Until the Syrian calamity of the past week or so, we’ve been in the August-September vacuum of news. Congress and the President, on vacation, wait for stories to crop up that dominate the news cycle.The disappearance of Chandra Levy, Cindy Sheehan to the Crawford Ranch, Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office with a blue dress and cigar, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — these are stories that break in the news vacuum of August and turn into fires.August started off without any such thing. The President’s polling was going down, but slowly. Republicans were going nowhere. The only movement in August came from a former Senator turned think tank President named Jim DeMint. Along with a few of the men he helped get elected to Congress, i.e. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio, Senator DeMint has been traveling the country explaining the need to defund Obamacare.This is the only story that has filled the political news vacuum. And as calls to defund Obamacare have increased, so has favorable polling for Republicans.Concurrent to Jim DeMint’s tour to educate the public, Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have been all over conservative talk radio, Sunday shows, local news outlets, and national news outlet explaining their plan to tie defunding Obamacare to the continuing resolution. Joshua Green at Business Week reported:
After a few days of attending rallies, two things really stood out. The first is that the size of crowds at the Heritage events was enormous—700 or 800 in Columbus on Wednesday; 400 or 500 in Indianapolis on Tuesday; and although I didn’t attend the Dallas meeting last week with special guest Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), it reportedly drew 1,500 to 2000 people. This dwarfed the liberal counter-rallies, which generally attracted only a few dozen people and often seemed to have been organized chiefly to supply the counterpoint (and video footage) on the local news. Now it’s true that Democrats have less cause to rally, since Obamacare is the law of the land. But the conservative crowds were large and whipped into a frenzy directed at Republican lawmakers.
Republican leaders have balked. They have and are, even now, running hit jobs in Washington newspapers attacking the Heritage Foundation, Heritage Action for America, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and even the Club for Growth. The DC Republicans have refused to defund Obamacare — going so far as to schedule more symbolic votes to register their opposition to the law while refusing to connect its defunding to must pass measures like the continuing resolution.Inside the Beltway, the DC GOP Establishment has recruited lobbyists and others to make the case for delaying Obamacare, instead of defunding it. They couch it as the same, but there’s a catch — the bureaucracy will still be able to lock Obamacare in and hurt businesses and people. Republican Leaders, with their “delay” effort will let the bureaucrats continue writing regulations for it, they’ll get rid of the Congressional exemption to Obamacare, but they are flat out refusing to fight the good fight to defund it. They are doing their best to muddy the water on tactics, but can’t escape from the fact they don’t really want to fight to defund Obamacare. They’ll let all the regulations creep into place and never get rid of them come January. Delaying Obamacare does not equal defunding Obamacare and none of us should be let the DC GOP Establishment keep the water muddy on this.But the heartland and fly over country aren’t hearing about delay vs. defund vs. do nothing. Outside the Beltway, they are seeing Jim DeMint’s growing town halls. They are hearing Ted Cruz and Mike Lee on their local TV station and local radio station. They are seeing the ads run by Heritage Action for America, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project, Tea Party Patriots, and ForAmerica. Outside the Beltway the message is all about defunding Obamacare.Jenny Beth Martin and Brent Bozell have started up a concurrent effort to Jim DeMint and Heritage Action for America. Outside of Washington, they have joined Heritage Action, Jim DeMint, the Senate Conservatives Fund and others filling the vacuum. ForAmerica has used social media to generate over 50,000 phone calls in 3 weeks targeting Sen. McConnell, Speaker Boehner, Rep. Cantor, Sen. Graham, Sen. Cornyn and Rep. McCarthy. Most of these calls were generated just from posts on Facebook.FreedomWorks too joined in the action. FreedomWorks crowd sourced congressional town halls, getting thousands of conservatives out to voice their support for defunding Obamacare. Through an assault on web, radio, and TV, FreedomWorks, joining with the other groups helped mobilize the grassroots on this issue. What’s so important is that FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, For America, Madison Project, Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Action for America, Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and their allies focused on local media across the country. Their Republican critics focused on the Washington, DC circle of jerks and that alone.Additionally, though Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Pete Sessions, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor all oppose defunding Obamacare, back in their home states they are aggressively claiming that they do, in fact, support defunding Obamacare. They are telling their constituents that, just like Jim DeMint and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, they too want to defund Obamacare. Their constituents have no idea that in Washington they’re saying something completely different. Go online in Texas and you’ll see John Cornyn asking people to stand with him to defund Obamacare. Mitch McConnell wants every Kentuckian to know he is, yet again, offering up amendments to eradicate Obamacare. They are doing their best to keep their voters in the dark about their true lack of fight.And what is the net result of Jim DeMint’s tour that has these congress critters all claiming to support defunding Obamacare?Well, Congress’s job approval rating has gone up in the past month. It may only be at 20%, but that’s ten points higher than before Jim DeMint and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee started talking about defunding Obamacare.” The Republicans now lead the Democrats on issues tied to the economy and the debt. Over the past two weeks, thanks to the President, they now lead on foreign affairs too.All this polling improved for the GOP once Heritage Action for America, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Brent Bozell, and Tea Party Patriots headed outside the beltway to make the case for defunding Obamacare. Suddenly the GOP had to start talking about defunding, even if in Washington they really don’t want to. As the rhetoric of defunding Obamacare has increased, so has the Republicans’ polling.For those who would argue this is just a rejection of the President and the GOP has done nothing — in 2012 the GOP nominated a nothing who did nothing on Obamacare and the public decided it’d rather go with the nothing it knew than the nothing it cared nothing for. Romney refused to focus his campaign like a laser on Obamacare because of Romneycare. But now, people are losing their jobs, their full time status, and their healthcare because of Obamacare. And they’re listening to Jim DeMint and his friends call for defunding it. And they’re hearing their Republican congressmen lie to them saying they too support defunding Obamacare.Yes, it is true, the GOP would probably get the blame for a government shut down if that happened. But if they held the line until defunding happened, they would be rewarded. The public likes winners. And right now “Defund It!” is the winning message. It has boosted the GOP’s popularity and Congress’s approval rating. It will be devastating for the GOP if they show voters just how much they are not willing to fight. It’ll be “read my lips” all over again.So now it is time to actually defund Obamacare.