The Republican feeding frenzy started almost as soon as President Obama's words escaped his lips last week. Though he himself is not on the ballot in a few weeks, the president told an audience at Northwestern University, his policies most assuredly are. "Every single one of them." Several GOP campaigns promptly churned out ads based on Obama's words, casting Democratic opponents as cut-outs for the Obama agenda. A host of Senate Democrats up for re-election have earned that distinction, voting with Obama between 90 and 99 percent of the time. Longtime Obama political guru addressed the president's lightning-rod remarks on Meet the Press, calling the formulation "a mistake:"
Todd: Would you have put [that line in there]?
Axelrod: No, but understand, if you read the speech, the context of the line was the policies he's pushing forward...but the way, it was obvious when you saw the speech that was not the way it was gonna [play]...
Todd: You're an ad man...
Axelrod: ...It was a mistake.
Obama may have been attempting to refer only to a handful of poll-tested initiatives, but his broad, boastful phrasing left himself wide open. Political mistakes seem to be cropping up on a daily basis with this administration. The Vice President finds himself in the awkward but familiar position of apologizing for a series of gaffes committed in recent days -- even though some of his too-candid-for-public-consumption assessments about nominal Middle Eastern allies may not be too far off the mark. The president, meanwhile, was challenged on rising healthcare costs by a questioner at an invite-only event in Indiana on Friday:
I am the general manager at Millennium Steel. we are honored to have you. One of the questions I had is about the health care costs. We are seeing almost a double-digit increase in health-care costs every year. Do you think that trend is going to go down, and what can we do to control that trend?
Obama and his supporters are trying to convince Americans that Obamacare is working well in the "real world," despite what conservative media outlets might say. Here we have an invited presidential guest, whose job entails purchasing healthcare for his employees in the real world, describing what he's actually experiencing. Obama's response? You really need to shop better, sir:
That is interesting. You’re going to have to talk to Henry because — no, no, no, this is serious. The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough...So the issue now is what can we do to make sure that you at at Millennium are shopping and seeing more competition.
Over the course of his lengthy answer, Obama once again touted the slower than usual growth in healthcare costs and spending in recent years, for which he's repeatedly credited Obamacare. In fact, the government's own bookkeepers and other outside experts primarly attribute the trend to the weak economy. Back in the real world, premiums continue to rise (not fall, as promised), and the overall "cost curve" is still pointed in the wrong direction. For those millions of consumers who find their coverage rates and out-of-pocket costs stubbornly ascendant, the president wants you to shop harder. Obamacare is one of those policies that is on the ballot in November. I'll leave you with POTUS' October pep talk for Democrats:
(1) "Republican Congress." Harry Reid's Senate doesn't count, apparently. (2) In discussing recent election cycles, he leaves 2010 unmentioned. Weird. (3) We're up against the ignorance of our own voters, Democrats: "We've got our work cut out for us. Most of our Democratic voters aren't aware that there's even an election on November 4."