Out of Darkness

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

By RICK KLEIN ( @rickklein )

The politics of doing nothing have had quite the fall.

The lesson of the last few months has been that it's easy to be productive by not doing what the other side does. Democrats were cheered for not shutting down the government, then Republican prospects rebounded when the GOP wasn't the party that brought Obamacare.

Stipulating, for argument's sake, that the health care rollout was disastrous… Is it equally clear that it always will be?

The shutdown was a temporary thing, one that's unlikely to be repeated any time soon. (More guidance on that front by the end of next week, though.) The Obama health care law will still be rolling out 11 months from now - but perceptions will surely change with time.

Success or lack thereof won't be all or nothing, not when people start using this law they've heard so much about. A faster Website amid surging traffic has Democrats looking up again, and Bill Clinton is among the confident, saying he was always just trying to help.

As for the other side - underreaching can be its own form of overreaching.


  • 'WE'LL SEE.' That was House Speaker John Boehner's response when pressed on whether the House would pass an alternative to Obamacare any time in 2014. ABC's JOHN PARKINSON notes that while House Republicans have voted 46 times over the past three years to disrupt, dismantle or defund Obamacare, the president has signed off on just seven of those changes. Republicans have long voiced a preference for patient-centered reforms, but Tuesday Boehner was tight-lipped when pressed to vote to replace the president's health care law next year. "We'll see," Boehner answered when prodded for a commitment. http://abcn.ws/1g3lmXe
  • LEADING THE OPTIMISM. Former President Bill Clinton, to FUSION's JORGE RAMOS: "If it's worked through, I think within four or five months people will be talking about something entirely differently. And they will be - and no one will want to repeal this law. They want it to work." http://fus.in/1cVHYE1
  • ONLY TRYING TO HELP. On the pressure Clinton applied for Obama to fix his you-can-keep-it-pledge: "I waited for him to say that he felt badly about it. But the truth is the law that he signed did grandfather in the policies that were in existence when he signed the law. … So I think he's trying to go beyond what he pledged to do."
  • NEW PIVOT. It's a presidential speech on income inequality and the economy coming Wednesday morning, at the Center for American Progress. And later, per the White House: "the President will stop by the White House Youth Summit, an event that will bring together over 160 national and local young leaders with a broad reach in their communities to help get the word out to young Americans about how to enroll. The summit is an opportunity to explain the benefits of health law and tools for enrollment to key young influencers who have a strong reach among 18-35 year olds."
  • NEW PRESSURE. White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri, to THE WASHINGTON POST: "It's not that we think the Web site is fixed and done. At the same time, we need to be talking about the benefits of the law. That's the theory of what we need to do. It's helpful for Democrats." http://wapo.st/1iywahM
  • LESSON LEARNED . "We've learned not to make wild promises about how perfectly smooth it's going to be at all times," President Obama said Tuesday in launching his new push to tout the health care law, per ABC's MARY BRUCE . http://abcn.ws/IDUiPr
  • OH, THAT STATUS QUO. Meanwhile, far away, per the ASSOCIATED PRESS: "Vice President Joe Biden opened a two-day visit to China Wednesday by urging young Chinese students to challenge their government, teachers and religious leaders," per the AP's Josh Lederman. Said Biden: "Children in America are rewarded - not punished - for challenging the status quo…. "The only way you make something totally new is to break the mold of what was old." http://abcn.ws/1ka0VVM


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: There's one number you'll hear over and over for the next year: Six. That's how many seats Republicans must win to take control of the Senate. With time running out for retirements (look for at least one more before the holidays), the field is starting to take shape. Some states that didn't appear to be competitive may turn out that way. At the top of that list is New Hampshire, where Scott Brown is growing increasingly public about his interest in challenging Jeanne Shaheen. On Tuesday, he wrote an Op-Ed about the fallout - in New Hampshire - from the Affordable Care Act. And he accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a Granite State GOP holiday reception later this month. Senate Republican leaders in Washington believe he is this/close to deciding to run. A victory is far from a slam dunk against Shaheen, but if he runs it will be one of the best races in the country, against a backdrop of Obamacare.


YES, BUZZ. Bill Clinton thinks that labeling him as someone who tried to hide his pot smoking is inaccurate. "I didn't say I was holier than thou; I said I tried," Clinton told Jorge Ramos, FUSION's TED HESSON reports. "I never denied that I used marijuana. I told the truth, I thought it was funny." http://fus.in/1dPuKgM

KENTUCKY STRIKE. The US Chamber of Commerce may be helping out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with a new television ad touting the Kentucky senator, but his Republican challenger Matt Bevin says it is because they have a financial interest in keeping establishment lawmakers in office. " There are people who have the wheels greased the way they want them, they know how things operate and they like it that way, and there is a lot of risks associated with disrupting the status quo," Bevin said Tuesday in an interview with ABC News, ABC'S SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. "Many people who are in a position to influence things are using their prerogative to step in and try to keep it the same way." More Bevin: "It is a fool's game for us to believe that we are going to elect the same people over and over, the same people… [who have] been complicit in, and in some cases directly involved in creating the very problems, but now they are going to be the ones who are going to come up with the solution." http://abcn.ws/IqV1Us

ON THE AIR. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is up with a new TV ad that doesn't use words like "Democrat" or "health care" - but where he does say "God" more than once, per ELICIA DOVER of ABC affiliate KATV in Arkansas. "I'm not ashamed to say that I believe in God, and I believe in His word. The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers. Only God does. And neither political party is always right," Pryor says in the ad. "This is my compass. My North Star. It gives me comfort and guidance to do what's best for Arkansas." http://bit.ly/190lJxD

'ATTACK … DEALT WITH.' Former Vice President Dick Cheney reluctantly commented late Tuesday on the rift between his two daughters Liz and Mary Cheney, saying that he was surprised that Mary, who is lesbian, and her wife attacked Liz on Facebook. "We were surprised that there was an attack launched against Liz on Facebook, and wished it hadn't happened," the former vice president said at the National Press Club, per ABC's ABBY PHILLIP. "It's always been dealt with within the context of the family and frankly that's our preference." http://abcn.ws/1gDTtST

COWBOYS AT CAFÉ MILANO. "The first political action committee aiming to raise money for Liz Cheney during the 2014 U.S. Senate Republican primary race in Wyoming emerged Tuesday," per KYLE ROERINK of the CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE. "Called Cowboy PAC, the political action committee is independent of Cheney's campaign and founded by Pat Barrett and Barry Bennett. The PAC will 'expressly advocate the election of Liz Cheney as the next Senator from Wyoming,' according to documents sent to potential donors." http://bit.ly/1clogmM

SPARKING CONVERSATION. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is taking issue with the Democratic-founded group Third Way, after an op-ed Tuesday took down the Elizabeth Warren/Bill de Blasio agenda. Per the PCCC: "We'll soon be holding accountable those who partner with Third Way - and enable their bad behavior." Wednesday morning, Rep. Allyson Schwartz - who's running for governor and is an honorary co-chair of Third Way - will be the latest target for pressure.

CHRISTIE HIT. After headlines and activists in New Jersey called Chris Christie a flip flopper on an important state immigration issue this week, a Democratic group is trying to align the New Jersey governor with controversial Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC, is pouncing on Christie for not supporting a bill passed in the Democratic-controlled state Senate that would grant in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports with an exclusive look at the new online video. http://abcn.ws/1cVIsKi

GOVERNOR VITTER? "This is the logical time to do it, if I'm ever going to do it," Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said of a possible 2015 gubernatorial run, in an interview with the AP's MELINDA DESLATTE. "There are strong arguments in either direction, but the general question in my mind is where I think I can make the most positive contribution." http://apne.ws/1clj2HD

A MERRY PARTISAN CHRISTMAS. With only 22 days left until Christmas, there is a mad rush for shoppers to find the perfect gift for loved ones before the big holiday. The National Republican Campaign Committee tried to break into the Black Friday madness by promoting their new holiday themed products offered at their holiday store via Twitter. ABC's NICKI ROSSOLL writes, the t-shirt is no longer for sale on the NRCC website, but Daniel Scarpinato, National Press Secretary for the NRCC, told ABC News "the t-shirt remains sold out, but we are working on that and several new products for the rest of the month." From an NRCC mug ripping liberals for saying "Happy Holidays" to a thong with President Obama dressed as Santa Claus, here are some more outrageous gift ideas for that special politico in your life. http://abcn.ws/18krHWb


"Scott Walker campaign aide fired after tweets demeaning Hispanics," by THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL's DANIEL BICE. "For the second time in less than four months, Gov. Scott Walker has fired an aide for making demeaning comments about Hispanics on social media. Walker - who has been calling on fellow Republicans to do more to reach out to minority voters - ousted Taylor Palmisano as his campaign's deputy finance director on Tuesday. The first-term governor made the move after No Quarter contacted his campaign regarding the inflammatory tweets. In one, Palmisano, 23, complained about an individual who was doing custodial work in a library in which she was working. 'I will choke that illegal mex cleaning in the library. Stop banging (expletive) chairs around and turn off your Walkman,' she posted on March 9, 2011." http://bit.ly/1bgWcw3

"Judge says Obama's uncle can stay in US," by THE BOSTON GLOBE's MARIA SACCHETTI: "A federal immigration judge ruled Tuesday that President Obama's uncle can remain in the United States, sparing him deportation to his native Kenya in a case that riveted attention on the elderly man who had lived under the radar in this country for 50 years. For most of that time, he was here illegally. Boston immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro said Onyango 'Omar' Obama can now get a green card, and in five years, apply for US citizenship, unless the Department of Homeland Security appeals the case within 30 days." http://b.globe.com/1bHR2j0


@zbyronwolf: @SenatorReid exempted some staffers from Obamacare per @frates - http://cnn.it/189lMIM

@ron_fournier : Not arguing with those who say #Obama is temperamentally unable/unwilling to clean house. Just think he must. Why: nationaljournal.com/white-house

@DickPolman1 : So predictable: When GOPers lose, they try to impeach the Democratic president. When the Yankees lose, they swipe the Red Sox centerfielder.

@RobinRoberts: I'll be easy to spot this morning on @GMA. I'll be the one clinging to @SamChampion's leg screaming: DON'T GO!!! #PartingIsSuchSweetSorrow