The Iraq War and Obamacare are unique in American politics. Both were the signature moments of the respective presidencies and would also be their undoing.
None of the last few presidents who were reelected had a better second term than they had a first. However, for most presidents that was due to scandals and corruption: Watergate, Iran Contra, Monica Lewinsky.
None involved legislation signed by a president and with the exception of Watergate, none would define the legacy of the Commander-in-Chief.
For President Obama and President Bush, their hubris in wanting to remake the world would prove to be their downfall. The defining parts of their presidency would in fact destroy their image and trust with the American public and cause huge losses in elections for their parties.
Democrats learned their lesson earlier on than Republicans.
The beginning of the Iraq War was met with overwhelming support by the American people, however after three years of sectarian war Americans soured on it and support dipped from 75 percent in April 2003 to 32 percent in May 2006 according to a ABC/Washington Post poll.
Unlike the war, Obamacare was never popular; polling constantly showed that a majority or plurality of the population opposed the Affordable Care Act. Democrats suffered huge losses the 2010 midterms but after holding on to the presidency and Senate they thought the worst was behind them.
Support for the ACA increased during the 16-day government shutdown to an all time high of 43 percent while opposition fell just below 50. Likewise, Democrats had a 6-point generic voting advantage in the upcoming 2014-midterm elections.
The implementation and the president’s response changed everything — support fell to just 38 percent while opposition grew to 57 percent. Similarly Democrats dropped in the generic polling by seven points, to a 1 percent disadvantage to Republicans. This was all in less than a month.
It was a radical about-face that caused 39 Democrats to vote with the Republicans in favor of a law that would alter Obamacare despite President Obama’s statements that he would veto such proposal.
A majority of Americans lost trust in both presidents and the only people left supporting both of their quagmires was their base.
Such a fate is now awaiting the Democrats who have chosen to stand with President Obama on the Affordable Care Act.
The Washington Examiner‘s Phil Klein has written that the Iraq War made Obamacare possible. “Exit polls showed that 56 percent of Americans who voted in that year’s (2006) midterm elections opposed the Iraq War.” Had Democrats not seized on that opportunity to gain and then grow their majority they never would have had the chance to pass the ACA.
If Mr. Klein’s thesis is true, Republicans will await a golden opportunity in 2014 and 2016, perhaps even better than the Democrats did in 2006 and 2008.
A very small percentage of Americans were directly affected by the war. Without a draft, a large majority of Americans did not have a direct relations involved in the war. There was a gigantic divide between those who suffered the most and those who did not suffer at all.
Obamacare is different. Many analyists are saying that between 50 and 100 million Americans will have to either lose or change their current insurance policies. Anywhere from 1/6 to 1/3 of the nation will know someone who was negatively affected by Obamacare.
Generally the president’s party does disastrously in the second term off-year election. 2014 will prove much worse than that for Democrats.