Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 20, 2009

REFORM OPPONENTS CAN'T DO IT ALONE.... Last week, in a variety of television appearances, Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina said he'd like to see the health care reform push slow down. DeMint proceeded to tell a conservative conference call what he really hoped to accomplish: "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

Today, RNC Chairman Michael Steele endorsed this approach.

At the end of the address he was asked by the Huffington Post whether he agreed with Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) assessment that health care reform could be Obama's Waterloo -- a chance for the Republican Party to break the president politically. "I think that's a good way to put it," he responded.

There seems to be a pattern. If the right can force a delay, then the right can defeat reform and deliver a serious blow to the White House. It's the strategy GOP consultant and CNN personality Alex Castellanos presented for his party: "If we slow this sausage-making process down, we can defeat it."

Bill Kristol is obviously on board with this, saying today there will be "plenty of time to work [on health care] next year," just so long as Republicans "go for the kill" now.

The strategy is surprisingly transparent -- slow things down, kill real reform, crush Obama.

Now, as a tactical matter, this makes sense. DeMint, Steele, Castellanos, and Kristol are Republicans, who a) don't support health care reform; and b) are committed to undermining the majority party and the president. Opposition parties are supposed to oppose, so these characters are playing their appropriate role. (The real-world consequences for Americans and their families would be devastating, of course, if the GOP approach is successful, but I'm speaking only to the political strategy.)

I just like to point out, from time to time, that these folks can't succeed on their own. They simply don't have the votes. They can call for delays, changes, watered down bills, obstructionism, etc., but Democrats are in a position to finally reform health care anyway.

The only way for this Republican strategy to succeed -- literally, the only way -- is for Democrats to help them. The GOP has its plan, but no way to execute it effectively. They've already been turned out by the electorate.

Success or failure of health care reform will be dependent entirely on whether members of the governing party side with members of the minority party.

Steve Benen 2:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Comments

Yeh perfect - Kill something that will help make people's lives easier. Why do they hate Americans so much.

Posted by: John R on July 20, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, my Democratic congressman is a Blue Dog and one that is more than willing to step aside for the minority party. I've written letters, but I feel like I'm alone. It's frustrating, to say the least.

Posted by: Chris on July 20, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

The corrupt DINO's and corporate money whores have already been put on notice that we know what they're up to and we're watching them like hawks. The tap-tap ads are already in circulation and seem to be having the desired effect in some cases.

Let's keep the pressure on until the job is done, people. So far so good, but it ain't over yet.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on July 20, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I have already sent a pointed letter to my Representative (Rick Larson - WA). I let him know that me and many other progressives would be watching him and that his recent press release against the public option was being duly noted. While I hope that he has a change of mind, if he does not, I said, I am happy to work hard for a primary challenger and/or his defeat.

I am tired of DINOs. If we are going to have a Republican in policy votes, why bother to vote for him? I never could stand his middle of the road DINO bull any way...

Posted by: Elie on July 20, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yeh perfect - Kill something that will help make people's lives easier.

But which people? Your Blue Dog is performing constituent service, after all.

It could be his golf buddies, people just like the people he went to school with, the largest employer in his district, the Chamber of Commerce, everyone in your district who's not Them....

When you're in the House of Representatives, all that that means is that you're representing, it doesn't say much about whom you're representing.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 20, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

If health reform doesn't pass now, ie. with a public plan, then why support the Democrats? I have voted Democratic for 37 years, but if this goes down, then my attitude is the Democratic Party can go to hell.

Posted by: Conrad T. on July 20, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Success or failure of health care reform will be dependent entirely on whether members of the governing party side with [strike]members of the minority party[/strike] their corporate overlords.

Fixed for accuracy.

Posted by: Gregory on July 20, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Opposition parties are supposed to oppose, so these characters are playing their appropriate role.


Steve, stop encouraging the Republicans. After all, that rule certainly was not even acceptable when congress and the White House was under Republican control.

If my memory serves me right, Opposition was considered treasonous and un-American.

Hint: mention the hypocritical standard when it comes to 'opposition'.

Posted by: bruno on July 20, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it admitting a little too much that Republicans want to see health reform fail for partisan purposes?

Posted by: Christopher on July 20, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

David X.

The sad thing is that many employers could really lower their costs and increase their competitiveness by not having to pay for healthcare benefits. I find it baffling that so many of them seem to want to continue to pay for these benefits. I don't actually think that is true, but the misdirection of the insurance companies and the media trying to set Obama back on his game, is clouding the reality of what is happening. This is a campaign of appearances and innuendo rather than facts.

Healthcare reform will HAVE to happen -- just the shape it takes and when. Change however, has to happen. The only group that actually has a vested interest (indeed is desperate) in failure is the Republicans who are making a last stand to stay at least minimally relevant...

Posted by: Elie on July 20, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats are smart, they'll go nuclear and skip the 60-vote Senate supermajority bullshit to enact reform immediately. Yes, the GOP may retaliate when they regain power. But once reform is up and running, it's never going back. Realistically, what's the worst thing Republicans could do to retaliate?

Again, that's if the Democrats are smart. I'm betting against it.

Posted by: beejeez on July 20, 2009 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Say it loudly, often, and to all our representatives - WE WANT HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS PAID FOR BY THE SUPER RICH!

Yes, say it again to everyone who hasn't bothered to listen yet - WE WANT HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS AND WE WANT IT THIS YEAR!

Why are the media facilitating the voices of Card, Kristol, and Steele when each has proven the siren of canard too many times ago to be taken seriously?

Call, write, email, or shout it out to your elected representatives - WE WILL VOTE YOU OUT OF OFFICE IF YOU SQUANDER THIS OPPORTUNITY TO GET AMERICANS HEALTH CARE! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on July 20, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

The battle is set: the "Selfish" (GOP + blue dogs) vs "Selfless" (progressives).

While the Selfless are a whopping majority in real America, they are split about 50-50 in the Senate. It remains to be seen who will win.

Posted by: Ohioan on July 20, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

many employers could really lower their costs and increase their competitiveness by not having to pay for healthcare benefits

It's an on-balance argument. UHC might, maybe must, lower their costs, but an energized and efficacious Democratic congress could be a pain in the ass in a hundred other ways.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 20, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Dunno how the votes line up, but I expect quite a few Dems are askeered to pass a health care reform bill. It's an easily demagogued issue, and I can imagine a general anti-welfare type sentiment that could be exploited here.

Imagine the right-wingers implying this will lead to free healthcare for "illegals" or "welfare queens" in their cadillacs taking their brood to the doctor's office en masse, paid for by the hard-working, lunchpail, blue-collar workers' taxes.

The vast majority of voters *have* private insurance or Medicare, and may not be really happy with it, but also afraid of things changing. While the facts are on Obama's side, it will take a good job of selling and education to make the public want it *enough* that their chicken-shit representatives fear a backlash from opposing it (more than they fear industry campaign donations drying up).

To pass, we are expecting people to pay attention for at least 2 whole minutes of education, to see through the upcoming oppositions' lying propaganda campaign, AND for cowardly, self-interested politicians to believe that the public will them responsible at the ballot box.

Seems too much to ask - I predict a public option will NOT pass.

Posted by: flubber on July 20, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

This whole battle over healthcare [as well as the economy, the environment, etc.] is like watching a baseball game being played without a baseball.

The people on both sides are going through all the motions they're expected to: pretending to pitch and catch and swing and hit and run. Everyone wants to see a real game. They want every play to matter and the want their team to win. But, they're just going through the motions. No one is really doing anything.

In fact, nothing will happen with healthcare at all until someone, anyone, finds some fucking balls.

Posted by: chrenson on July 20, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Traitor dems must pay the price!

Posted by: demoraptor on July 20, 2009 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

De Mint, by being so blatant about the GOP's motives, would seem to have made it more, rather than less, difficult for Conservadems to support the GOP slowdown. But then, he's never been one of the sharper GOPers in Congress. What is it about South Carolina and their elected officials?

Posted by: Mimikatz on July 20, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

So, how's that bi-partisan shit been working lately?

Posted by: beep52 on July 20, 2009 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I have voted Democratic for 37 years, but if this goes down, then my attitude is the Democratic Party can go to hell.

This generally reflects my sentiments; however, the Republicans have proven that things could be worse.

Posted by: qwerty on July 20, 2009 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I see a lot of comments that Dems with pay the price if health care is not passed.

Great, maybe these people were happy, afterall, with the way the past 8 years have changed America.


***Waiting, counting the days until I move to the Caribbean.

Posted by: annjell on July 20, 2009 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

You go people, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

That's right, you give up on Dems because they can't jump through hoops to correct the destruction the GOP leaves behind. You wan't the Dems to jump at your command, yet, take the abuse the GOP dish out and stay mum.

Gotta love America(ns).

Posted by: annjell on July 20, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

No amount of lipstick will save this pig

Posted by: Neo on July 20, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, those who are "whining" that if they don't get what they want like a spoiled brat,

go ahead, I'm sure Patsy, Limpy, Mutt will be waiting with open arms for you to give them your vote.

I know it sounds like I am being harsh, but, I'm going to say it, maybe, just maybe, you belong with the people who want to use and abuse you. Maybe you need people to control you and tell you what to do. Maybe you need people to yell at you to put some pep in your step. We are not holding you against your will - go!

Posted by: annjell on July 20, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

I like sausage.

If you slow it down too much it rots.
Let's not do that.

Posted by: MarkH on July 20, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not underestimate the ability of Democrat politicians to do exactly the wrong thing in all of this. These are the people who gave us 8 years of Bush by putting forward the two worst Presidential candidates in living memory; I'd still put money on them to trip on the steps up to victory and break their teeth.

Obama needs to be putting in the calls - if you're a Democrat, and you support reform, the Democratic Party will support you all the way. If not, you are absolutely going to face a primary and the President will support whoever chooses to stand against you.

Posted by: ally on July 21, 2009 at 6:14 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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