The chattering classes, overrun with Red Sox fans, are waking up to a scary thought: the realization that now they have only the Celtics to cheer hem through an increasingly gloomy time for their favoritist president ever. For them, a special treat: the transcript of my long interview with the New York Times' Peter Baker, which includes many Bush-Obama comparisons (and even a Jay Carney-Scott McClelland side-by-side). There are a great many sharp turns in the interview, so if you missed it, read it all, especially if you want to understand what is happening to this current president right now.
Baker is one of the Manhattan-Beltway media elite's best-and-brightest and with good reason as his new book, Days of Fire, is wonderfully reportered and written, and so fair that Mary Matalin and James Carville could both agree to give it as a Christmas present.
A second treat: The transcript of my long interview Thursday with Charles Krauthammer --a mere grab from which generated stories at Mediaite, the Daily Caller and The Blaze-- will be posted here soon, and his book Things That Matter, is not to be missed either. I think Krauthammer is simply that rarest of Beltway things: a very wise man, and easily the most influential conservative commentator in America given his evening appearances on Special report and his columns. His understanding of the human condition, and especially of suffering and the need to carry on, is profound and on every page of his book. I will be sending quite a few of these books for Christmas, as you should, along with Baker's if the recipient loves their history fair and well-told.
(If this prompts you to start your Christmas shopping while waiting to dispense candy at the door, don't forget The Happiest Life, which won't actually arrive until 12/31, timed as it is for your New Year's Resolution-making. "Really?" you think. Read the blurbs here. And if you are a social media maven, and want a free copy plus some other stuff, join the launch team for the book here.)
Now the awful trick: Obamacare is still there, still metastasizing, still without a serious repair job underway. I wrote yesterday of the need for the House GOP especially to have its Plan B --its contract to fix Obamacare-- on the table ready at the moment the House Democrats or Harry Reid raise the white flag as anguished calls and contacts skyrocket for every incumbent law maker. Getting that plan into easily understood and digestible form --a "stay-in-place" authority for insurers to continue existing coverage through 2014 coupled with authority to sell policies across state lines and a working group of state insurance commissioners to select model policies to point consumers toward on a simple website that doesn't have security flaws and doesn't hide the cost ball-- is a priority for the House GOP Conference.
The House GOP a team of two or three faces for their messaging effort, and Colorado's Cory Gardner needs to be one of them, he who elicited the "please don't do this to me" from Secretary Sebelius as she struggled to escape from having to join millions of Americans falling into the pit of the federal exchanges. A young dad, Gardner knows the nightmare the Colorado exchange is making for millions of Rocky Mountain State consumers. So does Senator Mark Udall, an incumbent whom many previously thought pretty out of range of the GOP's gathering storm. No more. Not with the plague of Obamacare on the land. Watch that space. Watch all those spaces, and dig deep for my ActRight list.
Democrats are digging in on Obamacare, but that just means digging their own electoral holes deeper. I have already identified eight very competitive GOP candidates to take Democratic senate seats, and more from new states are on the way. Having just read Peter Baker's account of the wipe out Republicans suffered in the sixth year of W's presidency, the signs are all there, but perhaps camouflaged from Democratic view by shutdown self-congratulations. (That shutdown looks more and more like the perfect "we didn't do it" branding strategy when it comes to Obamacare, btw.)
The president's approval rating is sinking, sinking, sinking, and not because of bad press. The press keeps trying to do everything it can short of physically carry him to keep him afloat. The left-wing blogosphere and Twitterverse runs 24/7 with screamed defenses and attacks on people just pointing out the facts of the debacle. But stories like the gaping security hole in the exchanges and the shocking premium hikes can't be suppressed because they are happening so many places to so many people.
No deductibles are listed, but they are higher than they were last year. Ask yourself, where are America's young families headed politically when this sinks in. And this table does not begin to represent many of the calls and emails I have received with horror stories far worse than this.
It is the job of the GOP to be for these people losing their existing plans and these people facing shattering impacts to their family budgets and quality of life as a result of the Obamacare revolution. The political reality is that they are getting nothing --nothing-- in exchange for a massive hit on their well being. The GOP wants to reverse that and it needs to explain that every day and in the most precise and easy-to-understand terms.
Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, Senate GOP Leader McConnell and his #2 Senator Cornyn need a plan to point to and they and all their colleagues must keep inviting real Americans facing real economic hardship and the crisis of lost insurance with no replacement available to come to Capitol Hill and stand on the steps and tell their stories. Every day.