There's a truism in American politics that the remaining undecided voters get dumber the closer you get to election day. This is especially true lately, since the differences between candidates is likely to be stark. If it's late October 2008 and you're still torn between Barack Obama and John McCain, it's pretty clear that you have no idea what you want in a candidate. Like all generalizations, it's not universally true that the late undecided voter isn't very smart, but it's true enough. Some of these voters realize the importance of their decision and agonize over it, some don't like either candidate and are trying to determine who sucks less, but most are just slow. By the time you reach the finish line, the differences between the candidates should be pretty obvious.
Don't ask me why, but this truism popped into my head when I read this post from Greg Sargent:
Late last week, a source says, President Obama summoned a key undecided House Democrat, New York Rep Scott Murphy, for a one-on-one meeting at the White House — a sign that he’s beginning to lavish direct personal attention on individual members of Congress to persuade them to vote for the Senate bill.
According to a source familiar with the meeting, the President asked Murphy what he needed in the bill in order to support it. Murphy is being closely watched right now because he voted No last time, and flipping him to Yes would be a key get for Dem vote-counters.
“It was, `What are you looking for in the bill?’” the source says, describing the President’s request. “Scott was pressing him on the need for cost control. Medicare fraud came up. Scott said we need to step up — what we did in the House last time was not enough.”
According to Sargent, the White House "is amping up the efforts at persuasion, so expect more one-on-one meetings like this one, with the President making a direct effort to give individual House Dems what they need to climb aboard."
Let's look at some dem holdouts and apply the "undecided voters are dumb" cliché, just to see if it fits.
The biggest cadre of holdouts are among Rep. Bart Stupak's abortion funding holdouts. These people are dumb. Federal funding of abortion -- for good or ill -- is already illegal. What Stupak's amendment would do would make it illegal to offer coverage for abortion in private plans in health exchanges. This would be a de facto illegalization of abortion coverage. They say they're concerned about federal money paying for abortion, but the facts say there's no reason for those concerns. So, giving the Stupakian contingent the benefit of the doubt and assuming they're not just lying, we have to assume they're stupid.
Further evidence of pro-life dem stupidity comes in the form of statistics. The United States ranks 30th in the world for infant mortality. This is among the worst in the industrialized world. Even Cuba does better. And Stupak and company stand against expanding coverage for pre- and neonatal care -- under the flag of "saving babies."
For his part, Bart Stupak is predicting failure for healthcare reform.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Monday he thinks House Democratic leaders are not close to having the votes to pass health reform.
In an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, the anti-abortion rights lawmaker said, "I'd be surprised if they have 200 votes."
House Democratic leaders need 216 to pass the bill.
At this point, no one really seems to know if the votes will be there, but the consensus is that it'll be close. The only people echoing Stupak's numbers are people named "Bart Stupak." According to The Hill's whip count, it's the anti-reform side that's short of votes, not the reform-minded. There are a lot of undecideds, but including even leaners who could switch, the antis only have 37 votes now -- they need 38. By my count, if you throw out the leaners, they have only about 24 or 25 firm or likely no votes. These may not be undecided voters, but I think we've established that they're dumb nonetheless.
So Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail this week, kissing hands and shaking babies, trying to sway undecided voters in the final minutes of a year-long campaign. If you're hoping to see reform pass this year, remember that he's pretty good at convincing these last-minute dummies.
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