Andrew Malcolm hits the nail on the head on the health care fight.
Andrew Malcolm writes for the LA Times, and he has an excellent piece on the plight of the health care reform House members are trying to convince their constituents is a good thing. He picks up on the Achilles Heel the Democrats have on this issue:
At the moment, Obama, as eloquent as he can be, appears to be playing PR defense, trying to prove that what most people have and think they like now in health insurance could possibly maybe not be there someday because of costs they don't now see and don't think they pay.
And as a result, they should jump over to his ill-defined new plan that even dozens of congressional Democrats have doubts over and Republicans and simply anti-Obamites are feeding fears about.
The White House's strategic problem is that the more many Americans learn about the incomplete reforms the less they understand them and, thus, the more they fear them. Which briefcase do you want, the imperfect but familiar one in your hand or another one around the corner that we can't show you right now? Trust us.
While Obama's poll popularity has slipped somewhat, the popularity of his keystone programs has slid dramatically. Now, we fully understand why the president set that early August deadline for a completed bill. His internal polls predicted the kind of coalescing opposition we've seen recently in congressional town halls around the country.
Yes, many are no doubt orchestrated. But no more so than the president's somnolent town halls with campaign volunteers asking questions and instructions e-mailed to millions of supporters with directions on where to go and what to say to members of Congress this month.
Event orchestration is a bipartisan activity that all political outfits attempt; even Hillary Clinton's team planted questions back in Iowa that helped her surge to third place there.
Besides falling tears, TV cameras cannot resist an incoherent demonstrator being hustled out of an arena. Or a red-faced man or woman shouting at some member of Congress who used to live in the home district and now visits during regular recesses to represent Washington back there, rather than the other way around as originally envisioned.
The protesters may well be about disruptive stagecraft. But they wouldn't get so much attention, wouldn't ring true to many, if they also weren't tapping into an invisible and widespread vein of worry and fear, even anger, abroad in the land. Who doesn't know someone just like them suddenly blindsided into hopeless unemployment? Is that a time that families willingly countenance bold change? Or a time to hunker down with the known?
Last winter Obama's urgent haste to sign an expensive economic stimulation package seemed to make sense if further fiscal shrinkage was to be avoided. Ironically, his ongoing cascade of reform programs, all allegedly urgently needed -- and expensive -- seem to add to uncertainty and fears.
And why the rush? Two-hundred-thirty-three years into nationhood and 16 years after Clinton's flopped healthcare plan, what was so crucial about getting one by early August?
Why? A couple of thoughts on that ...
First, we have been watching things unfold, and if some cohesion from his own party doesn't start to emerge, this bill is deader than Davy Jones. Too much is already out in the open for people to see, and Andrew's right -- they're afraid of what they've read. What they know, and their representative's disinterest or obfuscation is what's fueling this backlash.
Second, Democrats know that, traditionally, the president will suffer in his midterm elections. If they can rush this through, the media will provide them with the cover they need when they stand on their record of passing "comprehensive reform for all Americans." Nevermind the fact that just down the road, John and Jane Q. Public are going to be knocked right on their butts when the tax bill comes,
Third, people who have read through the bill recognize what it is. It is single payer, universal coverage just like the president wanted back in 2003 and 2007. (You can view the video here.) That system is exactly the sort they have in Canada and the UK, and it's nothing more than rationing on a wide scale.
It's becoming more and more apparent that the health care plan is in serious trouble. And remember that this bill will have to be reconciled with the other plans being worked on in Congress. This is far from over, but if we continue the pressure on Congress we have a chance of stopping this, or forcing the Democrats to pass it by dirty means, i.e. reconciliation. If they do that, they can kiss 2010 goodbye.