Will 2010 voters recall cloture vote? Not if GOP can help it

Republicans sent a fellow named Lemieux out to make the case against Obamacare in Saturday’s national radio address, which followed the president’s weekly turn on the airwaves.

Turns out he’s a senator from Florida. That’s right, the new guy was sent in from the taxi squad to take some snaps while the Sunshine State decides whether Charlie Christ or Marco Rubio is the new senator.

Nothing against Lemieux, but that I misspelled his name twice without your noticing should convey the point. George LeMieux is the best the GOP can come up with as the Senate enters the endgame on the debate over the most radical domestic policy initiative since the Great Depression?

The list of the people I would put on the air before LeMieux if the point was to make an effective and memorable argument is pretty long, but let’s start with Newt, Huck and Mitt — anyone you know by their first name is guaranteed to get more press than the guy with zero dirt on his uniform.

Tim Pawlenty has been very effective as he makes the rounds trying to slow down Obamacare. Any congresscritter from Indiana or Arkansas — states in which incumbent Democratic senators face the voters in 13 months — would have gotten the attention of at least either Evan Bayh or Blanche Lincoln.

If you wanted a pro who could use five minutes to good effect, Rush, Sean, Mark Levin or any of my colleagues on the Salem network — Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager or Michael Medved — would have turned in a tightly scripted and professionally delivered case against the wild experiment with American medicine backed by a half-trillion dollars worth of cuts to Medicare.

Given that President Barack Obama predictably and wrongly cited former GOP Senate leader Bill First as a supporter of Obamacare, wheeling out the heart surgeon to again correct the record would have made for a great bit of theater — underscoring that the president will say just about anything without batting an eye, and that the Beltway-Manhattan media elite will not object. When you are a Nobel laureate, it seems, facts are less relevant than the hope that facts will be used.

If media explosives had been the objective, give the ball to Sarah Palin and let the cameras roll.

Turning the Saturday mic over to LeMieux is just the latest evidence the GOP national leadership doesn’t understand the seriousness of the vote ahead and the urgent necessity of conveying to the public that the Senate’s cloture vote — the vote on whether to end debate, which requires 60 ayes to pass — is everything in this struggle to preserve American medicine. They don’t get the first thing about how to encourage the public, which is already against Obamacare, to communicate that opposition effectively.

Republicans must take and effectively use every opportunity over the next few days to explain again and again that when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moves to limit debate — when he calls for cloture — that this is the vote on which every United States senator should be judged next November, or November 2012 or 2014.

“No” votes on the final bill or various amendments or at any other time except on the cloture motion won’t tell you anything about that senator’s decision on Obamacare. His or her vote on cloture will tell you everything.

Even a few years ago, before the rise of new media, Beltway types could be forgiven for their condescension concerning the great masses of American voters. Sophisticated consultants and long-serving incumbents could tut-tut about the public never understanding what a cloture vote meant.

But they understand now, or could, if their attention was focused on this looming key vote.

Getting the public focused on the vote and its importance is possible, but it will take real effort and a sustained, consistently delivered message made by effective spokesmen to whom the mainstream media and new media alike will pay at least some attention.

And that will require a GOP that is serious about communicating every day, including Saturday.

Examiner columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.

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