It's here and it's going to stay here, says Luckovich—and not because it's some sort of vile but ineradicable fungus. No, because it's new and vibrant; meaning Republicans who oppose it and ridicule it at every turn are beginning to look a little stupid (not to mention thuggish and out of touch).
What a radical, daring thought!
Here's what we're used to. The Tribune's Scott Stantis ridiculing Obamacare as an exercise in domestic humbuggery . . .
. . . that doubles as a metaphor for Obama's global humbuggery . . .
. . . and as a rich source of yuks for Stantis's comic strip, Prickly City:
And here's the Sun-Times's Jack Higgins weighing in on Obamacare as a fiscal boondoggle:
Stantis and Higgins aren't outliers. The Obama administration's clumsy rollout made it easy for America's editorial cartoonists to assail the Affordable Care Act on procedural grounds and ignore the point of it—health care for Americans who couldn't afford health care—an end which, if kept in mind, might have obliged them to call out Republicans who calculated a bad law would suit them better than a good law or even no law at all. I liked to think the Republicans' position—to hell with Americans who need health care; we're going to mau-mau this sucker until we're running the country again—also deserved a sarcastic sketch or two, but cartoonists who agreed have been hard to spot. Here's an array of the profession's artwork.
One cartoonist who's paddled against the tide is the Houston Chronicle's Nick Anderson. Another is the Washington Post's Tom Toles. The Tribune has preferred to bring us the musings of Michael Ramirez, probably the most relentlessly anti-Obamacare (and anti-Obama) cartoonist of them all.
But scorn as the attitude of choice is feeling dated. A few days ago the New Republic posted a story by Brian Beutler titled "Obamacare's success is destroying the GOP's midterm strategy." The next day brought a companion piece by Danny Vinik, "The Republican Party's plan to retake the Senate is falling apart."
Trashing Obamacare has been a big part of that plan. But, writes Vinik: "The media narrative about Obamacare seems to have turned a corner since the administration announced eight million signups. Every day, it seems, there is a new survey or report bearing good news about the law. This hasn’t improved the opinion polls yet, but it likely will. After all, support for the law didn’t deteriorate right after the catastrophic launch. It took more than a month to register. Republicans want to make the midterms a referendum on Obamacare, but that is easier said than done. As Brian Beutler has documented, the law’s recent success has hamstrung Republicans' ability to use it for political gain."
The New York Times reported Thursday that a poll it took with the Kaiser Family Foundation found that in four southern states where President Obama is unpopular—North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas—people don't know what to think about Obamacare. "Most people still loathe the law . . . But majorities say they do not want it taken away, even in states that lean Republican in presidential elections." Instead, they wanted it revised and improved. "But," the Times noted, "Republicans, who control the House, have refused to allow fixes, pushing for repeal and replacement."
What's an editorial cartoonist to do in the face of this research? Ambivalence is hard to draw. Worse, it's hard to indulge.