In late July when President Obama started going after the insurance industry in his pursuit of healthcare reform, observers and conventional wisdom setters all came to the conclusion: Obama—and, by extension, Democrats—finally had identified an enemy to fight against. On Wednesday, though, it appeared that the Obama political machine changed course, choosing instead to launch a no-holds-barred campaign that lumps all of its political opponents together and classifies those opponents—basically—as nut jobs. The Democratic National Committee launched a web ad on Wednesday that is by far its most aggressive since Obama took office. The ad’s script reads the "the right wing extremist Republican base is back" and claims the GOP is inciting "angry mobs." "Their goal," the announcer says, "Destroy President Obama." The ad is somewhat dark and disturbing. It uses video of crowds during the campaign, an image of someone lynching an effigy of a congressman and, of course, birthers. The message is clear: Democrats, who have seen their efforts toward healthcare reform stalled, want to paint their healthcare policy opponents as a small, angry fringe and tries to group them with those who oppose the president on less mainstream issues. The Democrats are now, it seems, willing to go negative. How's this for a carpet-bombing statement from Brad Woodhouse, a DNC spokesman?The Republicans and their allied groups - desperate after losing two consecutive elections and every major policy fight on Capitol Hill - are inciting angry mobs of a small number of rabid right wing extremists funded by K Street Lobbyists to disrupt thoughtful discussions about the future of healthcare in America taking place in congressional districts across the country. The RNC shot back with a statement of its own, trying to keep the debate framed in reasonable, policy-based terms:This “mob” the Democrats are referring to include millions of American families, small business owners, doctors, veterans, seniors – and even House and Senate Democrats – who have real concerns over the president’s risky and costly government-run health care experiment. And they should be concerned – as this costly experiment will raise taxes without decreasing costs, increase the deficit, will lead to less choice and lower-quality health coverage. Speaking of engaging your enemies, Linda Douglass, the White House spokeswoman on healthcare, fired what may have been the first shot into the heart of the mob’s collective camp when she took on web maven Matt Drudge. In a video posted on whitehouse.gov, Douglass took issue with a heavily sliced up video of Obama that had been linked to by the Drudge Report which suggested the president wanted to do away with private health insurance. Douglass' video has been criticized as counter-productive in conservative circles, and Drudge responded by posting an uncut version of the video that started the spat. Guess which videos are getting more views?Jeremy Jacobs is the staff writer for Politics magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In late July when President Obama started going after the insurance industry in his pursuit of healthcare reform, observers and conventional wisdom setters all came to the conclusion: Obama—and, by extension, Democrats—finally had identified an enemy to fight against.