The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romneyâ€™s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.
Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise â€“ without weighing so heavily on small business â€“ without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.
No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the â€œdoughnut holeâ€ and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parentsâ€™ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there â€“ would President Obama sign such a repeal?
We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or â€“ more exactly â€“ with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?
It’s a little sad to note that what now passes for a responsible conservative thinks that the bill would be improved by being easier on the rich and not so helpful to the poor. But the underlying analysis is correct: Obama chose to pursue health care reform in rather conservative-friendly ways, and had the hand of friendship rudely slapped aside. Amost all right-wing discourse about health care reform so far has consisted of denying that simple truth.
It would be as foolish for any conservative or Republican to take political advice from me as it would have been for Democrats to take political advice from Newt Gingrich or Mitch McConnell. Â But David Frum has conservative Republican chops. Perhaps his advice deserves to be listened to.
16 thoughts on ““… and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat””
Sorry, but no one needs to listen to David Frum wringing his hands about 'the most radical voices' in his party and 'conservative talkers … [whipping] the Republican voting base into such a frenzy'. This is the same David Frum who called Jimmy Carter a 'traitor' on national radio after Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. The 'sadness' is that Frum is what passes now for a 'responsible conservative'. If he wants to rehabilitate himself, he needs to spend a few more years wandering in the desert.
"But David Frum has conservative Republican chops. Perhaps his advice deserves to be listened to."
Well, the GOP has not been conservative for quite some time.
Also, see the 'reasonable person' Megan McArdle's Chicago whackjob post:
When you read this, ask yourself if her post reflects the recent history of the GOP, in 2009-10, in 2000-2008, and in 1993-2000. IMHO, it doesn't. Then review her columns in The Atlantic, and ask yourself if her writing reflects an honest, informed viewpoint, or the viewpoint of somebody being paid to dishonestly oppose healthcare reform (a la the soon-to-be Mr. McArdle is being paid).
As Maurice says, Frum's did some really scuzzy things in the early 00s. But he's about the only R voice demanding the Rs be sane and responsible, and the country really needs both parties to be sane.
Don't look now but it ain't over till it's over.
As for Republicans wising up and playing honest ball I don't think they can stand the thought. They can't forget that they had the hundred year majority sewed up in a bag. Now those lousey socialists stole what was theirs and the President is a… It's just too much to stand!
Now when (if) this bill passes go right to Medicare for anyone who wants to buy in (by that acursed reconciliation) and they can hold a wake for the GOP. Yeah right. That's gonna happen. Can't expect them to be that smart.
I am not sure what Frum means. He seems to be saying that those who adopted extreme paranoid rhetoric in trying to defeat health care reform will somehow pay a political price for their folly. He seems to fear that the wingnuts will lose political credibility if the reform process is successful.
I don’t see why this will be the case. Ronald Reagan, after all, warned before the passage of Medicare that it would mean that “one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free." The Hearst newspapers, who warned in 1936 that Social Security meant that Americans would have to go around wearing dog tags around their necks, remained prosperous for decades thereafter.
In a just world, Reagan and Hearst would have paid a price for their flights from reality. In a just world, Mitch McConnell, Sarah Palin, and Fox News would pay a heavy political price for their delusional invective of the past several months. Maybe I am not understanding Frum’s point, but I see no reason for the GOP to fear that reality will punish their paranoia anytime soon.
We really need a solid electoral shattering of the Republican Party, like another 2008 series of elections in close sequence following the actual 2008 elections, to really break their paranoia and fanaticism. That's what did it last time, in the Great Depression – repeated, brutal electoral defeats created some seriously moderate Republicans.
Shouldn't be hard to shatter the Republicans, now that we have gone "totalitarian" and they have all been sent to the gulag. Limbaugh may try to escape to Costa Rica, but one of Obama's henchmen will track him doen and put an ice pick in his brain (if they can find it).
Um, "Dogs, would you live forever?" Make up your mind.
This may be more about getting money and press attention back to Frum and former republican-establishment types like him than about actual policy. Because (as people on the left have complained) there's very little in this bill that's actually more liberal than what the GOP in its lucid moments has claimed to want.
Brett B, that line was invoked to say people should fight with every last breath – for their principles, not for lies and nonsense. And they should also be ready to compromise for their principles.
Well, Sen. McCain has just said that from now on, there will be no more Mr. Nice Guy from the GOP.
We all knew there would be hell to pay if the House passed health care reform, but I never dreamed it would be anything this bad. The Dems should have whimpered and caved after all.
"I am not sure what Frum means. He seems to be saying that those who adopted extreme paranoid rhetoric in trying to defeat health care reform will somehow pay a political price for their folly."
I don't think he's talking about political prices. I think – strange though it may be to some – he's actually talking about policy rather than politics, suggesting that if the GOP had participated in the process in good faith, they could have moved the bill somewhat to the right in a way that he (though not I) thinks would have improved it in practical rather than political terms. This is another thing that makes him a rare species across the political spectrum.
Team: we've just made a first down on our own 40 yard line. The alternative would have been to lose possession. Meanwhile the crack-addled cheerleaders on the other side are screaming that we're lining up the next play on *their* 2 yard line. They can scream themselves hoarse if they want to. In the real world, we are all still sitting closer to their goal than to ours.
The Republicans are "all in" on their 24×7 hissy-fit strategy. Only a thumping in November will influence the ideological fanaticism from the Confederacy … er … Republican party. Since job growth will likely remain disappointing this year, I expect the Republicans to gain some seats. This means continued crack-addled rhetoric at least until November 2012.
It's no accident that the Party of Projection is spewing totalitarian, militaristic metaphors. They say the Democrats are on a 'suicide mission' or a 'banzai charge' because this is precisely their level of commitment to taking the governing initiative back from the Democratic infidel: Win or Die!
Democratic leaders better hustle through their victory lap and man the barricades. The next banzai charge is coming soon.
Mark: "It’s a little sad to note that what now passes for a responsible conservative thinks that the bill would be improved by being easier on the rich and not so helpful to the poor. "
That's worth emphasizing – Frum is one of the better guys they've got, both in analysis and ethics, and ethically he's – well, the sort of guy who feels that the rich have too little money, and that the rest of us have too much.
Mark: “It’s a little sad to note that what now passes for a responsible conservative thinks that the bill would be improved by being easier on the rich and not so helpful to the poor. ”
It's not that sad – you sort of *expect* responsible conservatives to believe that. It's a selfish view and a bit morally off but it's internally consistent with their historical thinking and he could probably articulate reasons to support it (incorrect reasons, but reasons nonetheless). Very 1980s. I'd tolerate a lot of "let's tax the rich less" rhetoric in exchange for not having quite as much "the evil one will bring death panels upon us all" rhetoric.
Buh bye, Frum! Didn't take long for AEI to terminate the dissenter.
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