Ross Douthat shares the opinion that the Democratic Party's losses in Clinton's first midterm election didn't follow from lies, distortions and misrepresentations about his healthcare reform plan, but instead flowed from lies, distortions and misrepresentations about his crime bill:
Instead, the crime bill became a lightning rod for populist outrage. The price tag made it seem fiscally irresponsible. (Back then, $30 billion was real money.) The billions it lavished on crime prevention — like the infamous funding of “midnight basketball” — looked liked ineffective welfare spending. The gun-control provisions felt like liberalism-as-usual.But alas, Douthat doesn't see a new Newt Gingrich on the horizon to transform the manufactured outrage over a sensible reform bill into electoral victory for the Republicans.
“Every day that the Republicans delayed the bill,” Luntz remembers, “the public learned more about it — and the more they learned, the angrier they got.”
That’s exactly what’s been happening now. The health care push has opened up arguments about abortion, euthanasia and illegal immigration that the Democrats would rather avoid. At the same time, it’s become the vessel for a year’s worth of anxieties about bailouts, deficits and Beltway incompetence.