The right's election-year attack on the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be pretty straightforward: it's big government, it raised taxes, the website didn't work for a couple of months, and it falls under some strange definition of "socialism."
But as "Obamacare" starts to look a whole lot better than it did a few months ago, conservatives are switching gears a bit. In fact, the new argument from the right is nothing short of amazing: conservatives are attacking the ACA for not being liberal enough.
Yesterday, for example, Freedom Partners, a political operation that enjoys financial support from Charles and David Koch, launched a new attack ad in Michigan's U.S. Senate race, targeting Rep. Gary Peters (D). The voice-over tells viewers:
"Congressman Gary Peters says he's standing up to health insurance companies. The truth? Peters voted for Obamacare, which will give billions of taxpayer dollars to health insurance companies."
Got that? After years in which the right screamed at every opportunity that the Affordable Care Act was a socialized government takeover of the American health care system, these exact same conservatives now want the public to believe the exact opposite: the ACA is a sweetheart deal for the private health insurance industry that tried to kill the law before it passed.
Maybe now would be a good time to mention that this is bonkers. The Koch brothers' operation and its allies can argue that the Affordable Care Act is socialism or they can argue it's a giveaway to Corporate America. They can claim the "Obamacare" is radical liberalism or they can claim it's too conservative.
But to argue all of this at the same time is to treat Americans like idiots.
Keep in mind, this truly ridiculous pitch isn't just popping up in Michigan.
* Earlier this month in Iowa, the Koch-financed Freedom Partners condemned Rep. Bruce Braley (D) for supporting a health care reform law through which "health insurance companies stand to make billions."
* The same day, the Koch-financed Freedom Partners launched an attack ad in Colorado: "Mark Udall worked with insurance companies to pass Obamacare. Now Udall claims he's standing up to them."
* A day later, Freedom Partners launched an attack ad in Alaska with the same message.
This is head-spinning, to be sure, but it also marks a turning point in the larger debate.
Republicans insist this is a center-right nation and they'll thrive so long as they support conservative solutions, but when push comes to shove and the right wants to win, the Koch brothers and their allies are left with one option: attacking Obamacare for not being liberal enough.