Democrats began employing Mediscare in the 1970s against Ronald Reagan. The pattern was simple, and remains the same today. When conservatives say anything about restraining the growth of ever-expanding entitlement programs like Medicare, the left demagogues them as heartless bastards out to slash benefits and starts fundraising.
Last year, the talking point was that the right was going to "end Medicare." It got so out of hand that even left-leaning fact check outfit Politifact felt obligated to name Mediscare the lie of the year.
Perhaps embarrassed by this, Democrats seem to have put Mediscare on the back burner for the time being. But we're seeing something analogous in the wake of the Obama administration's announcement that religious institutions will be forced to subsidize employees' birth control and/or morning after pills via insurance. When conservatives responded (albeit crudely in a few cases) that employees at these institutions could buy their own birth control, the left reacted with outrage and proclaimed it a "war on women."
What happened next was predictable. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee, began giving a new stump speech in which she expressed her shock and dismay that birth control is even an issue in 2012. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got into the act the other day, vaguely suggesting that conservatives are akin to the Taliban. (If only the President were as eager to apologize to Catholics as he is to rioting Afghans.) Fundraising appeals followed suit and the DNC announced four days ago that it was forming something called the Women's Institute, which sounds important but is actually just another attempt to gin up votes for Obama this November by scaring women to the polls.
In 2011 the left fueled itself on Mediscare. In 2012 they seem to be going with Gynescare.
But the early results aren't very promising. A NY Times poll released today asks two questions about birth control and finds that 51% of Americans believe employers should be able to opt out of coverage if they have a religious or moral objection. When the question is re-focused on religious institutions, such as Catholic hospitals, 57% agree and just 36% disagree.
That's even after weeks of media focused on the issue, nearly all of it following the Democratic line. Has even one reporter asked Sandra Fluke how she came up with the absurd $3,000 figure for the cost of birth control? Surely she's heard of Planned Parenthood?
That Gynescare isn't working so far shouldn't cause conservatives to become complacent. The left will have plenty of money and legions of friendly reporters to flog this narrative over the next eight months. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need to keep the left's latest divide-and-conquer strategy in mind.