Republicans are in the midst of a messy civil war between their establishment wing and the tea-party insurgents. But with President Obama’s approval ratings collapsing amid problems with his signature health care law, Democrats are starting to face their own divisions.
— President Obama v. the Clintons. It’s hard to believe Bill Clinton’s recommendation that Obama honor his health care promise was an accident. Not only did it provide cover for congressional Democrats to break with the White House, it also added to the pressure on an administration desperately trying to come up with any last-ditch administrative fix to stop the bleeding — without harming the law itself. Clinton knows how damaging the Obamacare problems could be to Senate Democrats and, if not resolved soon, that they could have a lasting impact on his wife’s (likely) presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton can’t tweak her old boss, but her husband certainly can (and has before).
— Congressional divide between red-state Democrats and Obama loyalists. We’re already seeing red-state Democrats and senators on the ballot in 2014 begin to break away from the White House. As politically palatable legislation to alter Obamacare comes through with bipartisan support, there will be a lot of pressure on others to join in (paging reliably liberal Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Ben Cardin). The White House may resist, but a veto-proof majority may soon be building to make significant changes to the law, given the current political sentiment. Despite difficult relations with Congress, Obama usually could count on party loyalty to get him through rocky patches. Not anymore.
— The party’s Hillary Clinton-Elizabeth Warren split. Clinton looks closer to a lock than anyone for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination this far out — assuming she runs. But the party’s progressive wing is already started to push Elizabeth Warren as a credible candidate. That’s unlikely. Warren, despite the buzz, isn’t a smooth campaigner. She would appeal mainly to a narrow, affluent slice of the Democratic electorate, and many of her Massachusetts Senate donors would go with Clinton. But as 2016 draws closer, Democrats may start to worry about Obama’s baggage spreading to the party’s future nominee. Expect to hear growing progressive angst to find any liberal outsider to challenge the formidable front-runner.
American political history shows that the president’s party tends to be united, while the opposition often looks leaderless, rudderless, and divided. But when the president’s approval rating sinks into dangerous territory, that formula becomes inoperative. And Obama is facing the reality that many longtime allies are now looking out more for their political survival than his legacy or the fate of his namesake law.
What We're Following See More »
"Senior White House official Jared Kushner and his legal team are searching for a crisis public relations firm, according to four people familiar with the matter. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has quietly called at least two firms, these people said. The inquiries have occurred in the past two weeks, and officials at the firms were asked not to discuss the conversations with others."
"The Federal Communications Commission plans to fine Sinclair Broadcasting Corp $13.3 million after it failed to properly disclose that paid programming that aired on local TV stations was sponsored by a cancer institute, three people briefed on the matter told Reuters. The proposed fine, which covers about 1,700 spots including commercials that looked like news stories that aired during newscasts for the Utah-based Huntsman Cancer Institute over a six-month period in 2016, could bolster critics of Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media Co."
"The day after the suicide of Kentucky state Rep. Dan Johnson, his widow announced that she plans to run for his seat. 'Dan is gone but the story of his life is far from over,' Rebecca Johnson said in a statement Thursday to multiple news outlets. 'These high-tech lynchings based on lies and half-truths can't be allowed to win the day. I've been fighting behind my husband for 30 years and his fight will go on.'"