Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let's all get angry about healthcare!

Eugene Robinson thinks he has the solution to the Dems political conundrum on health care. More heat and anger! Yeah, that's exactly what the left needs. Excerpts and commentary below.

Here's the least surprising news of the week: Americans are souring on the Democratic Party. The wonder is that it's taken so long for public opinion to curdle.

My sentiments exactly.

There's nothing agreeable about watching a determined attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Oh, I find it quite agreeable, thank you.

A poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center reports that just 49 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the Democrats, compared to 62 percent in January and 59 percent in April.

This happens every time you have a new president.

This doesn't mean, though, that Americans look any more kindly upon the Republican Party -- favorability for the GOP has been steady at 40 percent throughout the year, according to Pew.

This also happens every time. You would have to be an idiot to be surprised by the information contained in this paragraph.

What it does mean, however, is that Republican efforts to obstruct, delay, confuse, stall, distort and otherwise impede the reform agenda that Americans voted for last November have had measurable success.

No. What it means is that the reform agenda, in action, had little measurable impact. Remember how the government spent a trillion dollars a while back, and it didn't do what Obama said it was going to?

And it means that Democrats, having been given a mandate -- one as comprehensive as either party is likely to enjoy in this era of red-vs.-blue polarization -- don't really know how to use it.

This era of polarization might also be referred to as the entire history of American politics. But I certainly agree that Democrats don't know what the hell they are doing.

That the Democratic Party is no paragon of organization and discipline is almost axiomatic.

And completely untrue of this administration, which ran the most organized, disciplined campaign in the history of U.S. Politics.

That's not the problem.

Right. It's not the problem. Because it isn't true.

The Pew poll suggests that the Democrats' weakness is neither strategic nor tactical, but emotional. To quote the poet William Butler Yeats: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

I'll simply give Robinson the benefit of the doubt and assume he pulled this quote out of some book of quotations, rather than having seriously studied its origins. Suffices to say, this is precisely the opposite image from that which Democrats want to be projecting at this juncture.

There's not enough passion on the Democratic side, not enough heat.

I beg to differ.

Republicans, by contrast, have little going for them except passion -- but they're using it to impressive effect.

Above, you said we have stalling, obstruction and confusion. I would add to that list the Congressional Budget Office, American's disinclination to embrace federal intrusion re: personal health, the fact that Obama's VP is a moon unit who is no longer allowed out of the house... Oh, and that "health care" press conference Obama used to call out a police officer for no politically tenable reason.

Step back from the health care debate for a moment and survey the landscape.

That's what you spent the last several paragraphs doing.

Democrats are within sight of a goal that has fired the party's dreams for half a century.

This is an awkward re-introduction of the "heat" theme, but okay.

They have the power to enact meaningful reform. Polls show that Americans are hungry for reform.

Which again, when was the last time a poll suggested Americans were hungry for the status quo?

Yet somehow we've gotten sidetracked onto an argument about "death panels,"

Somehow? Is Mr. Robinson unclear as to how this happened? Allow me to illuminate him. Sarah Palin wrote an incendiary opinion piece in the hope of drawing attention to herself. The Democratic party, anxious to keep alive the "Palin is an idiot meme", went on the attack, thus drawing attention to her comments.

How could this happen?

If you don't know, you have no business writing for the Washington Post.

The Pew survey suggests, basically, that Republicans are more passionate about the health care issue than Democrats.

Nope. It suggests that people aren't really excited about Obama's reform plan.

According to Pew, those who would be "pleased" if health care reforms proposed by Obama and Congress are enacted outnumber those who would be "disappointed."

In other words, people aren't really excited about Obama's reform plan.

But when you look at those who feel most passionately about the issue, just 15 percent say they would be "very happy" if the reforms go through, while 18 percent say they would be "angry."

In other words, people aren't really excited about Obama's reform plan.

Among Republicans, a full 38 percent would be angry if health care reform finally passes -- but among Democrats, just 13 percent would be angered if it doesn't.

" " ", " " " " " " " "

It's hard to argue that anger, per se, is something we need more of in American politics.

So why not take a flimsy stab at doing so?

But passion -- which sometimes, yes, finds expression in anger -- is a powerful and legitimate tool.

So, anger, per se, is a powerful and legitimate tool and, therefore, something we need more of in American politics.

Health care reform is something the Democratic Party has been trying to achieve since the Truman administration, and only 13 percent of Democrats would be angry if it fails?

Yep. Reason being, there are more ideological Republicans than Democrats. Most Democrats like their insurance just fine, and so this issue doesn't impact them. Absent ideology and personal interest, it's tough to muster anger.

Only 27 percent of Democrats would be "very happy" if reform passes, according to Pew, while 42 percent could only bestir themselves to feel "pleased" that the Grail long sought by the most beloved Democrat of all, ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, has finally been attained?

Ted Kennedy is the most beloved Democrat of all? The dude who drowned his secretary and generally is considered to be something of a walking (well, not anymore) punchline? Why was he never able to secure his party's nomination for the presidency, so beloved as he was/is?

Here's a poll question to which the answer will never be 'yes':

Does Sen. Kennedy's illness impact your anger level regarding health care reform?

One reason for this imbalance of passion about health care reform, I believe, is that there still is no single piece of legislation

This has absolutely nothing to do with it.

But it's impossible to deny that the Republican strategy of generating anger and fear has also been a major factor.

Well, that, and the fact that Obama sold this as a sort of pseudo-stimulus until the Congressional Budget Office called him out on his BS, which, btw, happened well before any of the town hall protests, and which led him to hold that disastrous press conference where he absurdly accuse doctors of stealing our children's precious tonsils before pivoting to his cop-related cataclysm, which led to that bizarre beer summit that made this whole presidency seem kinda like a weird prank and assuredly played some role in people's lack of anger re: health care reform. So there's that.

Where are the millions who so passionately chanted "Yes, we can!" at Obama's campaign rallies?

Mr. Robinson, I give you your 13%.

Where are the legions who cried tears of joy on Election Night and tears of pride on Inauguration Day?

In Ohio, sobering up.

Is Sarah Palin now the only politician capable of inspiring "passionate intensity"?

Apparently. She certainly gets the left riled up.

Passion finds expression in anger, but also in hope.

A nice sentiment that has nothing to do with what you just wrote.

Democrats knew and felt that during the campaign.

Yeah, it was kind of part of the slogan.

If they forget it, they might as well also forget about achieving the kind of fundamental change that the country sorely needs.

Alternately, they could spend less time sputtering about hope, fear, and other emotions that have absolutely nothing to do with policy. Maybe it's time to stop pretending Obama is some sort of wizard and actually learn how to defend your positions to independents, who are, as yet, unpersuaded by the "Sarah Palin is a stupidhead argument.

And, dude, Eugene. Don't quote Yeats anymore. That makes ME angry.


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