Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Half-Baked Political Analysis

I hate to be so cynical, but the health care debate is over and the opponents of reform won. Oh, I believe we'll eventually get something called "reform," but that it will be a watered-down piece of legislation bearing only a passing resemblance to real reform. It will probably be a boondoggle for industry; that always seems to happen when corporate interests and the public interest collide.

The president, Democrats, and those of us praying for reform lost the battle before it even began by not getting out front of the opposition in the race to reach the ill-informed. Rush, Fox News and suspiciously well-funded policy groups transmitted some misinformation that the birthers, the teabaggers and the other disaffected decided passed the "truthiness" test, and turned town hall meetings into scenes reminiscent of the Jerry Springer Show.

Real reform died a quick death as some of the right-wing themes took hold in the public consciousness. There amongst the Twinkies and the theme song to Gilligan's Island, the collective id pondered "death panels" and "rationing" and decided that they weren't sure reform was needed after all.

While the right was framing the debate, President Obama was playing it low key, almost Zen-like, preferring to pass the agenda to Democrats on the Hill. Sure, Obama had a few town halls of his own and a few interviews where he tried to set the record straight, but the damage was done.

And House and Senate Democrats set out to prove Will Rogers right when he said, "No, I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

Of course, a single-payer solution was not even considered and the public option plan melted away in favor of the co-op plan that the Republicans still won't consider. And Democrats keep trying to negotiate a bipartisan solution with Republicans who think the system is just fine the way it is...unless there might be a way to increase the corporate take. And even if the Republicans stayed out of it completely, the fractious Democrats could never be whipped to agree about much of anything.

Obama might be able to turn this thing around. He might one day unleash the resources that got him elected and awaken the public, but I'm not optimistic.

Digby hit the nail on the head...
Watching a Democratic president and a large Democratic majority unwilling to pass decent legislation in the face of the dysfunctional, impotent clownshow that currently calls itself the Republican Party is about the most depressing thing I've seen in all my years observing politics. I can't even imagine how I would feel if I were 20 years younger and a lot less cynical.
as did Krugman...
How will this all work out? I don’t know. But it’s hard to avoid the sense that a crucial opportunity is being missed, that we’re at what should be a turning point but are failing to make the turn.

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

Let's not give up quite yet, Duane. No legislation has actually been passed, and the Democrats DO have a functional congressional majority. I'm still hoping they will wake up and run with it...