Friday, August 21, 2009

Seeing the Enemy's Weakness

It's always easier to see your own difficulties than to see anyone else's, because they're so much bigger for you. More real. And when you're in a fight, it's easy to focus on every setback you face while over-emphasizing your enemy's strengths and attacks. Particularly when your enemy uses their own setbacks as reasons to double-down and hit harder. The fight always seems harder from your perspective.

And that's something that really bugs me when dealing with liberals when the chips are down. We're riding on top of the world, and then a few bad news days happen and I'm deluged with libs who insist that we're always losing, we deserve to lose, and it might be better for us in the long run if we lose. And when I try to argue how good things are for us and that we're not losing, I'm derided as naive and mocked for being an Obamabot because I think he's doing a good job.

And after it turns out I was right about everything, do I get any credit for it? No, they all slither back into the woodwork, awaiting the day when they can finally pull us into the wilderness.

An Independent Lot

And then you see things from the other side. Senator DeMint and Representative Bachmann had a conference call in which they complained about how difficult it is for conservatives. And that's a story I can understand, seeing as how the topic du jour is how Obama is going to create better healthcare and the best these freaks can do is lie about the plan. For as much as they're on the offensive on this particular issue right now, the entire debate is part of our offensive on them.
DeMint explained that conservative people are, by their nature, an independent-minded lot who value their personal freedom. "The Democrats have a different constituency," said DeMint. "The groups supporting them all want more centralized control at the federal level, whether it's energy or health care. So they have united, binding their grievances."

A few minutes later, Bachmann also chimed in on this theme. "The level of organization on the left is far superior to that on the right," she said. "But I would think that just as we saw a historic shift in the electorate last fall, we are seeing another historic shift, at Mach speeds, occurring in United States."

Of course, the "independent-minded" part of that is a laugh. As one commenter there joked, "Right - it is so much easier to organize blacks, latinos, gays, repro rights activists, etc than it is to organize southern, white men." Booyah.

The Losing Strategy

But overall, I can certainly understand why they think it's so hard. After all, they got trounced in the last two elections and don't have any real plan for getting back in the saddle. Meanwhile, all the libs calling us "losers" and attacking Dem leaders as being weak are just upset that we're not using our majorities to act the way that Republicans acted when they were in charge; as if that turned out great.

Of course, the Bush Powerhouse is vastly exaggerated by the liberal doom-mongers, which is all part of their "We Suck" campaign. Not only couldn't Republicans kill Medicare as they wanted; they gave it a drug plan! For as dangerous as the Bushies were, they had very few legislative accomplishments. That's a fact you'll rarely hear from these people. Bush had to rely on presidential fiat to screw things up, as his rubber-stamp Congress still couldn't get much done. Similarly, Nixon's foes thought he was still invincible right before he resigned. The one thing Republicans are good at is bluffing and appearing stronger than they are.

Yet, the Republican Congress seemed all-powerful to them, which means we're "losers" for not stiff-arming them at every turn. They feel that strategy is a sign of weakness and if you try to suggest that Obama has a strategy, you're a naive Obamabot with no credibility. And if he can't strong-arm the Blue Dog Dems and Centrists into supporting the strongest version of his plan, then he's a weak sell-out who doesn't deserve their support.

Always Bad News

And the worst part about this is how they sift through every news story looking for clues to prove that Obama has screwed up. And we saw that after the Republican Convention last year, when Palin helped McCain steal the news cycle and these people gnashed their teeth about how Obama needed to come out fighting because McCain was catching up. And here we are a year later and they're still demanding that Obama start fighting, forgetting that his strategy worked miracles that weren't possible by the rules they were using.

Because again, their problem isn't that he's not giving them the policies they want, but that he's not giving them the politics they want. They want the Fighting Jesus, not the Peaceful Jesus; and all this strategy and nuance is driving them batty. Perhaps that's why they remember the Clinton Era as being better than it was. He wasn't much of a liberal, but he sure gave them a helleva fight.

And so they insist that we always lose and Republicans always win; evidence to the contrary. And so it's nice to get a peek of the other side and see what they're worrying about. And sure, this isn't an easy fight we're in, but bullying Dems into following Obama will most assuredly backfire. And from a strategic standpoint, I would never trade our position for their's. I said that before we beat them in 2006, and our position is even stronger now. Not just because we have the majority, but because they've got nothing. The entire Conservative Movement was nothing but smoke & mirrors from the beginning, and the smoke clouded the mirrors up a long time ago.

We might have trouble passing the new Medicare into law, but remember, Republicans would much rather we be killing the old one. Even if the debate is tough, it's still on our turf. We shouldn't forget that. And for as much as Republicans want to do to Obama what they did to Clinton, Clinton still won re-election and will remain more popular than either of their last two presidents ever will. And I remain confident that things will turn out much better this time.


Betsy said...

Once again, thank you for your clear headed and intelligent analysis. You keep me centered.

PS the word verification spelled "deralum". Sounds like a new drug to me! Something soothing maybe...

ex DLB said...

The GOP makes the Borg Collective look independent minded. Thanks for the dose of reality, Doc.

Mike Goldman said...

The Republican party is built on a bluff and operated on the same principle. I have no objections to Barack Obama's straightforward approach as long as he continues to show his spine when needed. I always preferred the public option approach (although originally termed it open enrollment Medicare for all) to single-payer, at least transitionally. I would *personally* feel uncomfortable to lose my present coverage before knowing *exactly* what coverage I was trading for. And if I can't feel comfortable, I can't persuade anyone else why it's a good idea either. No, this isn't about me, but a whole lot of people who are similarly situated. Many, many people would be uncomfortable with such a prospect.

So he went with his clearest best idea, and people on the left screamed because he didn't offer up single payer to begin with.

But if he tries to give up the public option, it's our job not to allow that. As Howard Dean has said, the public option is the only real reform in the package. If the final bill were some kind of private insurance mandate, without a public option, a big welfare check to the insurance companies that are nothing but parasites to begin with, it just couldn't get support on the left, in fact it will be strongly opposed from both sides and nothing will pass.

His comments last week that he would give up the public option for some other insurance reforms has triggered demands he hold the line. That may have been his intention. I will always give him the benefit of such doubt when his methods yield the necessary result. But it is still our responsibility to hold him to his.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Mike - Wow, in all this talk about single-payer, I really wasn't thinking about it in a real-world situation. But yeah, I don't want to lose my health insurance either. I've had bad insurance in the past, but don't have many complaints right now. Not that I think government insurance sucks or anything, but I DEFINITELY think making it optional was the way to go.

As for Obama, I really don't think they were signaling that they were going to drop the public option, but rather, were merely speaking hypothetically that they might be willing to for other concessions. And in normal political-speak, that can be a trick; but I don't think it was meant that way and they were speaking literally and not in code. And did Obama actually say that? News happens too fast these days and I might have missed it, but I didn't think he actually said that. But I could be wrong.

Overall, I just have faith that Obama's a smart dude who realizes that his butt is on the line and is trying to finagle the best option that anyone could get us. Obama has worked political miracles that others thought were impossible, so if he couldn't do it, no one can.

Beyond all that, the House leaders have INSISTED that they can't pass a bill without a public option, and I think that's a far more influential thing than anything Baucus' committee is working on. I think they realize how important a public-option is to making this a success.

BTW, the naysayers have now backed off the line saying that Obama will let the public option drop, and are now predicting that he'll just make it inadequate. And so I think the biggest wave of fear has now passed. For as much as I think the Republican's Always Bluff strategy leads to huge strategic blunders, I really wish certain libs could avoid peeing themselves until the shit hits the fan.

Mike Goldman said...

I'm willing to have the public option be fairly bare-bones. I think if people want to pay more for private hospital rooms and things that aren't absolutely necessary to health care but are personal comfort issues, etc., there is definitely something there that the private companies can offer which we don't need to make a guaranteed benefit.

Plus there are so many kinds of alternative health and other ways of improving quality of life that health care providers can offer members. I have Kaiser Permanente and they do have programs like this, though they are not-for-profit.

Basically, though, they have to find a way to offer a better product to their customers at a competitive price. And that's how it should work. It shouldn't be a matter of negotiating life and death, since you should be guaranteed health care through the public plan if you don't want the upgrades.