Even with Russian investigation news sucking up oxygen during the last half of the week, Republicans have egg on their faces after swinging and missing on so-called “Obamacare repeal.” After seven years of campaigning on health care, the GOP had nothing to offer on health care.
But can you imagine if they had passed a plan? Over at Medium I point out that the now-endless campaign cycle means the histrionics would have started before President Trump had finished signing the new bill. It would have meant an ugly few years of Democrats essentially accusing Republicans of murder. I bet the GOP wasn’t ready for it. They’re probably lucky the bill failed.
Earlier this week, I posted a piece on LinkedIn discussing how the failed Republican health care push showed how much President Donald Trump is willing to let others handle the details for even his biggest policy goals.
This business in Syria makes that even more obvious.
President Trump’s shift on Syria – from isolationist to hawk – isn’t something typically seen of politicians. But it tracks pretty closely with the way plenty of Americans view the situation. It also fits with his over-arching message of renewing the perception of America’s strength on the international stage, even if the specific policy (military involvement in Syria) runs against what he has previously advocated.
None of this is necessarily a bad thing. Cynics will note – correctly – that such willingness to change course suggests a President who lacks grounding in a set of deeply held core beliefs. We typically long for elected leaders who take bold stands and stick to their guns.
Look at the Senate this past week to see how those qualities don’t always work out as planned.
But there is a positive side to having an opportunistic deal maker in the big chair. It means that if you can make your case for your cause – regardless of party or philosophical lines – you might just win an ally.
First with healthcare, and now with Syria, President Trump is showing he’s more pragmatist than ideologue. Will anyone take advantage?
Last week the Boston Globe quoted me in their story about young conservative activists (despite the fact that it has been more than a decade since I organized campuses for the Leadership Institute). Reporter Dugan Arnett picked just about the perfect quote to sum up our discussion:
“There are always people who are going to say, ‘This is my ticket; I’m going to make sure my campus burns down, I’m going to be on Fox News a bunch, and that’s going to be my path to the spotlight,’ ” says Jim Eltringham, formerly of the Leadership Institute and currently a Republican campaign consultant. “The problem is: That’s a spotlight that burns out quick.”
Our discussion centered on how some campus activists welcomed controversy for controversy’s sake, provoking outrage on purpose to gain attention with little substance behind the actions. It seems like a lesson some in Washington need to learn, too: In a piece on Medium, I argue that there’s a direct link between this type of superficiality and last week’s Republican failure on health care .
The Organizing for America/Obama Campaign folks took some ribbing in the past week for their campaign to get people talking about Obamacare around the Thanksgiving table. OFA provides you talking points on your way home, and you are supposed to convince your Drunk Uncle that Health Insurance is a good thing.
As silly as the campaign is, here’s the really ridiculous part: There’s no engagement of the actual issues people are talking about. People are seeing their premiums go up, or losing their plans. The website is broken, and the government knew it was broken. There is precious little credibility in even the rosiest talking points OFA offers, and there’s no real guide to handling pushback.
OFA’s effort – in as much as it really is an effort and not just an excuse for periodic communication to keep the email list fresh – will fail because they have no idea how to talk to people who disagree with the concept of Obamacare. And that population seems to get bigger everyday – without a website full of discussion guides.
Playing the Julian Assange to Fox News’ Western Civilization, Media Matters intercepted emails that showed media bias at Fox News:
At the height of the health care reform debate last fall, Bill Sammon, Fox News’ controversial Washington managing editor, sent a memo directing his network’s journalists not to use the phrase “public option.”
Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox’s reporters should use “government option” and similar phrases — wording that a top Republican pollster had recommended in order to turn public opinion against the Democrats’ reform efforts.
Sammon suggested various terms, which stressed that the public option would be government-run health insurance – when in reality, the public option would in fact be run by… well, the government.
But the intrepid bias-hunters at Media Matters have a point – words make a difference. Media Matters’ counterpart on the right, Newsbusters, has taken this on by pointing out that maintaining current tax rates is not an increase in government spending – a misnomer used by CNN and other media outlets. (As an aside, Republicans have failed miserably in defining the expiration of the “Bush Tax Cuts” as a de facto tax increase.)
While factually accurate, describing the public option as “government health care” does convey a negative connotation. But maybe the question isn’t in the word choice among Fox News correspondents. A better question, perhaps, might be posed to the Administration and the President: Why hide the government health care program behind euphemisms?
Claims of racial epithets and gay-bashing have diffused the impact of the crowds that descended on the Capitol last weekend. The images on TV of citizens rallying by the thousands were amazing; the allegations that some of those citizens used ugly, personal, and unintelligent attacks.
Democrats have used the alleged incidents to criticize tea partiers – and it certainly gives them a convenient way to shift the debate away from the massive amounts of people who showed up to oppose a government-mandated reorganization of the health care system.
Far be it from me to say that Democrats are trying to use race to scare people out of siding with their opposition. But it wouldn’t be the first time.
The real problem here isn’t what racial epithets may or may not have been used. Anyone who has worked in legitimate Republican and conservative circles knows that racists tend to be booted out as soon as they are discovered. The racial arsonists of the left start enough fires on their own, they don’t need any kerosene.