How the GOP Blue It in Virginia
"You know what makes a good loser?" Ernest Hemingway once wrote. "Practice." And if you know anything about Virginia's gubernatorial race, then you understand that the real loser wasn't conservative Ken Cuccinelli. It was the Republican Party. Late last night, politicos clacked away at their computers, performing their own postmortems on a race that proved to be more unpredictable than anyone expected. Double-digit leads, the ObamaCare effect, gender gaps -- they all managed to turn the media's foregone conclusions about Democrats' invincibility on their head.
Despite his deadbeat party, lackluster fundraising, a third-party candidate (funded, it turns out, by Obama loyalists!), and a constant barrage of lies, Ken Cuccinelli finished last night's race only three points behind liberal Terry McAuliffe. He won over Independents (47-38%), outperformed expectations on women (41-52%, while handily winning among married women 51-42%), and swept the 53% of voters opposed to ObamaCare (by a whopping 81%).
By late Tuesday night, the candidate who enjoyed a double-digit lead heading into the election -- McAuliffe -- didn't even win a majority of the vote. That's not, as the media would have you believe, the result of a flawed candidate in Cuccinelli -- but a flawed campaign. Unfortunately for Virginia conservatives, Ken's biggest opponent was never Terry McAuliffe. It was his own party. While the Democrat watched millions stream in from outside groups, the state's biggest GOP donors walked away from Cuccinelli -- and took their money with them.
Outspent an estimated 10:1, Ken had neither the cash flow nor the infrastructure to beat back the Left's constant drubbing (Democrats ran more than 5,600 spots on the abortion issue alone!). Even when McAuliffe hitched his campaign to a reviled law like ObamaCare (which even the President refused to mention on the stump), Democrats rallied around their own. And what did the Republican Establishment do? It starved their candidate, who happened to be one of the most prominent leaders in the legal fight against ObamaCare. That kind of reckless abandonment is inexcusable for a party that claims its first priority is repealing the policy that Ken Cuccinelli took to the Supreme Court.
Like us, RedState's Erick Erickson knows where the finger-pointing will lead. "The GOP will take the lesson from Virginia that if they aren't suddenly socially liberal, they're going to lose nationwide. Instead, they should pay attention to how quickly the polling gap closed once Cuccinelli turned the race into a referendum on ObamaCare. And they should also note that being pro-life in Virginia was not what did in Ken Cuccinelli. McAuliffe tried to mobilize his whole base with a 'war on women' strategy and nearly lost once Cuccinelli attacked ObamaCare head on. The war on women got trumped at the end by ObamaCare."
The Republican National Committee (the same RNC that spent triple on the Governor's race in 2009) insists that it did what it could in Virginia. But when push comes to shove, NRO's Jonah Goldberg explains, it's the grassroots who come out on the losing end. "For all the talk about how the base needs to cooperate with the Establishment more, it's worth remembering that the base almost always does its part on Election Day. It's the Establishment that is less reliable in returning the favor."
Does the Republican Party resent pro-family conservatives so much that it will desert them to fit their own faulty narrative -- that social issues are losing ones? If the GOP would rather concede races to corrupt liberals than go to the mat on values that a majority of Virginians support, then it's clear who the real extremists are.
On Health Care, a Raucous Baucus
The only thing more unpopular than ObamaCare may be the man it's named after. According to Gallup, the President's approval rating is falling through the floor, stopping below 40% (39%) for the second time in five years. Maybe the disaster of a health care law finally caught up to the leader who's outrunIRS scandals, NSA spying, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, administrative perjury, and a general lack of transparency.
Unfortunately for the White House, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius isn't likely to help matters after her second turn in the congressional hot seat. During her hearing today in the Senate Finance Committee, the woman behind the most expensive punch-line in political history said contractors need to fix not one or two, but "a couple hundred" problems with the ObamaCare website. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who had one of the most memorable lines of the spring when he called the policy a "train wreck," chided Sebelius for suggesting the agency "didn't see the problems coming." "We heard multiple times that everything was on track," the Democrat said. "We now know that was not the case."
What is on track is the negative fallout from the law. Doctors and healthy young people aren't the only ones avoiding ObamaCare. New reports are surfacing that hospitals are the next to opt-out of the law. According to CNN, some hospitals won't take the insurance from the ObamaCare exchanges, because it won't compensate the hospital adequately. So patients will either have to pay cash -- or find a hospital farther away that will accept their policy. Once again, this is all part of the law's grand design. Rush Limbaugh tried to connect the dots on his show late last week. He played sound bites of the President telling his supporters that this is all part of the plan to transition America to a single-payer system:
It's how to get to one provider for health care and insurance, and that's the federal government. That's the objective. It's been the objective for 50 years! Obama told the SEIU in 2007 that he knows people wouldn't accept it overnight. He said that it's gonna take five, 10, maybe 15 years to get there -- and the way we're gonna get there is to have people demand it, and how do you do that? You so screw up the existing system that people say, 'Could you just strip all this away? You guys do it,' and eventually get to single payer with the public frustrated and demanding that. That's been the plan all along. The plan all along is to eliminate private sector insurance.
Businesses Get the Short ENDA the Stick
With the news cycle dominated by ObamaCare failures, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is desperate to change the subject. His party's latest attempt to distract is pushing an ultra-radical bill that would give the government the ultimate say over private business decisions. With the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on the table, liberals (and a handful of Republicans) are trying to convince the American people that they aren't tolerant enough to run their own offices.
Through ENDA, employers would be forced to take political correctness to a new and dangerous level -- not just for profits, but for personal safety. (A feature of the law the mainstream media has conveniently ignored.) The measure, which orders everyone from preschools to clothing stores to give preference to homosexuals and cross-dressers, would be the final foothold liberals need to silence and marginalize Americans with traditional values. Under this law, the workplace would be fundamentally transformed from a politically neutral environment to the most powerful platform for the tiny LGBT population.
It would also be a magnet for lawsuits, as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pointed out earlier this week. "The Speaker believes this legislation will increased frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs." Boehner, his office continued, has "always believed this is covered by existing law." Sen. Reid fired back that Boehner's claim was not only "untrue," but "callous." Actually, what's callous is stomping on employers' freedom to run their offices, charities, and businesses the way they see fit.
Unfortunately, a sliver of Republicans seem seduced by the chance to appear more broad-minded on the issue. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who is operating on a shred of the conservative credentials she once had, even went to the floor to campaign for ENDA. Her GOP colleague, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is trying to cushion the blow of his ENDA support with flimsy so-called religious exemptions that will do nothing to protect Americans. His amendment, which passed earlier today by voice vote, would supposedly prevent the government from discriminating against a church or church-run organization in the narrowest of exemptions. If Sen. Portman thinks his amendment will protect him from criticism once Americans recognize what the law means for businesses, he's mistaken. In the meantime, check out FRC's new Issue Brief, "The ENDA Litigation Nightmare," that helps debunks Reid's claims.
** For more on ENDA's threats, don't miss FRC's Peter Sprigg debate the topic on last night's PBS News Hour.
*** FRC's Ken Klukowski, author of an 85-member brief on legislative prayer, offers his take from inside today's oral arguments in his Breitbart piece, "Good Day for Public Prayer Proponents at Supreme Court." Also, check out this interesting Townhall column from FRC's other Ken -- Blackwell -- in "Saving the Motor City."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.