Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The wisdom of prior commitments and the complexity of politics

By Richard K. Barry

Just kidding about politics being complicated. It's simple really. There are just a few basic rules, one of which is that politicians shouldn't draw undue attention to measures they support that are highly unpopular with their constituents. See? Simple.

"Embattled" Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) gets that, which is why he is making himself scarce when Bill Clinton comes to Arkansas to talk about how great ObamaCare is. Pryor's press aide is saying that the senator has a prior commitment so won't be able to attend. Yes, he has a very important meeting with political prudence, which will keep him out of town.

Fact is that Pryor voted for the Affordable Care Act and he certainly loves him some "Big Dog," who has been generous with his time in helping Sen. Pryor raise money in what will be a tough reelection bid in this very red state. But ObamaCare is not popular in Arkansas and there is just no upside to reminding prospective voters that you are offside on the signature piece of legislation of the man they love to hate - the Kenyan socialist.

It's not like Republicans are going to let Arkansans forget Pryor's position on ObamaCare. It's just that visuals matter - another of those basic political rules. That voters might recall you hold a position they don't like is one thing, having pictures of you supporting that position is another. And with Mr. Clinton there, the cameras will be in abundance.

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