December 12, 2013
Republicans who recently gained the momentum from President Barack Obama’s disastrous roll out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) no doubt winced as Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens handed Democrats an early Christmas present with one of the worst analogies ever made.
According to Philip Bump with the Atlantic Wire, this is what Hudgens said at a meeting with Republican women:
“Say you’re going along and you have a wreck. And it’s your fault. Well, a pre-existing condition would be you then calling up your insurance agent and saying, ‘I would like to get collision insurance coverage on my car.’ And your insurance agent says, ‘Well, you never had that before. Why would you want it now?’ And you say, ‘Well, I just had a wreck, it was my fault and I want the insurance company to pay to repair my car.’ And that’s the exact same thing on pre-existing insurance.”
This is what will make Republicans nationally and locally cringe. Being at fault for a car crash and being born with a pre-existing condition really aren’t the same thing. Playing devil’s advocate, I can guess that Hudgens is upset that insurers will have to cover pre-existing conditions that they didn’t have to pay for before, and that’s a new thing. But blaming people for their own pre-existing conditions can cost a party more than one election.
Hudgens responded by saying he didn’t know he was being videotaped. He must not have been paying attention to the 2012 election, where Romney was videotaped saying some pretty damaging things to his own cause with his “47 percent” remark.
It is eerily reminiscent of callous remarks given by Rep. Todd Akin and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock about women and abortion. Such words cost Republicans two winnable Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana in 2012. Off-handed comments with little to gain politically and lots to lose in an election cost the GOP Senate seats in Colorado, Nevada and Delaware in the 2010 election.
Hudgens’ defense was to claim that he was receiving death threats. Of course, anyone who does so is as dumb as those words, and should be prosecuted if caught.
Republicans seem as inept as ever these days of making a coherent argument against the ACA, especially when there’s a clear one staring them in the face. This is a fix-it problem right now. The Executive Branch is having a fix-it problem. Focus on that. But Hudgens took on the most popular part of the ACA, coverage of pre-existing conditions (80 percent support covering them), and gave Democrats all the ammunition they need to make this national quote-board material.
GOP State Sen. Seth Harp, a military veteran and attorney from the Columbus area, lost to Hudgens in a primary. He’s a far more politically astute politician who wouldn’t embarrass the party this way. Republicans need to contact Harp to see if he’s willing to make a primary challenge here in Georgia.