Why Did the DCCC Lie To Their Members About Health Care?
Thursday September 23, 2010
Carrie Budoff-Brown, writing in Politico, says:
Rarely have so many political strategists been so wrong about something so big. But when it comes to the health care bill, everyone from former President Bill Clinton on down whiffed on some of the more significant predictions.
Well, at least Bubba admitted he was wrong when David Gregory put the screws to him on Meet the Press. Others haven’t recanted:
“If and when this is passed, Democrats will run aggressively on this.” — White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer in The New York Times on March 15, 2010.
Obama told Democrats repeatedly that they would be proud to campaign on legislation as historic as comprehensive health care reform, something that had eluded generations of lawmakers and presidents.
Top Democratic strategists and administration officials, dispatched by the White House, made the case, too. White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina told Senate Democrats during a private caucus meeting in November about the electoral ramifications of health reform that it would be important to achieve parity with the opposition on the airwaves and that they needed to “stand for something, go for it and always play offense.”
Recall the beginning of the year. When FDL hired SurveyUSA to poll four swing districts and see what would happen if Democrats voted for the health care bill with the individual mandate. We chose SurveyUSA because of their record for accuracy, and we absolutely did not expect to find that incumbents like Vic Snyder and Steve Driehaus were 19 points down. People in those districts hated the health care bill. It was clear to anyone who had ever looked at a poll before that it was going to cause a serious train wreck for Democrats in the next election.
So what did the DCCC do? Did they tell look at the polling and say “hey we’ve got a problem here?” No:
Dems rip new Hamsher polls
By ALEX ISENSTADT | 2/16/10 5:11 AM EDT
Frustrated by a series of polls detailing the electoral jeopardy faced by a handful of House Democrats, the party establishment in Washington is pushing back against liberal blogger Jane Hamsher, whose prominent blog Firedoglake commissioned the surveys.
This month, at the request of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz issued a memo slamming the design and composition of the Hamsher-commissioned polls, which reported that four vulnerable House Democrats were in serious trouble.
In late January, a prominent Democratic polling firm, Global Strategy Group — which has conducted extensive work for the DCCC — put out its own memo questioning the accuracy of the automated polling firm, SurveyUSA, that produced the results.
Establishment Democrats, including the incumbents who were the subject of the polls and party committee charged with reelecting them, have sharply criticized the SurveyUSA polls.
“Let me just say that with respect to those polls, they are totally off,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told POLITICO. “We had the opportunity to compare those polls with polls that have been done in a professional manner, [and] the others are very different. So they’re not credible.”
See, and here’s where Van Hollen goes for the “big lie.” The DCCC conducts polling all the time in districts across the country, and with health care undoubtedly the biggest issue the caucus faced over the past two years, they were doing the same thing we were. So I responded to their attacks by asking the DCCC to release that polling. The damage that the health care bill was doing to Democrats in swing districts was so enormous and so patently obvious it was impossible to miss. Van Hollen had to know the same thing we did.
But instead of letting his members know they were in danger, he lied to them. He commenced a propaganda campaign to keep them from finding out the truth: that for many members, voting for the health care bill could very well mean the end of their political careers.
And so the Democratic leadership corralled them all in March, filled their heads full of shit and told them it would be a great thing for Obama, them and the Democratic Party when the bill passed.
The entire party leadership was in on it. It was a “Paths of Glory” moment, where the generals fired on their own troops in the bunkers and forced them into an unwinnable battle that many would not survive.
The question is, why did Van Hollen do that? Why did Pelosi and Hoyer and Reid and those who are supposed to care about Democratic majorities in Congress do that? Because you can not convince me that they did not know better. They absolutely did. Nobody is that stupid. They would have had polling data showing Democrats circling the drain on health care for months by that time.
But as Budoff-Brown writes, no “serious” establishment Democrat wanted to speak the truth until Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post shortly before the final vote “warning the party had deluded itself into thinking that Americans wanted the bill. And as a result, they wrote, Democrats ran the risk of ‘unmitigated disaster’ in November.”
Obama pollster Joel Benenson accused Schoen and Caddell of spredding “Republican myths.” Because that’s always the retort: if you won’t peddle the party propaganda, no matter how mindlessly stupid, you’re “helping the Republicans.”
Of course, that’s bullshit. And as a result, the entire Democratic caucus is freaking out right now because of something that was entirely predictable at the first of the year.
The question is — why did their Democratic leadership lie to their own members? Because members of Congress complaining about “liberal interest groups” who aren’t doing enough to defend them should really be looking at their own leadership, who teed them up for this