The Conversation

Debbie Downer and the undying narrative

Some merriment has been directed at DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz claiming that ObamaCare is a big net positive which Democrats will aggressively run on in 2014.  There's always the chance they'll be able to make a successful pitch to the heavily-subsidized government-designated "winners" in this imploding redistribution scheme, but DWS' stated optimism is tempered by her insistence on using the Orwellian phrase "transition letters" to describe the millions of ObamaCare insurance cancellations, which she was pretending were non-existent just a few days ago.  Meanwhile, the rest of her Party is doing its finest impression of rats leaping away from a sinking ship.

But I'd like to put in one favorable word for Debbie Downer, and offer a lesson for her Republican counterparts.  In her clumsy way, what she's doing here is refusing to let a narrative die.  She's not going to let her political opponents write the story about ObamaCare's failure.  If nothing else, she's grimly determined to keep the waters muddied, keep some Democrat cards on the table.

No matter your thoughts on the logical or practical merits of her position, she's got the right idea about narrative control.  This is something Republicans are horrible at doing.  They accept Democrat narratives without much of a fight, even as a political crisis is still unfolding.  Sometimes it's because they don't think they can effective oppose the combined might of biased media.  Sometimes it's because one faction of the GOP thinks it can use the Democrats' preferred narrative to bash other Republicans and jockey for position.

Whatever the reason, Republicans have a tendency to decide narrative wars are over and retire from the field.  The Democrats never do that.  They might look pathetic as they furiously try to spin Obama's Big Lie about health insurance cancellations, but there's real value in refusing to cede an inch of narrative ground without a fight.  

Among Republicans, Senator Ted Cruz is a rare example of someone who plays that game, consistently refusing to buy into the Left's preferred narrative about the shutdown, as one could see during his appearance on Jay Leno's show Friday evening.  Too many of his colleagues are far too willing to accept versions of even the most recent history that paint them in the most negative light, exacting a political price without achieving any positive gain in return.


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