is possible assuming Hillary has a massive lead in CT, which she almost certainly will].

    Stonetools bit about liberals voting D and then trying to yank that D to the left makes a lot of sense. You can see Conservatives do this and succeed and you can see Conservatives choose an alternative path (primary the RINO!) and lose. It’s been nicely illustrated of late.

  25. rudderpedals says:

    What Rob in CT said. A nominee far more liberal would be my personal preference. Yet I’ll vote for Hillary if she’s the nominee. I mean come on, it’d have to be a really pathetic nominee to pull for other than one of the Dems. I’ll forget her vote for cloture on BAPCPA and a few other things and move on.

  26. Mikey says:

    @stonetools:

    ” I can’t vote for Gore. He’s just a triangulating, Third Way, Liberal in name only. He’s no different than Bush really. I’ll sit this one out or cast a protest vote for Nader. That’ll teach the Democratic establishment:”
    No conservative ever makes that mistake.

    They certainly do. The Republicans have the exact same discussions. I know several who refused to vote for Romney because he was “insufficiently conservative,” while others tried to convince them “he’s with us 90%, that’s far better than Obama.” Those in favor of voting for Romney despite his perceived imperfections even used some of the same arguments you do in favor of Hillary, they just came to them from the right–“Romney will appoint conservative Justices, Romney will appoint the next Attorney General, Romney won’t push to implement Obamacare” etc.

  27. Mike S says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Worked for Obama. Remember Bush.

    Look, believe whatever you want. I’d be far more worried about the ACA than anything else at this point. It has been nothing short of a f@ck!ng disaster! You can’t spin that. It really is unbelievable how much they have managed to f&ck this up and I say that in all seriousness. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think this law was a good idea and I didn’t think it would work. But I never, in my wildest nightmares, would have imagined what’s happening now. And, astonishingly enough, it keeps getting worse…just when you thought you hit another low, bam no sir, you’ve reached another one. If I were a liberal who sincerely believed in the big government = compassionate government, etc, I would be positively fuming right now. But I’m not. I’m mostly shaking my head in utter disbelief.

    But I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever for this administration and its supporters. Their hubris and arrogance over the last few years has been astonishing, especially as it relates to this law and to its detractors and critics. So you reap what you sow. This is their monster, let them live with the consequences. If the GOP were smart (admittedly a stretch) they would simply get out of the f@ck!ng way and let it implode all by itself.

  28. Nightrider says:

    Christie may well just be positioning himself as the favorite of the moderate GOP wing so he can raise a lot of money and gain influence and feel more important, even though he knows he can’t win the nomination. You don’t have to actually win or even run to receive benefits from people thinking that you are a candidate for President. See Sarah Palin.

  29. stonetools says:

    @Mikey:

    They certainly do. The Republicans have the exact same discussions. I know several who refused to vote for Romney because he was “insufficiently conservative,” while others tried to convince them “he’s with us 90%, that’s far better than Obama.”

    I stand corrected. I haven’t met any conservatives like that. I think most conservatives fell in line behind Romney and voted for him last election. I’ve never heard of conservatives throwing an election to a liberal Democrat by casting a symbolic vote for a third party candidate. I don’t think that happens .

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @Mike S:
    And your alternative fix for health care?

    Your party has nothing. In fact, the last thing they had was RomneyCare which is to say ObamaCare.

    Right now, because of the law, a bunch of older kids have health insurance on their parent’s policy. Is your solution to cancel that insurance? Right now people with pre-existing conditions are getting coverage. Is your solution to yank that coverage away? Right now a bunch of working poor families are getting Medicaid. You’re taking that away?

    You can’t beat something with nothing. And nothing is all you’ve got. Not just on health care, but on immigration, on entitlement reform: nothing. And now you’re still hung up on a single law from a president who will soon be in the rearview mirror, and since you have nothing else, you can’t see any plan for the future that isn’t just about the past.

  31. David M says:

    @Mike S:

    The only parts of the law having problems right now are the federal exchange and the incomplete Medicaid expansion. The GOP doesn’t get to escape blame for either of those two, so I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to gloat.

  32. stonetools says:

    @Mike S:

    Look, believe whatever you want. I’d be far more worried about the ACA than anything else at this point. It has been nothing short of a f@ck!ng disaster! You can’t spin that. It really is unbelievable how much they have managed to f&ck this up and I say that in all seriousness. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think this law was a good idea and I didn’t think it would work. But I never, in my wildest nightmares, would have imagined what’s happening now

    I think that word “disaster” has been overused. It should reserved to events where there has been loss of human life. Pearl Harbor was a disaster. 911 was a disaster. The Black Death was a disaster. The Obamacare roll out-meh. Its certainly a major problem , but it’s solvable. Throw enough engineers and resources at the problem , and it will be solved. It will probably take four to six weeks, the liberals will despair, the Republicans will exult, the press will emote-then it will be fixed and things will proceed.
    I remember the Deepwater mine explosion back in 2010-which really was a disaster by my definition. Closing off the gusher was a complex engineering problem that frankly, did look insoluble at one point-indeed several attempts to close the gusher failed. The press went berserk. They kept on hounding the President about how he could have let it happened and why couldn’t he do more to fix it. Why wasn’t he taking names and kicking asses. People mused that it was the “end of the Obama Presidency”. And then the engineers fixed it and then nothing. Within days, everyone -at least outside the region-had moved on.
    I bet the same thing will happen with Obamacare. There are plenty of examples of major software roll-outs that were proclaimed “disasters” – but then the coders fixed things and life moved on.

  33. Mike S says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Your party has nothing. In fact, the last thing they had was RomneyCare which is to say ObamaCare.”

    If things keep going the way they’re going, I suspect even the “nothing” will seem more palatable…but we’ll see how that plays out.

    It’s not my party. In order to belong to either of the two parties, you would need to sacrifice intellectual honesty, at the very least. There’s dumb and dumber. Who is who alternates…

    “Right now, because of the law, a bunch of older kids have health insurance on their parent’s policy. Is your solution to cancel that insurance? Right now people with pre-existing conditions are getting coverage. Is your solution to yank that coverage away? Right now a bunch of working poor families are getting Medicaid. You’re taking that away?”

    I want to take it away. Right. And you wanna pay for it by footing the bill to your kids and grandkids. Big man.

    Right now, you are in no position really to judge what the law will or will not do in reality. All you have is what it is supposed to do. And that’s not even beginning to take into account unintended consequences. Good luck with that. If it implodes by the weight of its own inconsistencies, contradictions and really incompetence by those charged with implementing it, who’s taking it away then. But nice try. Posturing, self-righteousness, emotions that’s all you got right? Just look up “death spiral:, have fun with that, and that’s assuming they get past Glitzapalooza any time soon…

    You can’t beat something with nothing. And nothing is all you’ve got. Not just on health care, but on immigration, on entitlement reform: nothing.

    Actually, that’s not true in virtually all the topics you brought up, but I suspect you consider “nothing” everything and anything that you disagree with. So, whatever…

    And now you’re still hung up on a single law from a president who will soon be in the rearview mirror, and since you have nothing else, you can’t see any plan for the future that isn’t just about the past.

    I’m not hung up on it. But you see, the American people, the electorate, they’re the ones who are about to experience the ACA in all its glory. I’ve known what to expect, although not nearly at this staggering level. The electorate, well, they’ve been sold something that may not exactly correspond to what they thought they were gonna get. And that, THAT is gonna be YOUR problem.

  34. Mike S says:

    Messed up the b-quotes. Sorry.

  35. David M says:

    @Mike S:

    Obamacare isn’t just the federal exchanges, it’s much, much more. Millions of people are already benefiting from it, and those shouldn’t be ignored while discussing whether the law is working or not.

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Mike S:

    You’ve confused problems with the website with problems with the law. One is not the other.

    As for making my children foot the bill, that’s very funny. I pay a 50% tax rate between fed and state. I collect nothing in direct subsidy or payments.

    And spare me the pretense of pretending not to be GOP. If it looks like a Fox News talking point, and acts like a Fox News talking point, and talks like a Fox News talking point, it’s a Republican.

  37. David M says:

    As a reminder, even with the current federal exchange difficulties, here’s where things stand:

    1. Older people: better off after Medicare reforms in Obamacare
    2. Poor people: better off after Medicaid expansion in Obamacare
    3. Poor people in non-Medicaid expansion states: F**ked over by the GOP
    4. People with employer provided insurance: no significant change, although better off if they leave their job
    5. People in the individual market: combination of better off and not better off yet
    6. People voluntarily going without insurance: Better off or no longer able to free ride

    For some insane reason, the GOP thinks “not better off yet” means things should be changed so no one is better off ever.

  38. Mike S says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You’ve confused problems with the website with problems with the law. One is not the other.

    Yeah, you might be the one who’s confused there Mikey. Why doncha check out the latest talking points from the White House…after all, if they say something it must be true. Isn’t that what Obama was trying to spin yesterday or the day before? Sorry, can’t keep up, it keeps changing all the time…shocking I know!

    As for making my children foot the bill, that’s very funny. I pay a 50% tax rate between fed and state. I collect nothing in direct subsidy or payments.

    I meant Generation Baby Boom f@ck!ng the next two generations at least…but good for you though!

    And spare me the pretense of pretending not to be GOP. If it looks like a Fox News talking point, and acts like a Fox News talking point, and talks like a Fox News talking point, it’s a Republican.

    Sure, whatever man. lol Whatever makes you feel better…Staring at this train wreck, I don’t blame you…

  39. Rob in CT says:

    just when you thought you hit another low, bam no sir, you’ve reached another one

    Because in the Conservative media bubble, it’s been nothing but bad news.

    For those of us not inside that bubble, the news is decidedly mixed. The federal website looks like a clusterf*ck. State exchanges (the states that didn’t try to nullify the law, see) appear to work pretty well. The premium situation looks ok. People are signing up, though the federal website problems are a hinderance.

    So, while I and other liberals are annoyed at the folks in charge of setting up the website, it’s hardly DEFCON1 panic.

    To put this another way, Mike S: prepare to be disappointed (when the Obamacarepocalypse does not actually occur).

  40. David M says:

    @Mike S:

    Do you mind expanding on which parts of Obamacare are a train wreck, and why that shows problems for the overall law that can’t be fixed? You seem fairly confident everything is a disaster, so this should be pretty easy.

  41. C. Clavin says:

    Haters like Mike S. won’t like reading this about the most popular Government program in US history…

    “…Nancy Altman, co-director of advocacy group Social Security Works, wrote in her 2005 book The Battle for Social Security; “They had no computers, and no precedent for creating such a system. Board Chairman Arthur Altmeyer brought in management expert Harry Hoff, who studied the problem for months before delivering the sad news that it would not be possible…he recommended that the board notify Congress that the government could not run the Social Security program, after all.
    Meanwhile, Alf Landon, the Republican nominee for president in 1936, that year called the program a “cruel hoax” and a “fraud on the workingman” that could never live up to its own promises
    …”

    Anyone remember Alf Landon? Wasn’t he on a 90’s sitcom about Aliens and cats?

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @Mike S:

    Has nothing to do with making me feel better. Of course the website is an unholy screw-up that will take a long time to fix.

    Which still leaves you with nothing. Not even your pretense of objectivity. Obama is not running for -re-election, and the longer you people stay fixated on your Obama-hatred the better for us.

  43. Grewgills says:

    @Timothy Watson:
    When we had a Republican governor in Hawaii, she did veto a civil union (not marriage) bill. Unfortunately it was the Democratic legislature and people of Hawaii that derailed earlier attempts at legalizing gay marriage. This was largely because of a successful ad campaign claiming it would kill tourism dollars.
    We are now on track to legalize gay marriage, probably early next year.

  44. george says:

    @Mike S:

    I’m not hung up on it. But you see, the American people, the electorate, they’re the ones who are about to experience the ACA in all its glory. I’ve known what to expect, although not nearly at this staggering level. The electorate, well, they’ve been sold something that may not exactly correspond to what they thought they were gonna get. And that, THAT is gonna be YOUR problem.

    I kind of agree, if you mean many will complain they didn’t go for a public health option in addition to private (like German and France have).

    But I’m more stuck on your “American people”. When did they become a monolithic entity that speaks with a single voice? So far (meaning the last two and a bit centuries) they’ve been extremely diverse in their opinions and desires.

  45. David M says:

    I believe a common target for the exchange enrollment is 7 million for the first year. Given that a good amount (40%?) of that enrollment will occur in the state based exchanges that are up and running already, that means the federal exchange delays probably affect 4.2 million people. Why is this delay that will likely be resolved more important than the lack of Medicaid expansion that will affect 5 million people?

  46. stonetools says:

    @Mike S:

    Picking through Mike S’ word salad, I missed where he set out a better alternative to the ACA. So someone who has no effing idea of how he would institute universal health insurance is mad that there are problems with bringing universal heath insurance to poor and uninsured.
    I’m sick and tired of the right wingers who pretend that they really are interested in providing health insurance to the non-insured, but just dislike the ACA. The right wingers have had four years to come up with a better alternative and they have come up with nothing that would pass the laugh test. I would prefer that they dispense with the hypocrisy and just say bluntly that they don’t care about providing health care to the poor and uninsured. Own it, embrace it, defend that position if you can , but for FSM’s sake stop pretending that you are interested in a solution. Seriously, nobody believes that nonsense anymore.

  47. Tony W says:

    @stonetools:

    for FSM’s sake

    May his noodly appendage touch you…..

  48. Moosebreath says:

    @Tony W:

    “May his noodly appendage touch you…..”

    R’amen!

  49. Ben says:

    @michael reynolds:

    @stonetools:

    I think that’s foolish. Hillary will be with you on 90% of issues. It’s a Tea Party mentality that rejects anyone who isn’t 100%. We should not be following that example.

    You seem to be assuming I’m a democrat. I’m not. And on the issues that actually matter to me, I find her views repugnant. The only issues we probably somewhat agree on are abortion, health care and maybe taxes.

  50. Ben says:

    @stonetools:

    No disrespect, but this is why liberals can’t have nice things. We saw this movie back in 2000.
    ” I can’t vote for Gore. He’s just a triangulating, Third Way, Liberal in name only. He’s no different than Bush really. I’ll sit this one out or cast a protest vote for Nader. That’ll teach the Democratic establishment:”
    No conservative ever makes that mistake. Faced with a choice between a Democrat and a Republican, they vote for the Republican and work on moving him to the right. Us liberals need to wake the fvck up and learn to do the same. Its a long game, not a one off.
    Hilary on her worst day would be a better President for liberals and for the country than Christie on his best. She’ll pick the next two or three Supreme Court justices. She’ll appoint the next Attorney General who will be tasked with enforcing Civil Rights Law and Voting Rights Law. She’ll be vigorous about implementing the ACA and might even take steps toward moving to single payer. She’ll oversee agencies like the EPA and the NLRB which are generally non-operational during Republican Administrations.
    ON FP, she may be more interventionist than Obama- but less than any Republican President . So fully supporting Hillary should be a no brainer for any intelligent liberal.
    Now , would I prefer a more liberal candidate. Sure. I’m a fan of Martin O’Malley and if he gains traction, I’ll pull for him. But I don’t lose sight of the long game. In the long game, you elect Democrats and vote out Republicans. Every time. And you move the country slowly toward sanity.

    You are making a whole hell of a lot of assumptions about what issues are actually important to me. I may technically be a liberal, but most certainly do not ascribe the same relative importance to most of those issues as your standard issue registered Democrat. I don’t WANT Hillary to pick the next attorney general. I find her awful on criminal justice and homeland security.

  51. Rob in CT says:

    @Ben:

    Fair enough. I view those issues (tax, abortion, etc) as pretty important, but if you find that other things trump, that’s your call. I might even agree. Of course, the GOP nominee will likely be as bad or worse on all such topics. So, if you live in a swing state, you face an unfortunate choice. If, like me, you live in a state that’s safe one way or the other, then you don’t.

  52. C. Clavin says:

    “…I find her views repugnant…”

    Yesterday James found McAuliffe repugnant.
    I suggest y’all work on being less emotional and more rational.

  53. michael reynolds says:

    It’s fun to play independent, it sounds so cool and detached and above-it-all. But the reality is that in a two party system you’re either Red or Blue. You may not want to be, but you are. Vote this way or that, or don’t vote at all, it doesn’t change the reality that you’re helping one side and hurting the other. Would that it were not so, but there’s wishes and then there’s reality.

  54. Ben says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I obviously understand that. But if neither party ends up nominating a candidate that shares my views on issues that are important to me, that puts me in a real shitty spot. And Hillary is terrible on those issues. And so is (insert republican nominee here). I understand that, and it sucks. Which is why I really hope there’s another serious primary challenger to Hillary, who actually gets me interested in the 2016 election.

    And before you tell me that I’m a naive idiot who will never find a major party candidate who represents my views, my US Rep (Cicciline) actually agrees with me on most of these issues and I am an enthusiastic supporter of his. My senators both suck.

  55. David M says:

    @Ben:

    The other way to look at it is that you’re not voting for a candidate, you’re voting for a letter. D or R. (For general elections, primaries are different)

    The actual differences between a Clinton D and your preferred D presidency will be minimal, while the differences between any D and any R presidency will be much larger.

  56. Ben says:

    @David M:

    On the issues I actually care about, the differences between a preferred D and Hillary are much larger than the differences between Hillary and, say, Christie. Especially when you take into account the things a president has actual, direct control over.

    @Rob in CT:

    Except that the president has no real power over abortion (or taxes for that matter). Yes, the president submits a budget, but Congress is under no obligation to pass ( or even vote on ) it. They can pass whatever the hell they want.

    The things the president has real, direct power over (war/defense, criminal justice/civil liberties/homeland security/NSA/FBI stuff), Hillary is not good, or even slightly liberal.

  57. stonetools says:

    @Ben:

    Even if Hilary is an out and out warmongerer, she still appoints Supreme Court justices. That alone is a reason for supporting Hillary over ANY Republican. There are just a whole host of issues out there other than your pet issues, and they affect millions of Americans. The bottom line is that it’s not just about you and your litmus tests.
    I have some sympathy for you in that I hope the Democrats pick someone more liberal on issues that I find important, like civil rights and fiscal stimulus(Yes, I have my pet issues too). Yet if my fellow Democrats go against my wishes and pick Hillary, then it should be all hands on deck for Hillary.
    The military metaphor is apt here. Like it or not, politics has become sort of a war for the soul of America. If the Republicans win the Presidency they’re going to blight the lives of millions of Americans, most of them poorer ands less educated than you and me. You have to think about that and not just your issues.

  58. An Interested Party says:

    I don’t WANT Hillary to pick the next attorney general.

    Perhaps you would prefer Chris Christie or Jeb Bush to pick the next attorney general…

  59. Ben says:

    Both of your points is exactly why I said that I wouldn’t vote for Christie either, and why my main hope is that there is another primary candidate that is better on civil liberties, criminal justice, surveillance and war, or that it at least forces Hillary further left on those issues.

    And you don’t get to tell me that there are more important issues, every voter gets to make that decision. And again, I will repeat that the president has very little real power when it comes to fiscal and tax policy.

    Don’t worry anyways, I don’t live in a swing state, so whether I vote for the Dem or sit home won’t affect anything. But I can’t in good conscience vote for someone who so fundamentally opposes me on these issues.

  60. I wish people would stand up to gay marriage. It clearly says in the bible that homosexuality is a sin. This world will never become a better place when we go against God.

  61. Rob in CT says:

    Except that the president has no real power over abortion

    You have to be joking.

    SCOTUS!