by Paul Goldman
Terry McAuliffe’s “all-in” poker play on Medicaid expansion may be the gutsiest 200-proof political position taken by a candidate for Governor in the modern era. In stark contrast to what I hear from Republicans, the press, and even some Democrats about how the TMacker is an empty suit, this is utterly ludicrous to us at 200-proof. Why? I will make tihs clear shortly.
Again, we analyze the politics of things. We leave the moralizing to those with superior moral values. We leave deciding what is the best policy decision to those with superior wonkish credentials. We leave what is the best power play to those who are the folks with the power. And we leave the strategy/academic thing to the gurus so they can do their guru thing.
We just ask for a little section, a little piece of astroturf, to sit and call the game based on what is happening on the field AS IS. However they got to that part of the field to run a particular play is for the brainiacs to decipher and pontificate. We ain’t that smart. Whether by blunder or brilliance, they are where they are on October 3. We just deal with it.
We are like Aristotle, not Newton or Einstein: we have to use our common sense, we ain’t got all the technology. Heavier stuff falls faster than lighter stuff: how can that not be? And common sense tells us at 200-proof: Democrats don’t appreciate the gutsy nature of Terry’s Medicaid “all-in” expansion call. Cuccinelli and his posse are sure they do. My sweep prediction has long been premised in good measure on my belief that while Terry’s team had “game-on”, the Cuccinelli team could talk the talk but could not walk the walk.
Obamacare and Medicaid Expansion are supposed to be Cuccinelli’s closing argument. The polls show it should have been a good issue for the GOP guv guy. Terry knew that when he went “all-in” on Medicaid and Obamacare. Like I say, this a very underappreciated move. A major league play really.
A quick aside: I am not suggesting that legendary Henry Howell was somehow less courageous when he challenged the segregationist Byrd boys. But Mr. Howell was a “cause” guy. Nor am I suggesting that Terry’s position on Medicaid somehow eclipses Wilder’s “all-in” play becoming the first GUV candidate in the nation to risk it all by making the pro-choice side of the abortion debate the defining substantive issue in the campaign. But Wilder was a big underdog, never with a statistical way to get to 50% without two miracles really. So he had no choice but to make that play, if you studied the playing field. The trick was how to nuance it to get around the “abortion on demand” tag that had killed Democrats in other states.
But Terry McAuliffe was not the underdog when he went “all-in” on Medicaid Expansion. So his situation is different than Henry’s and Doug’s. At 200-proof we would say: So you choose the “limited hangout” route, you nuance it, straddle a little, play the angles, don’t go “all-in”, find that sweet spot where you play both ends against the middle. That’s just 200-proof strategy. What are Don in the Senate, Dave in the House, Monique at DLOV, Bobby in Congress, Levar with Terry’s campaign, and the usual suspects on MSNBC and the like gonna do about it? The Washington Post too. What are they gonna do, switch to Cuccinelli?
This is politics folks, straight up, no ice, “neat’ as James Bond would say. Terry chose to go “all-in” — no study groups, no commissions, no hedge. IN. That’s The Babe pointing at the Bleachers. That’s Clint Eastwood in the terrific movie “Trouble With The Curve” saying: “You will know the sound of the real thing when you hear it.”
So at 200 proof we say: ANYONE who says a candidate for Governor backing an “all-in” play on Medicaid Expansion, gay marriage, along with historically risky plays on the gun and coal issues lacks a platform is smoking the same weed, IF NOT THE HARDER STUFF, that libertarian GUV dude Robert Sarvis wants to legalize in Virginia. Get to the doctor, fast. These are bold political stands for a major party candidate for Governor on an historic basis. B-O-L-D. But given the politics of the state, the gutsiest play is the “all-in” posture on Medicaid Expansion.
I believe the future of Virginia politics, indeed the 2016 national elections, will be impacted in significant ways by Terry McAuliffe’s ability to win in Virginia while being “all-in” on Medicaid Expansion. He isn’t throwing into coverage because that’s the only receiver that might be able to catch the desperation pass to “keep hope alive,” as Reverend Jackson might have said in his political prime. I mean Jessie, not E.W. Terry had a clear 200-proof choice: and he took the gutsiest play possible.
Terry will still have to sell it to the General Assembly. And he will. At which time, for those who had failed to see it back in November, they will realize what we at 200-proof believe: For hundreds of thousands of Virginians, the “locked out and the left out” as Wilder would say, and Howell would agree, they will owe their new Governor a literal lifetime of thanks. For all this – guts and gratitude – Terry deserves a big Democratic turnout for an off-year election.