September 1, 2009

Clever ideas don't matter. Philosophy matters...

Robert Reich, On healthcare, Democrats need to be like GOP | Salon:

... What we learned in August is something we've long known but keep forgetting: The most important difference between America's Democratic left and Republican right is that the left has ideas and the right has discipline. [No, you just pretend our ideas don't exist.] Obama and progressive supporters of health care were outmaneuvered in August -- not because the right had any better idea for solving the health care mess [We have LOTS of ideas, often in bills that have been introduced in congress. Where the Dem leadership won't allow them to come up for a vote. Because you are COWARDS.] but because the rights' attack on the Democrats' idea was far more disciplined than was the Democrats' ability to sell it. [So whose demonstrators get off the chartered buses with pre-printed signs?]

I say the Democrats' "idea" but in fact there was no single idea. Obama never sent any detailed plan to Congress. Meanwhile, congressional Dems were so creative and undisciplined before the August recess they came up with a kaleidoscope of health-care plans. The resulting incoherence served as an open invitation to the Republican right to focus with great precision on convincing the public of their own demonic version of what the Democrats were up to -- that it would take away their Medicare, require "death panels," raise their taxes, and lead to a government takeover of medicine, and so on. [Notice he doesn't engage with those accusations...just waves them away.] The Obama White House -- a veritable idea factory brimming with ingenuity -- thereafter proved unable to come up with a single, convincing narrative to counteract this right-wing hokum. Whatever discipline Obama had mustered during the campaign somehow disappeared. [Ideas are NOT THE POINT. The ground is thickly strewn with interesting ideas—you can pick them up by the bushel. So having "ideas" is WORTH NOTHING. It is your philosophy that matters, because that tells you WHICH ideas to value. We who oppose Obama are OPEN about our underlying philosophy. Obama and his supporters HIDE their philosophy. WHY? ]
This is just the latest chapter of a long saga. Over the last twenty years, as progressives have gushed new ideas, the right has became ever more organized and mobilized in resistance -- capable of executing increasingly consistent and focused attacks, moving in ever more perfect lockstep, imposing an exact discipline often extending even to the phrases and words used repeatedly [Projection] by Hate Radio, Fox News, and the oped pages of The Wall Street Journal ("death tax," "weapons of mass destruction," "government takeover of health care.") I saw it in 1993 and 1994 as the Clinton healthcare plan -- as creatively and wildly convoluted as any policy proposal before or since -- was defeated both by a Democratic majority in congress incapable of coming together around any single bill and a Republican right dedicated to Clinton's destruction. Newt Gingrich's subsequent "contract with America" recaptured Congress for the Republicans not because it contained a single new idea [What it contained was OLD ideas, of the sort that Americans have always resonated to. Alas the execution was flubbed, so Republican gains could not be sustained.] but because Republicans unflinchingly rallied around it while Democrats flailed....

What's horridly dishonest here is that Reich is pretending that he thinks that health care is just a technical problem, like, say, designing a bridge. In fact any "solution" here involves decisions that say profound things about what this country is, and where it is going. Decisions that will SHAPE Americans.

And Reich, and Obama, and their whole crew know where they want to go—but are not about to avow it honestly or openly. They don't dare; Americans would reject them instantly. They snuck Obama under America's guard by a vague campaign of hope 'n change, and even stuff like tax cuts! If Obama had been honest about his intentions he'd have been lucky to take Massachusetts!

Posted by John Weidner at September 1, 2009 1:54 PM
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