The anti-Obamacare machine that has been so carefully assembled by the Koch brothers and their billionaire boys club would surely blow a gasket. The right-wing echo chamber would go nuclear. And the Republican National Committee, Mitch McConnell and all the senators and contenders who have staked their 2014 prospects on a run against healthcare reform would make a big deal of laughing out loud.
But among the savvier of their number, it might well be a nervous laughter.
What could cause all this consternation?
Democrats have urged departing Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to run for the US Senate from Kansas. A Sebelius spokesperson discounted the prospect, saying she was focused on the transition out of her current job. But The New York Times reported that Sebelius, who served two terms as the Democratic governor of Kansas during the Bush years, was considering the prospect of challenging US Senator Pat Roberts, a relatively drab conservative Republican who is currently facing a primary challenge from a vaguely more interesting conservative Republican.
A Sebelius run remains an unlikely prospect. The outgoing cabinet secretary has been through a lot over the past few months, and the notion of turning around and seeking the Senate from a state that has not elected a Democrat to the chamber since 1932 would definitely qualify as daunting.
Already, there is plenty of think-inside-the-box commentary that dismisses the idea. The purveyors of conventional wisdom at FiveThirtyEight are quick to declare that “Kansas Has Moved on From Kathleen Sebelius.”
“Sebelius for Senate?” a Washington Post headline argues. “It makes no sense.”
That is undoubtedly the case—if the country remains forever locked in November 2013.
But the politics of November 2014 won’t look anything like the politics of November 2013.
Indeed, those who actually turn the pages of their calendars recognize that a lot has already changed since Obama and the Democrats hit the political skids late last year.
The Affordable Care Act, implemented by Sebelius, is now exceeding goals. More than 7 million Americans were signed up by late March. And less than a month later, as noted by President Obama a press conference Thursday, the figure has risen to 8 million. Another 3 million people have enrolled in expanded Medicaid and children’s insurance programs. And the overall number of Americans with healthcare coverage will increase by millions more before the end of 2014.