On her MSNBC program Rachel Maddow highlighted how President Obama called the bluff of Republican governors and some would be 2012 presidential candidates on healthcare reform. Maddow characterized Obama’s message as, “Go ahead, Republican governor that wants to challenge me for the presidency. I hereby give you the ability to replace my plan with your own. So put up or shut up.”
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Maddow began, “President Obama meeting with governors visiting him in Washington, D.C. this week. President Obama was not a governor. He was a United States senator before he was elected president. But mostly in this country, we like to elect governors. The last guy before Obama that was a sitting senator was elected president was in 1960. It was President Kennedy. So, when President Obama looks at all of those Republican governors out there, he is looking at out a group that will probably provide his strongest challengers for his re-election in 2012.”
She then explained the real point of Obama’s remarks to the Republican governors, “To that end, I don’t know really why it’s not being covered this way, but President Obama this week just called the bluff of every single one of those Republican governors and potential challengers. President Obama has just effectively prevented any of them from running against him in 2012 on the basis of health reform.”
Maddow played a clip of Obama challenging the governors to come up with their own plan, “If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensibly as the Affordable Care Act does, without increasing the deficit, you can implement that plan and we’ll work with you to do it.”
The MSNBCer explained how Obama had just called the Republican healthcare bluff, “This will go down in history as the great bluff calling of the 2012 presidential election. You think the federal government screwed up so badly on health reform, you guys, you do it better, governor, really? Go ahead, Republican governor that wants to challenge me for the presidency. I hereby give you the ability to replace my plan with your own. So put up or shut up. If you think you can do it better, don’t just complain, show me. And presto, either every Republican governor now loses to Barack Obama for the same Romneycare that Mitt Romney will, or health reform goes away as an issue in the 2012 campaign.”
I disagree with Maddow on one point. I don’t think any of the Republican governors with national potential are going to run against Obama in 2012. Why would they run against an incumbent whose poll numbers aren’t that bad when they can build their stature and take their shot at the White House when the seat is open in 2016? I don’t think any Republican with a potential future is going to risk running against the Obama campaign machine.
It is possible that Obama wasn’t only trying to take healthcare of the table for the 2012 presidential race, but also for the congressional and state races too. It would be very foolish for the Republican Party to read too much into the power of healthcare reform as an issue at the polls based on the results of 2010. The midterm electorate was smaller and dominated by the right. In 2012 Independents and Democrats will swamp right wing voters. The electorate will be younger, more ethnically diverse, and the supporters of healthcare reform will be at the polls.
What President Obama did to the Republican governors was some serious Oval Office alpha male territory marking. The right wing narrative about Democratic presidents is that they are reactive and weak. This storyline has unconsciously shaped the way much of the media covers Democratic presidents, but there was nothing weak about Obama’s call out of the Republican governors. It was a demonstration of political strength. Obama wasn’t making an offer to them. He was challenging their manhood, and all Republicans hate having their Charmin soft marshmallow core exposed.
Obama dared the Republicans to step up, and put themselves on the line knowing full well that they lacked the guts, vision, or leadership to take up his challenge. In that room were several wanna be presidents, but one man who is the president, and yesterday Barack Obama showed them why America elected him in 2008 and will reelect him in 2012.