Washington Post: At what price success?

Peggy Noonan wrote this in her most recent Wall Street Journal column:

pelosi and obama ap at capitol hill.jpg

And so it ends, with a health-care vote expected this weekend. I wonder at what point the administration will realize it wasn't worth it - worth the discord, worth the diminution in popularity and prestige, worth the deepening of the great divide. What has been lost is so vivid, what has been gained so amorphous, blurry and likely illusory. Memo to future presidents: Never stake your entire survival on the painful passing of a bad bill....

Yeah, but she's on our side.

So what does it mean when a friendly, the Washington Post, comes to the same conclusion? From a piece, today...

The lengthy and rancorous debate has inflicted considerable damage on the president and his party. It helped spark the grass-roots "tea party" movement and generated angry town hall meetings last summer that led to some opponents painting Obama as a socialist and a communist for advocating a greater government role in the health-care industry. The issue now is whether final passage of the legislation... will cause more harm or begin a turnaround in the Democrats' fortunes heading toward the November midterm elections....

This is not how the struggle over health care was supposed to unfold. When the president decided last year to push for comprehensive reform, there appeared to be the best opportunity in a generation to ensure that nearly all Americans have access to health insurance. There also seemed to be a consensus among business, labor and health-industry groups that government help was needed to rein in the escalating costs of health care.

A year later, Obama and Democratic congressional leaders are struggling to find the final votes in the House to push the bill through, against united Republican opposition and a country sharply polarized over whether and how health-care coverage should be extended to virtually all Americans....

The political stakes are enormous. Obama's approval ratings are below 50% in several recent polls, and more people disapprove of his handling of health care than approve. The outcome of the debate will stamp his presidency.

Democrats are afraid of failure and nervous about what success could bring. They fear substantial losses in November, with their majorities in the House and Senate possibly at risk if the country turns even more negative toward the administration and its policies. Republicans vow to continue challenging the program at the state and national levels....

Democrats are keenly aware of the risks ahead, which is why it has been so difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to round up the votes. Many Democrats, recalling the debacle after their failure on health care in 1994....

"The political consequences of 1994 took a full decade for the D Party to undo and reverse," said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a domestic policy adviser in the Clinton White House. "If the political consequences of this effort turn out to be as long-lasting as 1994, that would be a very significant price that will have to be weighed in the historical balance."

Such differing interpretations guarantee that even if the bills pass, the fight over health care will continue long afterward. "The division we now have is not going to disappear," [presidential historian Robert] Dallek said. "It's going to be a continuing part of the national debate. This legislation is going to play out over the next 4 or 5 or 6 years."

[Photo of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama on Capitol Hill yesterday by the Associated Press]


Comments:

If this passes, I heard Michelle Bachmann say the government will control almost 50% of the economy (health care, student loans, banks, car companies). As far as the Dems hoping the people will forget, I think local campaign adds with ominous music about the breathe of government control will be devastating above all else. Add a little reference to the IRS checking on all US citizens monthly for appropriate coverage (another Bachmann point that isn't getting much national exposure in media, but can in campaign ads), and no...I don't think the Dems can count on us forgetting anytime soon.

Posted by: Dee at March 21, 2010 6:57 AM


My summation of this whole process:

1) I think the decision to make this a long, public process was a bad one. The GOP does it right when they have big pieces of legislation. The Patriot Act was introduced October 23rd and signed into law the 26th. The Medicare expansion in 2003 was literally passed in the middle of the night after the vote was held open a couple of more hours to twist a couple of arms. I think the Dems should have introduced and passed it quickly without all the back and forth and public spectacle.

2) The GOP does a much better job marketing themselves. The Dems focus on intellectual do-gooder type argument. The GOP simplifies things to short messages and hammers them home.

3) Furthermore, under "what is a Republican" is a short list of fundamental ideas. They stick together and they are much easier to peg. The Democrats have too wide of an umbrella and are too idealistic when it comes to issues like this - and don't stick together as well.

4) The Dems were in trouble in mid-terms anyways. That is what always happens. Furthermore, voter turnout is less in midterms, which helps the GOP. From the get go, it was known the economy would not turn around overnight - which would surely hurt the Dems in midterms (for a little history, Reagan inherited 7.6, and it pushed to 9.8 and held steady a couple of years). So in my opinion, the Dems should have passed something strong (with a public option) and quickly - because that would be the only way to keep enthusiasm up and keep their jobs. I think the GOP balances out both the senate and the house and we get a couple of years of not getting much done (which is okay).

5) The one thing that could help the Dems this November (and this is not my idea - read it in a column yesterday) is if the central thing the GOP is associated with during the next 6 months is a "repeal the bill" effort (if it passes). While it would play well with the right, it would strengthen the left and independents (again, not my idea).

6) Regardless - I think either party would sacrifice a decade of ruling party to usher in a fundamental pillar of their belief system. I mean, what would it be worth for the GOP to outlaw abortion? If they were close on it, but would cost them a couple of elections, there's no doubt that everyone on this board would say it was worth it.

7) At the end of the day, I feel much less enthusiastic about the Dems, and much further even then before from the GOP. When it comes down to it, this whole issue was about health care in the country. Anybody who spends a couple of minutes with the numbers knows that the system is broken and headed in the wrong direction. I haven't met anyone who thinks otherwise.

Reform is needed - both in regards to government spending levels and personal spending levels. It hurts global competition, it hurts the economy and the pocket book of millions of Americans, and quite frankly, it's a joke that a nation of our standing has uninsured people. The lack of health insurance kills people.

At the very beginning though the Dems saw it as a way to push reform, plus some components of their agenda. The GOP dug in their heals and made it about defeating Obama. About two minutes it, it no longer was about the American people - the people who need this.

I'm convinced it is a step in the right direction on reform, but far from what we need. Too many insurance company handouts. I am not convinced of much impact in regards to abortion - the "loopholes" cited seem to be stretches. Furthermore, there is no law changes in regards to access - it is just funding. I know about all on this board will disagree on this point - I just don't see much if any impact in regards to abortion numbers through this (and any increase could balance out against those who now feel they can afford a baby if they have lower insurance rates/better coverage).

8) In regards to abortion, I will continue to say that I think the pro-life movement missed a MASSIVE opportunity (and some pro-choice folks speculated and feared this) - a strong public option with no abortion coverage what-so-ever. Majority of private plans contain abortion coverage - and moving people from that to a government plan without abortion would have been a major shift in politics.

9) Sorry for the long rambling - but this has been a long process that looks like it is finally ending, and I'm glad of that fact. I've appreciated the debate and conversation on this board about the issues. I don't know if it will pass or not - and even if it does, I don't know what will hold up in court. I do believe that it isn't as good as some on the left think this bill is - and it isn't as bad as some on the right think this bill is.

Off to church - should be an interesting day of developments. All that could be said has been said. Let's vote and move on.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at March 21, 2010 8:18 AM



Does a dictator concern himself with what the citizenry wants and thinks? Hardly, that's why he's a dictator.

This is raw power, intimidation, and control displayed by a power mad Marxist who's as close to being a dictator as the American process allows. Our "elected representatives" have shoved their middle fingers under the noses of the American people. They have flaunted the bribes and cheap trinkets it took to get them to sell their votes like a bunch of cheap whores sell sex.

What price success? Indeed. My favorite saying,
"when the gods want to punish man, they answer their prayers so.......be very careful what you wish for" certainly applies here.

I can only see this as happening for a purpose, like the drunk who has to hit skid row before he realizes he has self destructed, so did our nation have to hit bottom as well.

The drunk now has the option to stand up, clean up, and take control of and better his life. So do we, let's hope we do it.

Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 8:57 AM


"I do believe that it isn't as good as some on the left think this bill is - and it isn't as bad as some on the right think this bill is."

I agree. I don't think it's a particularly good Bill. I do know that the Republican naysayers have energized Obama's base. People are angry at the Republicans right now, and that might help in November.

Posted by: Hal at March 21, 2010 9:00 AM


Hal,

Its the Democrat "representatives" that have done more to energize the "Republican base" than anything. Its been the ham handed power of your idol Obama.
At what price success indeed.

Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 9:04 AM


Hal - you are completely right - the generic Gallup poll right now still favors the Dems 47-44 - but the enthusiasm is much stronger on the right. How the next 6 months plays out could be interesting.

I still fall back to point 6 in my long winded rambling. Even if they lose the majorities, it would be worth it to do something that they've tried doing for 40 years.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at March 21, 2010 9:07 AM



Hey, who has said anything about "success"? Check out firedoglake.com.

It ain't over till its over.

Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 9:08 AM


EGV,

It depends on which polls you look at, others favor Republicans.

Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 9:15 AM


maybe this will really push the little guy, the tea party people, the everyday bloke to rise up and shut down this terrible government.

As far as I'm concerned, Pelosi has sealed her fate in the next life. She will have the blood of millions of babies and the degradation of millions of women to account for. And from a Catholic and a woman/mother who should have known better. :(

Posted by: angel at March 21, 2010 9:30 AM


Yesterday was the first day since his presidency that the Foxnexs poll Obama had a greater percentage of people who disapprove then who approve of him. It speaks for itself.

Posted by: truthseeker at March 21, 2010 9:57 AM



The real irony is that a year ago, this bill should have been a shoo-in. So what happened?
Can't blame Republicans, the Democrats had absolute power, in addition to an Obama worshipping media and population.

As Rush said, its like being within centimeters of putting an engagement ring on the love of your life only to have that ring fall, roll away, and get lost.

Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 10:03 AM


maybe this will really push the little guy, the tea party people, the everyday bloke to rise up and shut down this terrible government.
Posted by: angel at March 21, 2010 9:30 AM

It's too bad we can't recall some of these clowns. No matter how the vote goes today, we're still one day closer to the first Tuesday in November :)

The real irony is that a year ago, this bill should have been a shoo-in.
Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 10:03 AM

The stimulus bill shenanigans had a silver lining, didn't they?

Posted by: Fed Up at March 21, 2010 10:33 AM


What price success?

The soul of a nation who have traded common sense, independence, self-reliance, and faith for the comfort of a nanny state.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at March 21, 2010 10:37 AM


health care at the expense of the lives of millions of babies.....
that's what this is.

I wonder how many people will be willing to not file their income tax...due to conscientious objection.??

Posted by: angel at March 21, 2010 12:26 PM


I wonder how many people will be willing to not file their income tax...due to conscientious objection.??

Prolly not the ones who've seen the IRS purchase request for 60 Remingtons :)

Posted by: Fed Up at March 21, 2010 12:35 PM


mods we need to remove the trolls comments.

Posted by: angel at March 21, 2010 12:55 PM



At what price success?

Oh, just look at history and see the terrible price President Lyndon Johnson paid after the "success" of the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave LBJ everything he wanted, that being the unlimited power to conduct the Vietnam War as he saw fit. A war that divided and devastated this country, destroyed LBJ's presidency, and eventually destroyed LBJ.

Need I say more?

A classis example of the gods punishing man by answering their prayers.

Perhaps down the road Obama and the Dems will curse this "success" just as I'm certain LBJ cursed his.

Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 1:31 PM


Yesterday was the first day since his presidency that the Foxnexs poll Obama had a greater percentage of people who disapprove then who approve of him. It speaks for itself.
Posted by: truthseeker at March 21, 2010 9:57 AM

yep, a lot of his base is turning against him for not ramming real health care reform through given his majority in both houses.

He's not losing you guys, you never approved of his job performance. He's losing those who want single payer/Medicare for all.

Posted by: Hal at March 21, 2010 4:07 PM


I agree Hal. Gallup's newest has him back to 50% as well.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at March 21, 2010 4:10 PM


Hal,

What planet do you live on? You do recall that for the past year Obama had both the Congress and Senate, a worshipful media, and adoring public.
So why couldn't he get his agenda through?

Maybe because the majority of Americans, not his base, have fought it tooth and nail. Maybe because we see him for what he is.

Get out of your messianic trance Hal and see this man for what he is instead of trying to "explain" his failings.

Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 4:15 PM


Mary (in response to Hal's note) -

Not if you look at the numbers. There were a lot of people who opposed the bill because it did not go far enough with no public option. A LOT of folks have been saying pass it because it is a start - but not enough cost controls still, and too easy on insurance companies.

President could have and maybe should have started it with his own bill, but it took much longer because he left it to congress - might be a big mistake, might be a good political play in the end - time will tell.

We are all passionate about it, but I still believe more people could tell you about the top 12 American Idol folks than about the health care reform process.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at March 21, 2010 4:18 PM


EGV,

I did look at the numbers. People opposed it, period. Yes some may have opposed it for not going far enough.

Sadly you are correct about people being more knowledgable about the 12 top American idols.

Posted by: Mary at March 21, 2010 4:25 PM


"At what price success?"

Your eternal destiny.

Posted by: Ed at March 22, 2010 8:52 AM


Hal opined:
He's not losing you guys, you never approved of his job performance. He's losing those who want single payer/Medicare for all.

The One also lost a lot of independents. It's all part of the big picture: TARP, bank bailouts, buying car companies, and now the Health Control bill. It's too far, too fast.

Sadly, you could probably get most of the American people to accept Euro-style socialism in time ... but you'd have to be patient. Obama, Pelosi, & Reid grabbed the brass ring now, and there will be a backlash. I only hope and pray that the New Left has finally awakened America to the threat within our own borders.

Posted by: Naaman at March 22, 2010 1:42 PM


Sadly, you could probably get most of the American people to accept Euro-style socialism Posted by: Naaman at March 22, 2010 1:42 PM

Naaman, did you catch Rev Al Sharpton's comment last night?

Posted by: Fed Up at March 22, 2010 3:49 PM


"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?"

Posted by: Louise at March 22, 2010 5:13 PM


Naaman,

When dealing with Hal you must understand he remains in a messianic trance. Any of Obama's failings are, well not really failings.
He's unpopular because of the failure of a single payment system, not because people don't like him.
Just be patient with Hal until he realizes The One is not, well, The One.

Posted by: Mary at March 22, 2010 7:36 PM