Michael Barone

It is reminiscent of the quandary faced by Gen. Maurice Gamelin on the evening of May 15, 1940. Suddenly he realized that German panzer troops had broken through the supposedly impassable Ardennes.

French troops to the north were cut off and rendered useless, troops to the south were falling back in disarray on all sides and no reserves were available between the front and Paris. "Yes," he told the prime minister, "it means the destruction of the French Army."

Now, analogies between military history and politics are never exact, and no one in American politics remotely resembles the Nazis. But there is some resemblance between the plight of Gen. Gamelin and the plight of Democratic strategists in key Senate and congressional races this year.

The general had run out of feasible alternatives. His one hope was that the other side would make a mistake. Alas, the Germans didn't, and a great nation was lost within a few days.

Today's Democrats face losing an election, not a nation, and the cause is Obamacare. They stand on ground of their own choosing, which they suddenly find themselves unable to defend, and they must hope that the opposition makes disabling mistakes.

That has been made starkly clear by Republican David Jolly's defeat of the better-known Democrat Alex Sink in the Florida-13 special election on March 11. The margin wasn't large, 49 percent to 47 percent, and the dropoff in Democratic vote not huge -- President Obama carried the district 50 percent to 49 percent in 2012.

What was more significant is that the well-financed, national party-selected Sink was unable to defend her ground.

Entirely missing from her campaign was a message along the lines of "hands off my Obamacare." You would have heard something like that if a Republican had advocated repealing Social Security or Medicare a year or two after these programs were passed.

But support for Obamacare has been under 50 percent since before it was passed. Democrats would be running ads showing happy Obamacare consumers if they could find any.

Instead they are fending off backlash from ads showing ordinary people who have lost the coverage they had and wanted to keep. Their spokesmen are getting into arguments with cancer patients -- arguments they can't really win.

The Sink campaign, blessed with a non-incumbent candidate who didn't actually vote for Obamacare, tried the national party's recommended "fix it" stance. As maverick blogger Mickey Kaus has pointed out, Sink's suggested fixes were thin gruel, but he suggests others that might be more attractive.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM