Doyle McManus: There's a dark cloud on Democrats' blue horizon

By Doyle McManus

Los Angeles Times

Published: Sunday, Jan. 20 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

At his news conference Monday, instead of calling for far-reaching reforms, Obama said merely, "I'm open to making modest adjustments to programs like Medicare."

And instead of proposing steps toward bipartisan consensus on the issue — the only way to fix Medicare because without it any changes will simply become fodder for election campaign attacks by both sides — Obama took a brass-knuckled swipe at GOP conservatives.

"They are suspicious about government's commitments to make sure that seniors have decent healthcare," the president said. "They have suspicions about Social Security."

Attacks like that may be great for party unity in the short run. But they're a distraction from what Obama and his allies should be doing: building support among their own voters for real reform in Medicare, and then working to bring pragmatic Republicans along.

Otherwise, the now-victorious Democrats risk finding themselves, four years from now, in much the same place Republicans are today: so absorbed in maintaining their own unity that they've lost voters' confidence in their ability to govern.

Doyle McManus is a columnist for The Los Angeles Times.

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