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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Winning is the same in every endeavor, in all fields. You're never as good as you look when you are winning and you're never as bad as you look when you are losing. Health care reform has passed, but it was a near thing. A week ago people thought that Obama might be a one term president, now he is a world beater. A week ago people thought that the Democratic majority in Congress was doomed, now maybe not so much. A week ago it looked like the strategy to get this thing passed had been bungled, and now it appears brilliant. It does seem to me that the Republicans overplayed their hand. By making this an all or nothing proposition they went all in when they didn't have to, and now they appear irrelevant. Conservative Democrats demonstrated how negotiating leverage works-- they'll be the ones who get the credit for the compromises that their Republican peers might have forced if the Republicans had been interested in governing instead of political posturing. David Frum says that the bill passed because the Republicans "overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure." Maybe so. Frum also says that the bill is a "defeat for free-market economics and Republican values" even though, "the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big." I'm not sure what that means, but I think it means that even Frum, who is usually smarter than most most members of the conservative entertainment industry, is a little confused by the distinction between politics and governance. I'm not so sure that there are any moderate Republicans left in Congress, but if there are now would be a good time to start trying to cut some deals with the majority. The Democrats have demonstrated that when they have to they can get something done, and it looks like they are going to try and do some more before November. Immigration reform is apparently next, a good opportunity for actual bipartisan legislation. Cap and trade is also probably high on the agenda.

A week ago nobody seemed to remember that Obama had pulled the world economy back from the brink, but now he has two significant marks in the Win column. Of course, Bush accomplished what he set out to do too-- the difference being that what George wanted to do was attack Iraq. It looks to me as though Obama's plan is going to work out better for most people.

A win's a win, but you know what? It's still a lousy bill, and it's a damn shame that the best we can do. "The health care bill's greatest accomplishment is that it brought out some of the very worst of America for the rest of the world to see at the most base level possible, and truth is a virtue you can't legislate. To put it in blunt terms, America put the weight of health care of people they don't have to give a shit about on themselves. And some people in America have a problem with that because they'd rather see those people die than pay a small penance for them to live." What I'm hoping is that it's a start, and that down the road a bit we can build on it. Single payer is probably a generation away, but we should be able to get a public option at some point in the fairly near future.

| Comments:
As the prayer goes, "From your lips to God's ears".

Our dilemma is that our usually fairly reliable, Democratic Congressman voted "No". He will be running this fall against one of 2 Republicans selected in a primary next month and BOTH of them are pure horrors. The one is a former marine who was tried for a civilian's murder in Iraq and managed to beat the rap although he certainly sounded guilty to me and the other is so right wing he is almost incoherrant.
 

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