WASHINGTON -- A coalition of Democratic groups and progressive bloggers launched a new campaign on Thursday focusing attention on Republican members of Congress who voted to repeal health care reform while getting their own coverage on the taxpayer's dime.
The line has become a common refrain as the Affordable Care Act comes under attack. And so, on its face, the push by Americans United for Change, along with Daily Kos, Crooks and Liars, Hullabaloo and Down with Tyranny is not particularly unique. The groups are coordinating with ten state-based blogs to help fund and publicize the ads. On an unrelated note, the Public Campaign Action Fund, which monitors the influence of money in politics, put up its own set of ads on Thursday targeting Republicans for doing the bidding of insurance companies in their effort to repeal the health care bill.
What's more interesting is the macro politics behind the campaign. For the past year, the progressive blogosphere has been one of the loudest soundboards for Democratic frustration, not just with the president but with the contours of his health care law as well. The perception of disaffection was always a bit overstated -- many prominent bloggers supported the health care legislation in its final incarnation -- but it was certainly a reoccurring theme leading up to the 2010 elections.
How quickly that dynamic has changed since Republicans took control of Congress is telling. And Thursday's ad campaign is just the latest illustration of the shift.
"I think it is a lot easier for us as progressive to focus on a common purpose and when it is in opposition to the Republican ideas," said Tom McMahon, Executive Director for Americans United for Change, a group that has never deviated from being an Obama ally. "The quickest way to get everyone to come together is for there to be a common purpose and a unifying element. And people have worked long and hard of getting to where we are. They want to protect these gains."
All of which is not to suggest that the coldness between Obama and the progressive netroots has completely thawed. The selection of Bill Daley as Chief of Staff and the prospects of Social Security reform being a major component of the State of the Union address have and could spur a round of recriminations.
But several weeks into the new year, it's telling how quickly the progressive blogging community has returned to its political origins: as a philosophical counterpoint to a Republican-controlled Congress.
"I certainly think that GOP control of the House will provide us with plentiful opportunities to point out hypocrisy," said Chris Bowers, campaign director for Daily Kos. "As an institution that formed when Democrats where in the opposition ... there may be a sense that this is a lot more natural to us ... As I heard a rightwing blogger say in 2009, to a certain extent it is always more fun storming the castle."
Below is a copy of the ad: