SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 15, 2013

Benton: Warren up, Obama down

There’s been lots of speculation this week about Bay State Sen. Elizabeth Warren possibly seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. The prospect of Warren in the White House, no doubt, sends shudders through Wall Street, but on the other hand, her candidacy could be a godsend for the ailing Republican Party.

In fact, a shift to the left on the part of Democrats might be just what the doctor ordered for a Grand Old Party that’s been tarred by the extremism of its tea party cohort.

Warren herself is a darling of Big Labor who favors tightening the leash on banks and stockbrokers. But there’s also speculation that her entry in the race could force a move from the middle by current front-runner Hillary Clinton if the two were to face off in a battle for the hearts and minds of more liberal Democratic voters most likely to vote in that party’s pre-election contests.

You might recall how Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both moderates in their former lives, were forced to the right as they sought to appeal to the more conservative voters who show up for Republican caucuses and primaries. The result was annihilation at the polls when they had to defend their more radical views before voters at large in the general election.

Are Democrats capable of making the same mistake by shifting too far to the left?

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Talk about turning your PR victory into an unqualified catastrophe.

This week’s New Yorker cover depicting President Barack Obama wielding an ancient cellphone while trying to troubleshoot the Affordable Care Act’s wacky website shows just how devastating the administration’s lack of preparation has been.

On Tuesday came news that fewer than 50,000 people have succeeded in signing up for insurance through the HealthCare.gov website. (Sources said the administration had anticipated having more than 500,000 on the rolls as of Oct. 31.) And that same day, former president Bill Clinton joined the rollout’s chorus of critics, challenging Obama to make good on his pledge that those already insured would see no difference in the cost or quality of their plans.

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