Someone please explain to me why a bunch of House Democrats are more afraid of making Republicans sad than letting their party’s most important agenda item collapse.
It simply amazes me that Democrats could last eight years of frantically chasing whatever the hell Republicans want to talk about that week as if the Earth will crash into the sun if America don’t solve whatever problem right now and act as if they slept through the whole thing. Remember how putting aside whatever you were doing for what felt like a solid month to argue whether we should invent some new government power to stop one man in Florida from letting his brain dead wife pass on? Then there was the time Republicans convinced a swath of America that stretched from Fred Hiatt to Tom Friedman to Matt Yglesias that if we didn’t attack Iraq tomorrow Saddam Hussein might hit the east coast with radioactive al Qaeda terrorists dropped from remote control planes powered by biological weapons! You know how they did that? Sales. Whatever crappy policy the Republicans wanted to pass, they sold the hell out of it. We can agree that Republicans couldn’t govern their way out of a room with no walls, no floor and no ceiling, but god knows they could sell.
Watching Democrats try to fix health care I see a photo negative of the Bush years. Here is an issue with obvious urgency. Setting aside our shameful infant mortality rate, uninsured rate and other statistics, medical bills are by far the leading cause of personal bankruptcies. Insurer misconducy wrecks lives every day in every city in America. The right options are obvious and relatively few in number. Huge majorities support doing the right thing.
Even self-interest is similarly one sided. Remember how much Republicans invested in realigning the destroying Social Security? Imagine if they had an issue that would realign the country in their favor and instead of huge majorities violently hating it, most Americans strongly supported what they wanted to do. Republican strategists would give two of their first three kids for a shot at an issue with this much going for it.
I think about the GOP still desperately searching for even one family farm killed by the inheritance tax. Then I read nyceve’s wrenching work at Kos describing Americans deliberately murdered by insurance bureaucrats every day of the year. I dare you to read even one of nyceve’s diaries, particularly the murder by spreadsheet series, and not walk away convinced that private insurers should consider themselves lucky to have any place at all in a sensibly designed health care system. Then I turn on mainstream dialogue like the Sunday shows (three Republicans…Newt…Tom Daschle agreeing that public health care is crazy) and I start feeling like the issue doesn’t really matter that much.
Democratic politicians have dropped on this issue. I hear that Obama supports the public option. That would mean more if it felt even a little more urgent than his idea that we should have a college football playoff series. Ted Roosevelt didn’t call it the bully pulpit because it lets you chat on the radio for five minutes a week.
Congressional Democrats who wet their trousers at the thought of legislating without permission from Republicans are an order of magnitude worse. The liberal media is AWOL. When was the last time you saw a third party ad on TV that made you feel anything at all?
Anyone who can find evidence of message coordination on this issue wins a prize. Hell, I’ll give partial credit for proof that Democrats went into this with a coherent sense of what they want. Belaboring the obvious, people who care about what they’re doing normally enter negotiations with some firm goal in mind. Most would agree that it is moronic to make negotiating itself the point. Yet how is that any different from kicking off a ‘health care reform’ initiative without any firm idea of what the reform will entail? Reform is a process. Pick a goal and fight for it.
In my opinion, if Democrats cannot treat even a half-victory like the public plan as more important than Mitch McConell’s anguished, fake tears then they don’t deserve to win.