Reports Of Hillary Clinton’s Impending Political Demise Are Mostly Just Wishful Thinking

Even with a recent negative downturn in the polls, the reports of Hillary Clinton's impending political demise are largely wishful thinking on the part of conservatives.

Hillary Clinton Holds Campaign Roundtable In Las Vegas

Megan McArdle contends that Hillary Clinton has nowhere to go but downhill:

I do think that Fred Barnes is right that as the polls narrow, we can expect to see some panic from the Democrats. By allowing Clinton to take the lion’s share of the fundraising dollars and the media attention, the party has left itself without a plausible alternative candidate. That seemed dandy as long as she was easily trouncing Republicans in polls. But those polls were always going to narrow, because the early polls were basically measuring whether people recognized the candidate’s name, not whether they were going to vote for her more than a year hence. As the GOP race sorts out, and the front-runners achieve more public awareness, you’re going to see our highly partisan electorate lock into much narrower margins.

Moreover, Clinton will have less room to improve her margins than whoever the Republican is. The Clintons have been around for a long time, which is a help in many ways — great name recognition, a beloved politician who can campaign for her, the ability to promise that the boom times under her husband will come back if only we give her our vote. But it also means that the public’s ideas about Clinton are pretty well fixed. A scandal can drive them down, but they are not going to suddenly soar as the public finds her surprisingly more likable than they expected.

When Democratic voters and pundits start to suspect that this race is not, in fact, going to be the easy walk they were expecting, they will probably start to look harder at alternatives. Realistically, so far what they’ve got is … Martin O’Malley, whose signature achievement as governor was hashing his state’s Obamacare exchange so thoroughly that it had to be scrapped and replaced – along with his hand-chosen successor, who lost to a Republican in a very blue state.

Dave Schuler disagrees:

Quite the opposite of the “nowhere to go” view, I think that Sec. Clinton’s favorability and unfavorability ratings have both floors and ceilings. I would also happily bet a shiny new dime that at no time between now and November 2016 will Hillary Clinton’s favorability rating go over 60% or under 35%. If you gave me odds, I might be willing to tighten those margins a bit (but just a bit).

I tend to think that Dave is correct here, and that McArdle is displaying some of the same wishful thinking about the prospects of an opponent that you typically see from partisan pundits. Most recently, we have seen evidence that Clinton’s favorability numbers are hitting some of their lowest levels ever, which is likely a result of coverage we’ve seen over the past several months of both the scandal involving her use of a private e-mail server and the issues surrounding donations to the Clinton Foundation during the time she was Secretary of State. At the same time, though, we haven’t seen much evidence in polls taken in the wake of either story hitting the news that would indicate that Clinton is going to be permanently damaged by any of this to the extent that it will hurt her in either the Primaries or the General Election. On the first point, McArdle is simply grasping at straws with the idea that there is any challenger out there who has the ability to to take on Clinton the way they President Obama did eight years ago. Additionally, a new Fox News Poll shows that the vast majority of likely Democratic primary voters don’t particularly care about the stories currently in the news. Is there some possibility that Clinton’s campaign could implode, or that some health issue could arise that would derail her campaign? Yes, ether of those things is possible it’s just that neither one of them is very likely to happen for two very good reasons.

First of all, there’s the simple fact that there are at this point very few people who have an ambiguous opinion about Hillary Clinton. She has been a political figure ever since her husband became a candidate for President in late 1991, perhaps most memorably when she was at his side when he appeared on 60 Minutes in January 1992 to answer questions about the Genifer Flowers scandal. She was there when he became President and quickly became a political target all her own when she headed up a health insurance reform program that ended up being dubbed “Hillarycare.” She was there for the Lewinsky scandal to blame the entire controversy on a “vast right wing conspiracy.” And then she stepped out on her own as a Senator, Presidential candidate, and Secretary of State. To a large degree, whatever opinions people have about her are already set in stone and unlikely to change. If you hate her, you really hate her and if you like her, then it’s likely the case that all of the “scandal” stories don’t matter to you. What all of that suggests is that negative campaigning against Hillary Clinton isn’t likely to be nearly as effective as some Republicans might like to think. This isn’t to say that Clinton cannot be beaten, of course, but the fact that there are very few people who don’t know who Clinton is or have an opinion about her is fairly small and that the negative stories that McArdle refers to aren’t likely to have as big an impact as she might think.

The second factor that undermines McArdle’s ‘nowhere to go but downhill’ argument, is the fact that Clinton has advantages heading into the General Election that will be hard for any Republican to counteract. As I’ve said before, the fact that she will be the first female Presidential nominee of a major political party is something that should not be discounted. It will be seen by many people to be as historic as Barack Obama’s candidacy was in 2008 and that is likely to ensure that many of the people who will be inclined to vote for her  will be enthusiastic voters. Of course, there will also be some group of voters on the Republican side of the aisle who will be enthusiastic about voting against her, but I suspect the first group will be larger than the second. Additionally, Clinton will enter the General Election race with a significant cushion in the Electoral College. Theoretically, she could lose Florida, Ohio, and Virginia from among the states that Obama won in 2012 and still win the election. A Republican, meanwhile, would need to win all three of those states, plus those that Romney won, and one more just to get barely over the hump of 270 Electoral votes. Given these factors, and the fact that the Republican Party continues to have problems with the national electorate notwithstanding the results of the mid-term elections, putting the mark of doom on Clinton’s campaign as McArdle seems to be doing is foolishly premature to say the least.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, Public Opinion Polls, 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. C. Clavin says:

    Megan McArdle…famous for her enthusiastic support of invading and occupying Iraq and laughing when someone predicted it would cost trillions and take years….yet in spite of being wrong about so much so often she remains a shining light in the Conservative Entertainment Complex.

    Far more interesting political news…Ted Cruz, 2nd Amendment champion…makes passing a background check a requirement to go shooting with him.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/ted-cruz-background-check-shooting-contest

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Yeah, Megan McCardle is an idiot. This is not news.

    What’s so interesting here is the dog that didn’t bark: where are the Republican claims that they will prevail on the issues? We’re what, 17 months out, and Republicans’s only issues are screwing over gays and Mexicans while pining for the good old days in Baghdad? Jesus, no wonder McCardle is fantasizing.

    Scott Walker calls for a constitutional amendment to return gays to second-class status and he thinks he’s going to win by trashing Mrs. Clinton?

    Republicans really have lost their minds.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    I do think that Fred Barnes is right

    Didn’t she blow her whole argument right there?

    I used to watch “The Beltway Boys” with some regularity. Truth is hard to see. Certainty is hard to come by. But if Barnes and Kondracke said a thing was true, you could be sure it was false. If they said A would happen, you could confidently expect the opposite of A.

  4. TheoNott says:

    McArdle is correct that as the race progresses, you will see polls start to come closer to the basic partisan breakdown of the nation… but if so, that’s very bad news for Republicans. While it means Clinton has a ceiling, it means she has a floor, too, and that floor is probably higher than 50 percent. There are precious few voters who are genuinely persuadable nowadays, and the Democrats simply have the bigger team. This means that all the predictive tools that suggest the GOP has a chance, (e.g. the same party hardly ever wins three in a row) need to be thrown out, because they are based on data from an era where there were far more genuine swing voters. On the other hand, if you believe that most voters nowadays have fixed partisan allegiances, you can estimate the next election result pretty easily just by taking the results of the last election and adjust for new 18 years olds, deaths, and immigration. What that model suggests is that Clinton will exceed Obama’s 2012 margin. The GOP’s only hope is win through turnout, but it seems like Clinton has been doing a great job exciting the liberal base (just look at all her issue positions so far, she’s hardly running as a moderate).

  5. Kylopod says:

    Despite putting on a veneer of moderation and respectability, McArdle has a track record of right-wing hack bad predictions to make Bill Kristol and Dick Morris blush. I noticed that she favorably cites Fred Barnes, who himself has the distinction of having memorably declared in Jan. 2010, “The health care bill, ObamaCare, is dead with not the slightest prospect of resurrection.”

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @TheoNott: I fear Larry Bartels is close to right, the fundamentals come down to length of time the party has held the WH and GDP growth the two quarters before the election. (Quibbles, he’s talking popular vote, not Electoral; and he leaves like 4% unexplained, which is a big margin in recent elections.) After three terms of Dems, and if the economy slows, Hillary will be vulnerable in ’20. Jeb would have been smarter to wait.

    @michael reynolds:

    …where are the Republican claims that they will prevail on the issues?

    Issues? They don’t need no steenking issues. Never had them before.

  7. charon says:

    @TheoNott:
    ” … On the other hand, if you believe that most voters nowadays have fixed partisan allegiances, you can estimate the next election result pretty easily just by taking the results of the last election and adjust for new 18 years olds, deaths, and immigration. … ”

    It is even worse for the GOP than your model predicts, as the GOP relies on social conservatism, but many individual voters, according to the recent Pew survey, are becoming less socially conservative.

  8. Hal_10000 says:

    *Anything* 17 months before an election is wishful thinking: either pro- or con-Hillary.

    Clinton will enter the General Election race with a significant cushion in the Electoral College. Theoretically, she could lose Florida, Ohio, and Virginia from among the states that Obama won in 2012 and still win the election. A Republican, meanwhile, would need to win all three of those states, plus those that Romney won, and one more just to get barely over the hump of 270 Electoral votes.

    Ah yes, this Democrat talking point. Nate Silver recently pricked this particular gonfalon bubble. He points out that if Romney had won the election by the same margin as Obama, he would have a similar electoral margin. There is a blue wall of states that Democrats can rely on but there in an equally strong red wall for Republicans. It’s more of a floor in the event of a double digit popular vote landslide. If the Republican candidate wins a majority of the popular vote, 95% chance he’ll win the electoral as well.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    Given McArdle’s abilities with mathematics, I wouldn’t trust this woman to estimate a tip on a $10 lunch plate.

    Also don’t forget we’re undoubtedly going to have some doofus on the Republican side make some sexist cracks about not voting for Hillary because of her having PMS. (Thus showing his lack of knowledge of hormone levels as well as his lack of knowledge of female biology.)

    Expect a lot of comments made on the right about Hillary that will tick off a lot of women and make them determined to vote for her.

  10. charon says:

    @Hal_10000:

    http://goplifer.com/2015/05/30/nate-silver-and-the-blue-wall/

    Nate Silver recently pricked this particular gonfalon bubble. He points out that if Romney had won the election by the same margin as Obama, he would have a similar electoral margin. There is a blue wall of states that Democrats can rely on but there in an equally strong red wall for Republicans.

    Pretty solid counterargument at my link above.

  11. Tyrell says:

    I would be careful what I wished for. Warren and O’Malley might draw in a lot of independent voters and actually do better against any of the Republicans.

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    Brought to you by the sane people who were convinced that Romney would win.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Ron Beasley: Hey, he got 47%. There is a God, and she has a wicked sense of humor.

  14. C. Clavin says:

    @Hal_10000:
    And if not…there is always the Roberts Court.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @charon:
    Thanks for that link. Interesting.

    I tend to agree that Nate is just wrong on this, blinded by numbers and missing the geography. A politician can’t run in all 50 states, he/she has to target vulnerable places. Where are the Democrat’s possible vulnerabilities? Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Florida. That’s 69 EVs. In 2012 Mr. Obama won with 332. 332-69=263, just 7 short of victory.

    Republicans need to run the table. Democrats only need to hold onto Colorado. Or Ohio. Or Virginia. Or Florida. They need 4 out of 4, we only need 1 out of 4. Polling even during the worst of the media assault on Ms. Clinton had her winning in. . . North Carolina, which Mr. Obama took in 2008 and lost in 2012.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done, but calling this 50/50 is absurd.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    With 17 months until the election, wouldn’t it be far more interesting to discuss where politicians stand on issues, rather than polling and tea leaf reading?
    This past week Clinton laid out a plan for a National Standard for expanding access to the ballot box…leaving Republicans in a position of explaining why they want to make voting harder….and yet bubkis on OTB.
    McArdle is wrong about everything. Why waste the bandwidth?

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I agree. As much as I love the horse race and the gamesmanship, shouldn’t we occasionally dip into actual policy?

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: There really are people who don’t know their own minds. There really are people who lie to pollsters. But independent voters are a myth. It’s a fight for turnout.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    FYI – On Sunday she also signed onto a $15 minimum wage…which is part and parcel of her inequality message…a message that puts her in direct opposition to all of the Republicans…and a message which Doug dismisses here;
    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-politics-of-income-inequality/
    Doug also completely missed this message in the Occupy Movement…which he saw as little more than an excuse to play hackey-sack and to sit in drum circles.
    So I guess that explains the McArdle fixation…birds of a feather, etc.

  20. Guarneri says:

    I think you guys miss the point. The stronger she is the more likely she’ll beat a,say, Rubio. The danger to the republics roadways is manifest.

  21. Tillman says:

    @Guarneri: “Vote Rubio — Or I’ll Drive Close to Where You Live!” 🙂

  22. Modulo Myself says:

    Here’s Peter Schweizer, the guy who wrote book which has the goods that will sink and destroy Hillary Clinton:

    During a May 4 appearance on The Dana Show, Loesch told Schweizer “there is always that concern for anyone who goes up against the Clinton machine that they could be Vince Fostered” and asked if he considered that possibility when “getting himself security.” Schweizer replied: “Yeah, I mean look — there are security concerns that arise in these kinds of situations.”

    Schweizer added that the security decision was made by his group, the Government Accountability Institute, and the “reality is we’ve touched on a major nerve within the Clinton camp. They are very, very upset, and they are pulling out all the stops to attack me in an effort to kill this book off.”

    No one notices, because why would they? Conservatives were too busy worrying about the government using Jade Helm 15 to imprison conservative dissidents. There’s no time to defend everybody from the liberal death squads. Priorities.

    Meanwhile, as C. Clavin notes, Hillary Clinton can talk about the minimum wage and voting rights. She doesn’t have to spend time defending her vote on Iraq or saying how cool forced vaginal ultrasounds are. Her base is not repulsive. They aren’t the type of people who call the cops on black kids using a public pool.

    Right now, the only real hope Republicans in the media have is to concern troll the Democrats into thinking that their pragmatic support of Hilllary Clinton has nothing to do with how terrible Republicans are.

  23. C. Clavin says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    there is always that concern for anyone who goes up against the Clinton machine that they could be Vince Fostered

    So any one who goes against the Clinton’s will suffer from depression and commit suicide???

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    If you hate her, you really hate her and if you like her, then it’s likely the case that all of the “scandal” stories don’t matter to you.

    Then there are those of us who don’t like her but know we aren’t voting for our next beer drinking buddy. The GOP has a problem: They hate her with the intense burning of the sun. The rest of us like her or not. With all the independent conservative pacs awash in money out there that the GOP has no control over, we can expect a negative campaign beyond all reason and which I suspect will drive a lot of people otherwise persuadable into her camp out of pure disgust. If not into her camp, out of the voting booth.

  25. Tony W says:

    They hate her with the intense burning of the sun.

    To be honest, I think the backlash from this is Hillary’s best chance at winning. After they were so ridiculous about Obama I became willing to overlook the president’s failure to close Guantanamo, the ACA compromise (we should have done Medicare for all) and his retention of Bush-era tax cuts.

    Republicans may well have pulled Obama to the right, but in doing so they ceded the big tent to the Democrats. Having clearly learned that lesson, they are proceeding to do the same thing to Clinton.

  26. Kylopod says:

    @Tony W:

    After they were so ridiculous about Obama I became willing to overlook the president’s failure to close Guantanamo, the ACA compromise (we should have done Medicare for all) and his retention of Bush-era tax cuts.

    Oh, please. Are we really rehashing this nonsense? Let’s take this step by step:

    1. Obama tried to get Guantanamo closed. One of his first acts upon entering office was an executive ordering to close the camp. You know why it wasn’t closed? Because in 2009, the Democratic-led Senate voted 90-6 to keep it open. But I suppose it’s all Obama’s fault for not using his voodoo powers on all those Senators.

    2. It’s true that Obama didn’t enact single-payer “Medicare for all.” He never campaigned on enacting it, either. Nor did Hillary Clinton. Nor did the more leftish John Edwards. Nor did “progressive” favorite Howard Dean in 2004. Bill Clinton’s 1993 bill wasn’t Medicare for all. No serious Democratic presidential candidate has run on enacting it for over a generation. Why? Because they understand the political realities. If you seriously believe that with all the difficulty Obama had in getting the ACA past the 2009 Congress, he would have had an easier time with Medicare for all, you’re living in a dream world. Even Paul Krugman recognizes this; in his 2007 book he explained that while single-payer was the ideal, something very much like Obamacare (that wasn’t the name he used, of course) was the most progressive reform that had a serious chance of passing if Dems won majorities in 2008.

    3. Obama actually ended Bush’s tax cuts on the wealthy. It’s true that he left the majority of the cuts in place, but remember, ending them all would have required a significant tax increase on middle-class voters. And in the “fiscal cliff” situation they faced at the end of 2012, that was not politically possible. Unless, of course, Obama pulled out the aforementioned voodoo powers. The fact that he didn’t proves how much of a corporate wuss he really is. You’ve convinced me.

  27. stonetools says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think Doug doesn’t really like to discuss policy, since on the issue after issue, it’s pretty clear the the only party that’s serious about policy is the Democrats. (Republican “policy” on every issue ranges from the merely stupid to bigoted to straight out barking mad).
    Taking voting rights for instance. Hillary’s stance on the issue appears to me a big step in the right direction, but I understand that there may be drawbacks to such a plan. Still, rational arguments can be made pro and con.
    The Republican stand on voting rights, OTOH, is straight up racist voter supression, period.They try to sugar coat it with talk of “deterring voter fraud” but such arguments have been so comprehensively debunked that no one outside the right wing fever swamps even bothers to make them any more.
    Doug doesn’t like to admit the Democrats are right on issues, (consider his refusal to give the Democrats any credit on gay rights issues), so he ends up discussing nonpolicy stuff. It’s less cognitive dissonance for him as well since he agrees with Republicans on economic policy,and the conservatives have been proven wrong on every economic policy issue as well.

  28. stonetools says:

    @Kylopod:

    Every thinking liberal out there has an unwritten book in his head on how Obama could have done more to advance the progressive agenda ( I might write mine some day). I think, though, we just have to face the fact that the conservatives just carried a very successful “massive resistance ” canpaign, based on fueling the latent bigotry of white seniors frightened by the economic downturn, and aided by stupendous amounts of money and a right wing propaganda machine unknown since the days of Goebbels. Maybe Obama could have done some things different ( I believe he could have done some things different) but honestly, I don’t know whether he could achieved a better result, given the nature of the oppisition.

  29. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: $15 minimum wage ! The fast food workers around here can tell their teachers that they make almost as much as they
    do !
    OWS movement: at a city near here it was frisbee football and Texas hold ’em poker. Cold weather came, they packed their tents and headed back to school, or their parent’s basement. Leaving behind a big pile of trash and beer bottles for the city to clean up.

  30. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: Yes. The standard for comparison is not Gandhi, George Washington, or some hypothetical perfect liberal. The standard for comparison is John McCain, Mitt Romney, and now Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Marco Rubio. Obama, and Hillary, look pretty good by comparison.

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:

    $15 minimum wage ! The fast food workers around here can tell their teachers that they make almost as much as they
    do !

    So you think fast food workers shouldn’t make a living wage…and we all should continue to subsidize McDonalds…because your county or state insists on underpaying it’s teachers? Now there is some award winning logic!!! Let me guess…you live in a Red State that depends heavily on federal welfare to balance it’s budget?

    OWS movement…Leaving behind a big pile of trash and beer bottles for the city to clean up.

    They also left behind a National discussion on inequity. I know it wasn’t in any of the Andy Griffith shows. Try to keep up, anyway.

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    Leaving behind a big pile of trash and beer bottles for the city to clean up.

    You think that’s bad, you should look at the mess the Tea Party has made of this country! And who do you think is gonna clean it up? The Republicans?

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA……….. gasp…. wheeze…..

    Sometimes I just crack me up.

  33. Kylopod says:

    @stonetools: I totally agree that there are reasonable grounds to criticize Obama from a progressive standpoint, both in terms of ideology and strategy. What I object to is the tendency among some progressives to engage in pure fantasy based on misconceptions about the specific campaign promises Obama actually made and on a complete failure to understand the limitations on a president’s power.

  34. Tony W says:

    @Kylopod: Okay, sure – Obama ‘tried’ to get Guantanamo closed, but reelection and a host of other things were more important. A real leader goes to the mat without regard for his own safety.

    Health care reform – he tried to work with the Republicans and do something bipartisan. Fools errand. There was no direct appeal to the people, there was no Johnson-style arm twisting – he just accepted Romneycare.

    I’ll give you the tax cuts – except that his communication machine is so broken that everyone things they’re paying higher taxes under Obama and few realize that Bush’s wars were on the national credit card.

    Democrats refuse to play hard ball. I don’t understand why somebody would run for office if they are not prepared to use every power of that office to get things done. I criticized Bush for doing that because I didn’t agree with his immoral policies, but I do grudgingly respect that he cared enough to get things done.

    All Obama has really accomplished is cleaning up the frat party mess from the Bush era. Economy is back on track, wars are much smaller, Osama is dead, etc. That’s not progress, it’s just getting us back to where Clinton left us.

  35. rachel says:

    @grumpy realist: It would be childish to call her Megan McAddled, but sometimes it’s so very tempting.

  36. Tillman says:

    @Tony W: while I agree fully, I also recognize “appealing to the people” as past presidents could do depended on having three channels of television available. Now they release YouTube videos. The people who think taxes are higher are least likely to voluntarily watch a YouTube vid of the dictator-in-chief prognosticating.

  37. Tony W says:

    @Tillman:

    while I agree fully, I also recognize “appealing to the people” as past presidents could do depended on having three channels of television available.

    Teddy Roosevelt did pretty well in that area :o)

  38. An Interested Party says:

    If the Republican candidate wins a majority of the popular vote…

    Of course, that has only happened once in the past 23 years…

  39. Kylopod says:

    @Tony W:

    Okay, sure – Obama ‘tried’ to get Guantanamo closed, but reelection and a host of other things were more important.

    It’s like you ignored everything I wrote after “Obama tried to get Guantanamo closed.” The overwhelming reason why he didn’t get it closed wasn’t “reelection and a host of other reasons,” but that 90% of the Senate was opposed to it. What, are you suggesting that he had the power to flip 40+ Senators in his direction? That’s completely deranged and shows you have zero understanding of how the government works.

    Health care reform – he tried to work with the Republicans and do something bipartisan. Fools errand.

    It turned out to be a fools errand because the GOP waged a total and absolute war against him on an unprecedented scale. Previous presidents, even very polarizing ones, did get at least marginal support from members of the other party on major policy initiatives. I do agree that Obama–and the Democratic leadership in Congress–understimated the extent of Republican obstructionism. It showed up particularly during the debt ceiling fiasco of 2011 (he proved two years later that he very much learned his lesson), and on health care, the Dems could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by not wasting months unsuccessfully trying to woo Olympia Snowe.

    But why would you possibly conclude they’d have had an easier time if they’d proposed “Medicare for all”? The entire GOP was already united in opposition to anything Obama proposed, requiring him to get his entire party on board, including all the moderates and Blue Dogs who would never accept such a proposal.

    There was no direct appeal to the people

    What exactly is a “direct appeal to the people”? Going across the country giving speeches? He did do that, in 2009. Indeed, one of the frequent criticisms I kept hearing from Democrats at the time was that Obama was overexposed. Not that it matters–research suggests that presidential “barnstorming” has hardly any effect on public opinion.

    there was no Johnson-style arm twisting

    Do you remember the final days before the legislation was passed? Do you remember how numerous Congresspeople who had previously opposed the bill just folded? Remember Kucinich’s sudden last-minute change of heart? Remember how the anti-abortion bloc accepted a lame executive order at the last minute in return for their support? I’d say there was plenty of “Johnson-style arm twisting” going around. It’s especially clear since a lot of those last-minute holdouts ended up losing their seats because of their vote for the bill.

    Johnson, of course, had much larger Democratic majorities than Obama, and he sought–and received–significant support from Republicans for the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, and other initiatives. In fact, his whole reputation as a legislative “arm twister” didn’t come from his presidency, it came from his years as Senate Majority Leader. But it’s worth noting that he also had a reputation as someone who made compromises in order to get deals done, alienating purists in his party.

    Indeed, Medicare itself is a compromise with single-payer. In the 1940s, Truman tried to pass single-payer health care and failed. So the Dems narrowed their goal to health care for the elderly and poor. If Obama was a failure for failing to “go to the mat” over single payer for the entire populace, so was Johnson.

    I don’t understand why somebody would run for office if they are not prepared to use every power of that office to get things done.

    The problem is that you have a poor understanding of just what those powers are.

    All Obama has really accomplished is cleaning up the frat party mess from the Bush era. Economy is back on track, wars are much smaller, Osama is dead, etc. That’s not progress, it’s just getting us back to where Clinton left us.

    I think the millions of Americans who now have insurance under Obamacare might disagree.

  40. Tony W says:

    @Kylopod: Your points are entirely valid. My beef is with obstructionism, and perhaps I blame executive leadership when there was little opportunity to persuade the most traitorous party in American history – one who would literally shut down the government in order to try and rid people of health coverage. I certainly apply 20/20 hindsight.

    Maybe Obama’s failure is just managing expectations.

  41. wr says:

    @Tony W: “Maybe Obama’s failure is just managing expectations. ”

    With all due respect, if Obama’s problem is not with his accomplishments but with your expectactions, maybe the fault isn’t really his…