The attack ads are coming anyway

THE ATTACK ADS ARE COMING ANYWAY…. Some right-wing activists are targeting 13 House Democrats with health care ads right now, all of whom are believed to be vulnerable in the midterm elections, and all of whom voted for health reform last November. The message is predictable: Lawmaker A voted for a takeover, taxes, rationing, blah, blah, blah — and now he/she may do so again. Call Lawmaker A and tell him/her….

Jonathan Cohn offers these 13 lawmakers some sound advice: pay close attention to the wording of the ad before deciding whether to switch.

[R]ead that script again. But, this time, stop after the first paragraph. That’s the ad conservatives will run against these members even if they change their votes. And it’s still devastating.

On the other hand, if reform passes, then these House members can defend themselves by pointing to the newly passed health care reform law, hyping virtues like the prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions, and asking why opponents of the law want to repeal it. Plus, of course, the House members won’t look completely feckless for having spent a year debating a bill that never became law.

There’s no way to know for sure how these things will play out. But it seems to me that House members who stick to their gun, pass the bill, and defend it will be in a much stronger place politically.

I can appreciate lawmakers feeling anxiety, but I can’t understand why they think they’d be better off voting against health care reform after having voted for it.

They already did the right thing once. If that vote was controversial in their district, it won’t suddenly become less controversial if they reject a more moderate Senate bill. These lawmakers do realize that the attack ads are coming anyway, don’t they?

If the lawmakers have already taken the hit by voting for reform, the only way to strengthen their position for the election is to finish the job, deliver on the promise, and sell their handiwork.

The political climate is inhospitable, but it can be changed. These nervous Dems just need to give success a chance, because failure will only make things worse.