Terry McAuliffe’s Gutsy Call Defines 2013 Election


    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.

    • From the McAuliffe campaign:

      The Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance endorsed Terry McAuliffe for governor Thursday, marking the first time the group has ever endorsed a gubernatorial candidate in Virginia.

      “I am honored to have the support of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance,” said McAuliffe. “As governor, I will be committed to building off the bipartisan transportation compromise our legislature passed earlier this year so we can continue to strengthen our transportation infrastructure, keep Virginia competitive in the 21st Century, and create more economic opportunities for the thousands of contractors that VTCA represents across the Commonwealth.”

      VTCA’s endorsement is based on in-person interviews with and presentations by the candidates and their written responses to VTCA’s questionnaire that focused on a variety of issues critical to VTCA members.

      VTCA is the advocate and spokesperson for Virginia’s transportation construction and aggregates industries, and represent the contractors, aggregate producers, engineers, suppliers and service providers who design, build and maintain Virginia’s transportation network.

    • kindler

      …which I blogged about yesterday.

      Add it all up, and yes, I agree — Terry deserves a lot more respect and attention than he’s getting from the Democratic base.  He’s running on traditional Democratic values and of course, doing us the enormous favor of standing up against an extreme right wing throwback.  

      Hell yeah, more progressives should be out on the streets working to elect him.  

    • DJRippert

      McAuliffe is already acting like he’s governor.  Making the hard calls and taking the heat that comes with those hard calls.  Given McDonnell’s epic lame duckery this is good.  Somebody has to be the adult in the room.

      I’ve known Terry for quite a few years.  I can see why people might not like his positions.  I can see why people might not like his expansive personality.  But empty suit?  No way.  I predict he’ll be a great governor if we can just get him to Richmond.

      And, like Bill Bolling, I am an old school Republican.

    • gjosephmyers1

      The reason I am holding my nose and voting for Terry McAuliffe is his support for Medicaid expansion. That is a big time difference.

      We, who have insurance, already pay for the uninsured. It is better to have them inside the tent of health insurance rather than outside.

      On this issue, Gov. McDonnell and Mr. Cuccinelli are simply wrong. The notion one would throw away 33,000 jobs and other benefits, including slowing the rise in health care costs, and promote death to those who cannot afford access to care just to spite the president is sad.

      On this issue, McAuliffe is on the side of progress and deserving of a vote of support.

    • Matt_H

      I am very interested in this topic, but what exactly did he say?  I’ve always thought it would be great to gradually lower the eligibility age for Medicare until it covered everyone – a single-payer system.  

      I’d be shocked, but pleasantly pleased if his Medicaid expansion would include Medicare expansion too. I do recall this year that he said he is unwilling to push to repeal right-to-work or even bring up the subject of gay marriage, because in his words, it’s always been on the books in Va, and there is no use advancing anything that is DOA (by definition not progressive).  I’d appreciate hearing from anyone about his Medicaid expansion and if this included Medicare.  Thanks.