Alex Sink was the dream candidate for Democrats in a special Congressional election set in a swing district in Florida. Sink had served as the state's CFO and ran a very respectable race as the Democratic nominee for governor just four years ago.
Her opponent was a former lobbyist whose campaign encountered numerous bumps along the way. Many a political pundit had handicapped the race as close, but likely to go to Ms. Sink. But a funny thing happened on the way to her possible victory. Ms. Sink, in a state known for its sinkholes that often appear out of nowhere and swallow up cars or even whole houses, fell into a political version of such, the abyss of Barack Obama and his unpopular Obamacare.
The issue now becomes that of whether a marquee Florida contest is just a minor hole in the political earth or one that will swallow much of the Democratic Party in competitive races in November.
Rather than repudiate the Affordable Care Act, Ms. Sink chose to embrace parts of it and suggest that the alternative of no Obamacare at all would be much worse. Her argument failed, and with the president's approval ratings continuing to drop, Democratic candidates in competitive contests in 2014 will start putting major league distance between themselves and the president.
But they won't be alone. Potential Democratic candidates for the presidency, more specifically Hillary Clinton, must invent a way to separate themselves from the Obamacare debacle. For Clinton the task will be difficult given her longstanding advocacy for universal healthcare. Moreover, the program may become increasingly unpopular as the many extensions and exemptions the administration has offered various groups either come to an end or become necessary to eliminate to help make Obamacare work.
As I have noted in the past, Clinton's potential problems over the president's health care plan is a bit ironic given the fact that it is highly unlikely that, had she been elected in 2008, she would have been nearly as aggressive with such legislation.
In the meantime, Democrats must start to question the sanity of their consultants and even their top leaders such as Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid recently suggested that the stories related to the failure of Obamacare were contrived and untrue. This is proof positive that Harry Reid lives in a fantasyland of Washington insiders who have no concept how much Americans have come to dislike this law and this president.
In reality, the polling on the Affordable Care Act has been and will likely always be atrocious. It's one of those laws that, the more you learn about it, the more you can't stand it. This week the administration is trying to put a positive spin on relatively weak total numbers of individuals who have signed up for the ACA. But a shuffle of words or numbers can't really refute the fact that most Americans dislike this Big Brother, red-tape, heavy-handed intrusion into an area of their life that is most personal to them and where they least want to be treated like "a number."
In Florida, Ms. Sink chose to run on a theme of "why can't we all just work together?" That theme might have been more acceptable to the electorate when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Reid rushed the ACA through, suggesting that we could all read the particulars after it became law. But no one wants to "get along" when it comes to a president that has made an unwillingness to bargain with Republicans in Congress a hallmark of his presidency.
What Republicans must do is "double down" on their criticism of this disastrous health care legislation and pledge that, if given control of both houses of Congress, they will do everything they can to defund its enforcement and delay its implementation.
Obamacare is such bad public policy and is so widely despised that the only comparison that truly fits is that of the crazy constitutional amendment that brought our nation prohibition. Americans suffered through that idiotic concept and sent it packing. They will do the same with Obamacare, even if they have to do it one "sinkhole" at a time.