Monday, August 10, 2009

Peggy Noonan vs Your Health

Peggy Noonan is somehow still allowed to write a column at the Wall Street Journal.

We have entered uncharted territory in the fight over national health care. There’s a new tone in the debate, and it’s ugly. At the moment the Democrats are looking like something they haven’t looked like in years, and that is: desperate.
They must know at this point they should not have pushed a national health-care plan. A Democratic operative the other day called it “Hillary’s revenge.” When Mrs. Clinton started losing to Barack Obama in the primaries 18 months ago, she began to give new and sharper emphasis to her health-care plan. Mr. Obama responded by talking about his health-care vision. He won. Now he would push what he had been forced to highlight: Health care would be a priority initiative. The net result is falling support for his leadership on the issue, falling personal polls, and the angry town-hall meetings that have electrified YouTube.

So, according to Peggy Noonan, (who is a Republican speechwriter, just to be clear), Obama's health-care vision helped him win the election. People voted for him because they wanted his version of health-care reform. But according to her, that same health-care reform his going to be the death of his presidency. Doesn't add up, really.

Just so we can add a little context, here are some poll numbers from the latest NYT/CBS News survey:

Which of the following three statements comes closest to expressing your overall view of the health care system in the United States: 1. On the whole, the health care system works pretty well and only minor changes are necessary to make it work better. 2. There are some good things in our health care system, but fundamental changes are needed. 3. Our health care system has so much wrong with it that we need to completely rebuild it.

Minor changes 16%
Fundamental changes 49%
Completely rebuild 33%
DK/NA 3%

Regardless of how you usually vote, who do you think has better ideas about reforming the health care system — Barack Obama, or the Republicans in Congress?

Obama 55%
Republicans in Congress 26%
Both(vol.) 1%
Neither(vol.) 7%
DK/NA 11%

So, 82% of people in this poll believe that our health-care system should be fundamentally changed, or completely rebuilt. And 55% of people believe believe that Obama has better ideas about health care reform. And yet we should listen to a Republican speechwriter when she says that there is falling support for Obama's leadership on this issue, and that he never should have taken up the issue. In fact he should have ignored a health-care system that most people think should be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt!

She then offers, for those people might believe that Obama is doing this because it's the right thing to do, an alternative explanation: Obama is just doing this because he has to, because he made a campaign promise. This is asinine.

First off, Obama promised to fundamentally change the Bush policies on indefinite detention of terror suspects, without charges, trials, or any semblance of habeus corpus. He also promised to allow gays to serve in the military. He has done nothing in either of these areas, except to continue the Bush policy on detentions, and even make it worse. So claiming that he's just doing this because he made a campaign promise requires a little more evidence than Noonan is providing, which is none.

Secondly, her assertion that he is mistakenly sticking to his promises despite the political perils should be taken as a compliment, except for the fact that it's belied by the poll numbers suggesting that Americans, by a wide margin, believe that that health care reform needs to be done.

Ms. Noonan should remember, when she makes stories up out of thin air, that they at least should be plausible.

And so the shock on the faces of Congressmen who’ve faced the grillings back home. And really, their shock is the first thing you see in the videos. They had no idea how people were feeling. Their 2008 win left them thinking an election that had been shaped by anti-Bush, anti-Republican, and pro-change feeling was really a mandate without context; they thought that in the middle of a historic recession featuring horrific deficits, they could assume support for the invention of a huge new entitlement carrying huge new costs.

In fact, as the poll numbers show, they actually have this support.

The passions of the protesters, on the other hand, are not a surprise. They hired a man to represent them in Washington. They give him a big office, a huge staff and the power to tell people what to do. They give him a car and a driver, sometimes a security detail, and a special pin showing he’s a congressman. And all they ask in return is that he see to their interests and not terrify them too much. Really, that’s all people ask. Expectations are very low. What the protesters are saying is, “You are terrifying us

What protesters are saying this? The protesters at these rallies are people who are brought there by health care and pharmaceutical lobbyists, who are coached by them on how to disrupt these events, and refuse to even let the congressmen speak. These people may be terrified, but if they are, they have been terrified by corporate-sponsored groups who feed them lies and then send them out to shout down the those who wish to actually debate. And stifling the debate gets nothing done, and leaves us with the status quo- the current system which is fantastic for those same corporate interests, but terrible for everyone else. And stifling the debate means that I get to write about how the debate is stifled, and about the politics of it all, instead of the issues. And if you're a Republican operative, like Ms. Noonan is, then issues are things to be avoided.

What has been most unsettling is not the congressmen’s surprise but a hard new tone that emerged this week. The leftosphere and the liberal commentariat charged that the town-hall meetings weren’t authentic, the crowds were ginned up by insurance companies, lobbyists and the Republican National Committee. But you can’t get people to leave their homes and go to a meeting with a congressman (of all people) unless they are engaged to the point of passion. And what tends to agitate people most is the idea of loss—loss of money hard earned, loss of autonomy, loss of the few things that work in a great sweeping away of those that don’t

This is true. And one way to make them passionate is to lie to them and tell them that the government is going to take away their health care, and euthanize them when they get old. And the point of her article seems to be that Obama should have known that the Republican/Corporatorial/Industrial Complex (yes, I just made that word up) would lie to people who don't know any better, and so he should have left health care alone.

In other words, Obama is a fool for risking his poll numbers on something as trivial as health care for Americans.

Also, note that she admits that a few good things might be swept away in a great sweeping away of thing that don't. Of course, she considers private health care insurance as intrinsically "good", whether or not it works, which it clearly doesn't.

Then came the Democratic Party charge that the people at the meetings were suspiciously well-dressed, in jackets and ties from Brooks Brothers. They must be Republican rent-a-mobs. Sen. Barbara Boxer said on MSNBC’s “Hardball” that people are “storming these town-hall meetings,” that they were “well dressed,” that “this is all organized,” “all planned,” to “hurt our president.” Here she was projecting. For normal people, it’s not all about Barack Obama.

But for Republican operatives like yourself, Ms. Noonan, it IS all about Obama. That's why you label it Obama-care. That's why Rep. Sen Jim DeMint said, "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." But of of course, you really aren't normal, are you?

Your health care, Ms Noonan, no doubt is secure. Sen DeMint's health care, which is provided by the federal government, is also secure. So you're not too worried about that. No, your worry is that you are losing your grip on power, and this is all about power. If you thought that nuking Iran and killing a few million innocent people would guarantee a Republican presidency, you'd probably push the button yourself.

The Democratic National Committee chimed in with an incendiary Web video whose script reads, “The right wing extremist Republican base is back.” DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse issued a statement that said the Republicans “are inciting angry mobs of . . . right wing extremists” who are “not reflective of where the American people are.”

But most damagingly (sic) to political civility, and even our political tradition, was the new White House email address to which citizens are asked to report instances of “disinformation” in the health-care debate: If you receive an email or see something on the Web about health-care reform that seems “fishy,” you can send it to The White House said it was merely trying to fight “intentionally misleading” information.

Ms. Noonan doesn't even bother to argue with the first paragraph, because she knows that it's true. And she tries to counter that by citing the White House's efforts to do something about the very lies that these Republican and corporate operatives are spreading.

All of this is unnecessarily and unhelpfully divisive and provocative. They are mocking and menacing concerned citizens. This only makes a hot situation hotter. Is this what the president wants? It couldn’t be. But then in an odd way he sometimes seems not to have fully absorbed the awesome stature of his office. You really, if you’re president, can’t call an individual American stupid, if for no other reason than that you’re too big. You cannot allow your allies to call people protesting a health-care plan “extremists” and “right wing,” or bought, or Nazi-like, either. They’re citizens. They’re concerned. They deserve respect.

You know, I think that if a police officer behaves in a stupid way, than the president has every right to call him out on it, especially if this stupidity is widespread and has nationally important negative consequences. What would you have him say? That it was “unfortunate”? That it was “something that should be looked at”? And it's the de facto leader of your party, Rush Limbaugh, who is comparing Obama to Hitler:

Where is your outrage?

And frankly, they ought to think about backing off. The president should call in his troops and his Congress and announce a rethinking. There are too many different bills, they’re all a thousand pages long, no one has time to read them, no one knows what’s going to be in the final one, the public is agitated, the nation’s in crisis, the timing is wrong, we’ll turn to it again—but not now. We’ll take a little longer, ponder every aspect, and make clear every complication.

In other words, because your party is poisoning the debate and spreading lies, and you've got the public agitated, we should pass on this and do it later, presumably when there is no public passion, and therefore it won't ever happen.
Yes, we should take longer and get a better plan than we have now. But we're going to get a crappy plan, that's just a little better than the shitty system we have now, because you are going to compare every decent policy to the Final Solution.

1 comment:

  1. Obama qualifications to reform health care:

    No birth certificate

    Can not stop smoking

    Difficulty telling the truth.

    Narcissistic personality disorder.

    Therefore, I Igor produce Obama Birth Certificate at

    Compare Obama Care vs Igor Care at Obama vs Igor Care