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"...Dukakis Without The Administrative Skill."

| 53 Comments

Go over and read a great 'report card' on Obama at the Huffington Post (can you believe I'm saying that?).

Seriously, writer Drew Westen nails Obama for exactly the things I'm increasingly uncomfortable with (and if you believe the polls, you're increasingly uncomfortable with as well).
What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.
What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.

The problem is not that his record is being distorted. It's that all three have more than a grain of truth. And I say this not as one of those pesky "leftists." I say this as someone who has spent much of the last three years studying what moves voters in the middle, the Undecideds who will hear whichever side speaks to them with moral clarity.
He goes on, and it gets better.

My own discomfort with Obama come from two core perspectives...

First, that I'm trying to figure out what happened to that uber-controlled competent campaigner. How did he become Barney Fife?

Next, that the guy who is so good at making speeches seems completely incapable of staying on message and developing themes - of expressing a coherent view of the world, our place in it, and the policies we need to advance to secure and improve that place in the world - see my response to his Afghanistan speech.

Westen goes on:
Like most Americans I talk to, when I see the president on television, I now turn change the channel the same way I did with Bush. With Bush, I couldn't stand his speeches because I knew he meant what he said. I knew he was going to follow through with one ignorant, dangerous, or misguided policy after another. With Obama, I can't stand them because I realize he doesn't mean what he says -- or if he does, he just doesn't have the fire in his belly to follow through. He can't seem to muster the passion to fight for any of what he believes in, whatever that is. He'd make a great queen -- his ceremonial addresses are magnificent -- but he prefers to fly Air Force One at 60,000 feet and "stay above the fray."

It's the job of the president to be in the fray. It's his job to lead us out of it, not to run from it. It's his job to make the tough decisions and draw lines in the sand. But Obama really doesn't seem to want to get involved in the contentious decisions. They're so, you know, contentious. He wants us all to get along. Better to leave the fights to the Democrats in Congress since they're so good at them. He's like an amateur boxer who got a coupon for a half day of training with Angelo Dundee after being inspired by the tapes of Mohammed Ali. He got "float like a butterfly" in the morning but never made it to "sting like a bee."
And that's true. My friends criticized Obama - looking at the trail of bodies in his wake and suggested that he was "just another Chicago politician." I saw that as a feature, not a bug. I believed that when the chips were down, Obama would fight brutally hard.

Haven't seen that so much. Instead we get what Westen brutally calls:
He's increasingly appearing to the public, and particularly to swing voters, like Dukakis without the administrative skill.
I hoped that he'd be the harbinger of a new kind of liberalism, and so far I'm flat wrong about that.

But Fitzgerald was wrong; there often are second acts in American life. Obama has been bloodied. Let's see what happens now. Will he fold or fight? Will he embrace the bankrupt politics of the SEIU, or will he strike out in new directions and bring the American people with him?
-

53 Comments

Obama is exactly what he was, he hasn't changed a bit. His core values were always invisible, his SOP has always been standing around looking pretty while others did the work, and his boundless ignorance was manifest during the campaign. Nothing about Obama has changed but your perceptions, and if you go back and revisit your comments and posts during the election I think you will discover that you rationalized the H*ll out of your desire to support him. I didn't even bother to comment much at the time, it would have been like arguing with a smitten teenager about the virtues of the loved one.

We have this aircraft in the marine arsenal called the Osprey. Its taken 20 years and 30 billion dollars to develop, and having finally been fielded they now cost 70 million a pop, that up quite a bit from the 3 billion the program was originally earmarked for.

A lot of us know the history of political and career capital invested in this... colorful platform, and the myriad of controversy, accidents, and tragedies along the way.

It turns out, having finally accomplished the goal of fielding the Osprey, its too risky to allow the Osprey to come under fire... or in other words fulfill the mission all those billions of dollars and years of development were spent on. Now the Ospreys ferry troops between quiet bases in Iraq (when they aren't down for repair) and are starting to play the same gag in Afghanistan... a campaign that would have been perfect for what the Osprey was designed to do if it could actually do it.

The goal of the Osprey program was to develop and deploy Osprey... at whatever the cost. That the Osprey can't actual deliver what it promised is beside the point.

Too much has been invested getting where it is to risk a setback now by doing what it was expected to do.

My friends criticized Obama - looking at the trail of bodies in his wake and suggested that he was "just another Chicago politician." I saw that as a feature, not a bug. I believed that when the chips were down, Obama would fight brutally hard.

As the trail of bodies attests, he does fight brutally hard - but for Obama, not for any outside purpose.

I believed that when the chips were down, Obama would fight brutally hard
-AL

I'm somewhat baffled AL. What do you mean? When the chips were down last October for the major investment banks who were faced with the consequences of their own greed and malfeasance the Barockstar worked overtime to twist the arms of congresscritters who were understandably reluctant to sign-off on the 700 billion dollar TARP giveaway against the wishes of their constituents (public sentiment was running 300-to-1 against at the time). To further insure that his Wall Street bankrollers would maintain open and ready access to the US Treasury, he stacked his administration with the very architects of the financial disaster. Viola! All of the of the liabilities of the Wall Street hustlers were transferred to the backs of the US taxpayers. Success!

When the chips were down for GM bondholders faced with certificates worth less than 10% percent of their face value as the company faced bankruptcy the Barockstar swooped to their rescue with a deal that paid them back dollar for dollar with tax funds as the GM workers and pensioners were told to go pound sand. Remarkably, the new "leaner and meaner" GM will now produce nearly 25% of its vehicles in China which will no doubt work miracles for an American workforce where even the phony-baloney government numbers reflect an unemployment rate of 10% (real unemployment may exceed 20% today). Nevertheless, investors are encouraged by the prospects of a decimated labor force too intimidated and demoralized for organized agitation. Success!

The Barockstar entered the White House with an overwhelming Democratic majority in both the House and Senate with the Republican party on the ropes thanks to the exploits of the worst administration in the history of the republic, yet he couldn't deliver what three quarters of the American public and 60% of physicians have demanded--universal healthcare (single-payer) for all.

Ah, but what about the silver lining? That great whooshing sound you hear coming out of Washington is the collective sigh of relief from Big Pharma and the health insurers whose overhead accounts for one third of the cost of the most expensive yet inefficient "healthcare" system in the developed world. Not only do the Barockstar's major campaign contributors in the insurance industry maintain their middleman role in the American healthcare market, but they are now assured of a steady stream of captives who still won't be able to afford the crappy coverage they will be forced to pay for by government decree. Success!

Last but not least, war profiteers couldn't be happier now that the Prince of Peace has escalated the "good war" in Af/Pak with the addition of 30,000 cannon fodder and now spends more on "defense" than the Insane Clown Posse that preceded him. Success!

The chips were down AL... for the financial oligarchs who now own the country. Obama has worked like a dog to keep them flush and his intentions were obvious to those who were willing to look from the very beginning.

Well, God knows this independent is going to have to vote strategically in the Illinois Senate election.

If it was Durbin, it'd be easy-- unless the Republicans really screw up, I can't imagine casting a vote for the Number 2 Democrat Senator who couldn't even tell us what the details of the health care bill were.

If Burris were actually running, that would be an easy decision to make, too-- sweeping every last legacy of Blago's corruption is a no-brainer.

But Burris is retiring, so it'll be two relative newcomers. It's almost a year until the election, but at the moment the health care debacle is on my mind. By a year from now, I expect health care costs will already be rising across the board, pressuring Congress to "fix" it by some insane means or another. Breaking the supermajority will at least slow that down. Not breaking it by enough might just let the issue fester for another two years.

"By a year from now, I expect health care costs will already be rising across the board, pressuring Congress to "fix" it by some insane means or another."

Bingo. And Coldtype will have the opportunity to get his single payer system that his polling tells him (but nobody else strangely) the American people are clammering for. That's plenty of time to find a snazzy new term to spin 'rationing' and 'waiting list' into. Ask the Canucks and the Brits, I'm sure theyre working on it.

And for the record- the only thing truly surprising is that anyone is really surprised government has already turned healthcare into a dogs dinner of rent seeking and spiraling waste, graft, and deficits.

As may have been pointed out a few times during the election, Obama had a paper thin resume of little or no accomplishment. For anybody to be surprised is insane, the only thing that would have been surprising would not to be surprised. We all rolled the dice.

The main way his lack of experience shows is that he largely defers to everyone else: the generals with the ribbons, the former bankers in his treasury department, the Congress with it's pork-based stimulus and healthcare plans. He's simply there to inspire others, as if the pros don't have their own agenda.

And Coldtype will have the opportunity to get his single payer system that his polling tells him (but nobody else strangely) the American people are clammering for.

Could be, but I'm not sure. There has been financial, political and even temporal capital spent on this bill. It's not clear that if or when the system starts to fall apart that there will be the resources and ability to create a single payer system. We might simply get rationing and additional payroll taxes to shore up Medicare.

It would certainly be cheaper to mandate that nobody in the country can get a mammogram prior to the age of 50, than it would be to raise taxes to create a single-payer system in a country in which 25% of the GDP is in healthcare and 50% of compensation is in health benefits.

And Coldtype will have the opportunity to get his single payer system that his polling tells him (but nobody else strangely) the American people are clammering for
-PD Shaw

No need to take my word for it PD, peruse some of the numbers yourself. While you're at it, try to find evidence elsewhere in the developed world where the natives are pining for America's decrepit pay-as-you-go system that to date leaves some 50 million uninsured and is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.

... there often are second acts in American life. Obama has been bloodied. Let's see what happens now. Will he fold or fight? Will he embrace the bankrupt politics of the SEIU, or will he strike out in new directions and bring the American people with him?

Well, history has been faithfully repeating itself so far, so let's look again at what Bill Clinton did.

Clinton, who had campaigned as the New Improved Moderate, set out to ram national health care down our throats with pure partisan force majeure. He had big majorities in both houses, so screw everybody who wasn't on the team.

So when 1994 blew all of that away, what did chastened Clinton do? Compared to what he set out to do, almost nothing. He took a share of credit for NAFTA and welfare reforms, which earned him the eternal hatred of the left, but those were the only crumbs on the table. Mostly what Clinton did was survive, and that took everything he had. He was absorbed in negotiations to avoid prosecution right up to the last day of his presidency.

Assuming that Obama has any aspirations higher than naked survival, what are the chances that he will do any better at working with congressional Republicans after 2010 than Clinton did after 1994?

It would certainly be cheaper to mandate that nobody in the country can get a mammogram prior to the age of 50, than it would be to raise taxes to create a single-payer system in a country in which 25% of the GDP is in healthcare and 50% of compensation is in health benefits
-PD Shaw

No PD, It would be cheaper to eliminate the middle man from the equation entirely, as is the case in the rest of the developed world. That 25% of GDP that goes into he coffers of health insurers doesn't have to.

The problem still remains that the GOP has no one that can challenge him. No congressional leadership, no philosophy.

Rant all you want about Obama. the way the party looks now, being bullied by the reactionary wing, Obama can win using the old Clinton trick. You know, I might be terrible, but these other guys are worse.

The party is in the worse shape I have ever seen and they are up against an extremely charismatic guy that people like. If unemployment is at 7% in October and he throws himself into the campaign. that means big trouble for the GOP.

Looking at historical unemployment figures from the BLS , it generally takes approximately a year from when unemployment tops out to where it starts approaching back to near pre-recession levels. The last time unemployment was above 10% was during the '82-'83 recession, where the upper level was 10.8%; one year later, it was still at 8.5%. Things may turn around dramatically in time to save 2010 for the Democrats, but the history isn't promising.

Its also way too early to start dismissing the GOP as dead-on-arrival in terms of candidates for 2012. By comparison, in late 1989 Clinton was still considered at best a long shot for the '92 nomination, GWB wasn't on the nomination radar screen in '97, in '05 Obama was considered a great speaker and eventual POTUS candidate but not likely to run in '08 due to inexperience, etc. If history indicates anything, its that the predictions this far out are usually wrong. Now, the amount of $$$ that it takes to mount a campaign is at unprecedented levels, so that may limit the field to only those who start actively campaigning years beforehand, but it has to prove itself first.

The problem still remains that the GOP has no one that can challenge him. No congressional leadership, no philosophy
-toc3

The GOP doesn't need anyone to challenge Obama for as I've pointed out above he's doing a bang up job on his own for the nation's owners. After all that's the only constituency that matters to the more virulent wing of the nation's political duopoly. How is Wall Street weathering the storm? How about the war profiteers of the defense industry? How about the health insurers? Their future never looked brighter and that's entirely the point. All the huffing and puffing between members of the two "oppositional" parties is mere kabuki theater for the rubes back home.

Rant all you want about Obama. the way the party looks now, being bullied by the reactionary wing, Obama can win using the old Clinton trick. You know, I might be terrible, but these other guys are worse
-toc3

But then one must pause to ask: why is Obama so terrible given the mandate the public gave him? Weren't the Republicans "worse" before Obama's inauguration? What changed? If "hope and change" was anything more than a campaign slogan then this should have been a cakewalk for the Obama team.

Oops! Did I mention the Obama team of Clintonistas, GOP stalwarts, and other assorted characters who practically screamed STATUS QUO ? My bad. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the reason the same elite special interests that were coddled under Team Bush are now receiving similar public subsidy under the Barockstar's administration is because where the exact same people (Gates, Bernanke) are not involved in the decisions then people of similar philosophy (Hillary, Summers, Biden!?) are there to dot the "i"'s and cross the "t"'s.

There was never going to be any significant change under an Obama administration and only the willfully ignorant held out any hope for such a thing. No, the Democratic party is here to serve its function which is to capture, dilute, and redirect public dissidence and frustration into safe directions when the GOP wing inevitably goes overboard in their untiring service to Power and Privilege. The difference today is that the Obama administration may have blown the pooch with its shameless servility to elite interests at the public's expense and now the rubes have awaken to the scam. This spells trouble in 2010 and 2012 which is the total extent of the Donk's concern.

Obama is a fundamentally different guy than Clinton though.

Clinton, I think, was actually willing, at some point to moderate his approach to survive. He recognized health care wasn't gonna work and so cut it off.

Faced with essentially the same thing, Obama rammed through a country-changing piece of crap that most of the country, after a year of debate, doesn't want.

At a deeper level, "the feature, not a bug" comment on Chicago politics explains this and explains why Obama thinks he'll get reelected.

Whereas Clinton was fundamentally playing by the rules of national politics as they'd been played, Obama is attempting remake them in the mold of the big city politics we see in Chicago, New York, Detroit, or your local favorite, San Francisco.

You know, San Francisco, the place you just complained about and that has been subject to one-party rule (like those other cities, mostly) for 45 years.

How does something like that happen? Well, it happens because the government creates a permanent coalition by means of patronage, rent-seeking, and identity politics.

The identity politics stuff has been par for the course for years even at the national level, but the legislative moves the Democrats are making are cementing the patronage and rent-seeking coalitions.

You've got the stimulus bill, which, shockingly, is on pace to distribute even more money to Democratic party constituents next year than it has this year.

And you've got the health care bill, which is going to make significantly more folks subject (a more appropriate word is hard to fathom) to Washington DC for their livelihoods and personal care. In short, it will make for pliant voters.

This is all to say, the difference between Clinton and Obama is that Obama is boldly changing the country by bringing Chicago politics to the nation writ large. Patronage, one-party rule, massive corruption, and basically a world of shit. THAT, and nothing else, is his re-election plan.

The fact that you can't see that, and are still hoping for some sort of "second act" move to the middle is more frighteningly deluded than a vote for him in the first place.

"Lord! Open the King of England's eyes!

That 25% of GDP that goes into he coffers of health insurers doesn't have to.

I believe that the profit margin of health insurance companies is about 3%, which isn't bad. The main problem I have with the current system is that it is difficult to obtain insurance except through work, that competition across state lines is limited, and that the insurance company stands between me and the doctor to pay the bills. I think the latter raises costs, it certainly has in the auto body fixup industry. I doubt that having the government in the middle will improve things much. OTOH, it would provide lots of opportunity for kickbacks and bureaucrats.

As to other countries, it is a mixed bag. Cancer and chronic pain get better treatment in the US than in Europe, for instance. And when was the last time that you heard of a medical innovation from the continent?

Coldtype,

I am a Met fan. I like National League baseball. I follow the game very closely. that being said, I cannot watch an Anerican League game. I can barely watch a national League game if the Mets are not competing.

I am pretty much the same in politics. I don't engage in arguments with Democrats. I just play a different brand of politics. Within this perspective, my initial post was not a knock on Obama, just a statement of fact, from my viewpoint and one that I see no need to defend.

My comments were to warn against over confidence when dealing with Obama led Democrats. The Screed from Huffington Post, from my perspective, was nothing for Republicans to cluck about. I merely wanted to say that he is a formidable adversary and should not be underestimated, ever.

At this point I do not see a Republican majority in either House of Congress for the foreseeable future. I know that things can change rapidly, but I don't see the republican party drawing a great deal of interest from independents if it continues down the Reactionary path it is presently on.

I think your scenario of bringing big City Irish (I am Irish and remember the tail end of it in New York in the 50s. Machine politics back to the national stage is spot on.

I do not see anyone in the Republican party that will stop him, nor do a see a Newt Gingrich who can pull together a cogent statement of republican principles and sell it to the American people in 2010.
So the delusions that we will be experiencing 1994 all over again is just plain dangerous.

Obama has won on health care. He will probably win on Energy Policy, which will strengthen his hand when he takes on Wall Street. the body politic are like fight fans. They like winners.

Again, you underestimate this guy if you think he is a lightweight politically. He came from nowhere, destroyed the Clinton machine and sat atop a party that gave an essentially filibuster proof majority to his party.

I think he is a political genius. I still have no idea how he did it. He has promised to enter the contest next year and energize a national Democratic Campaign. If you are a Republican and not worried enough about that to get your act together and braden the tent, then you will get what you asked for and one of the things that you wont get is Independent voters.

God knows I hate to agree with toc, but he's right on the state of the Republican party. The Dems have been masterful at turning our nation into a field of competing interests all begging for their share of the scraps. Witness Harry Reid today noting that any Senator that didn't bring home enough goodies has only himself to blame. Shameful.

And Coldplay has amazingly managed to shoehorn every fallacy about healthcare into one paragraph- 50 million uninsured (only if you include illegals, those who chose it, and probably the corpses that vote in Cook County), that a nation rejecting this cooked up nightmare by over 50% actually prefer completely socialized medicine (i can cook up a poll and get people to back euthenasia en masse if i phrase it right), that the GOP backs the status quo (tort reform? cross state insurance? tax reform? fixing medicare?), and of course that government can do ANYTHING cheaply and efficiently (Medicare has a tiny administration? Easy when youre ok with a third of your budget going to waste and fraud). But bravo for the brevity, lets us knock out all the nonsense at once.

As to other countries, it is a mixed bag
- charris208

For whom? Certainly not for the public in those countries who would never tolerate our system of pay as-you-go treatment and where healthcare is tied to employment. Unlike here in the US, it's taken as a given that healthcare is a basic human right--not something to be commodified--so they have organized and funded a system in accordance with this belief.

Cancer and chronic pain get better treatment in the US than in Europe, for instance
- charris208

Perhaps for those fortunate enough to afford our gold-plated system. What about our legions of unemployed and chronically under-employed? Furthermore, I would hesitate to gloat over the "achievements" of American healthcare given the disparities in life-expectancies and overall health between Americans and the people of Canada, South Korea, Japan, and western Europe. Since those here who cannot afford health insurance often avoid treatment they join the thousands of Americans who perish from treatable illnesses each year.

Our healthcare industry is just that, an industry . The business of health insurers is the denial of treatment or the reduction thereof while collecting premiums. Full stop.

And when was the last time that you heard of a medical innovation from the continent?
- charris208

For our 16 million unemployed with tens of thousands more joining them daily does it really matter?

"Certainly not for the public in those countries who would never tolerate our system of pay as-you-go treatment and where healthcare is tied to employment."

Tell that to the Canadians that flood into the US for timely care rather than languish on waiting lists (same with the Brits).

You talk about gold plated care- Socialized nations HAVE that, its call US.

As always with socialists, this isn't about making life appreciably better for the downtrodden, its about making it worse for anyone who commits the sin of having a something more than someone else (aside from the elite of course, the Pigs will always have their place at Farmers table).

Obama has won on health care. He will probably win on Energy Policy, which will strengthen his hand when he takes on Wall Street. the body politic are like fight fans. They like winners
-toc3

Please forgive me but how has Obama won on healthcare? Certainly the health insurers have won since now the public will be coerced by the government to purchase their crap product in what pales only to the Wall Street giveaway in terms of a massive public subsidy of private enterprise, but Obama--as polls attest--gains nothing positive (politically) in the least.

Take on Wall Street? Was this meant as satire? His administration has to date committed 23 TRILLION DOLLARS in taxpayer obligations to save the perpetrators of the greatest financial fraud in human history and you hold out the prospect that he will "take on" the sector that rapes the treasury as I type these words? The time to take the Wall Street hustlers on was when they crawled to Congress on hands and knees last October after their "innovations" blew up in their faces. The same man who has bent over for every elite wish can hardly be expected to break bad on the sector that bankrolled his campaign and for whom he has literally given the treasury.

Tell that to the Canadians that flood into the US for timely care rather than languish on waiting lists (same with the Brits)
-MB

You mean the "waiting lists" for nose jobs and new tits?

Primary, followup, and emergency care require no waiting list Mark just a national healthcare card. If you want the bells and whistles in places such as Britain or Canada you still have the option of paying for it there since boutique services are available for those who desire and can afford them. If you should lose/quit your job there, however, you don't also lose your health coverage as would be the case here in the good old USA. Furthermore, the onset of sudden illness in Canada or France won't put you at the risk of bankruptcy and homelessness due to medical expenses, yet another "benefit" of ours that others of the developed world don't get to experience.

You mean the "waiting lists" for nose jobs and new tits?

Nah, things like hip surgery and cancer diagnosis and treatment.

just a national healthcare card

As a Canadian judge pointed out, access to a waiting list isn't the same as access to health care.

No doubt Canadian health care sorta works, as does US health care. OTOH, if you want the best and can afford it, then the US is the place to go.

OTOH, if you want the best and can afford it, then the US is the place to go.

Absolutely. As a Canadian, I've very happy to receive 95% of the health-outcomes for 50% of the price.

And yes, Canadian waiting lists are real. Saving 50% (while essentially covering the entire country) is not magic. There is rationing (you can think of each province as a giant HMO), there are treatments that won't be covered because the return is too low.

And it's one of Canada's biggest advantages.

However, make no mistake. Having the USA as a second tier is perfect. It allows those (very) few Canadians who do want a higher standard (or to skip a waiting list) and can afford the incredible costs to get access to that care, while placing it enough out of the mainstream that pretty much every Canadian has a stake in keeping the system working.

We're in the sweet spot, alright, but it's not magical. We make trade-offs just like everyone else.

OTOH, if you want the best and can afford it, then the US is the place to go
-charris208

Isn't this my line? Have you not perfectly described the problem which is that, increasingly, most Americans cannot afford to participate in the pay-as-you-go gold plated system--thus the need for healthcare reform?

Absolutely. As a Canadian, I've very happy to receive 95% of the health-outcomes for 50% of the price
-TW

And as an American I only wish that I could. What stands in my way? The health insurance industry and their whores in congress.

There is rationing (you can think of each province as a giant HMO), there are treatments that won't be covered because the return is too low
-TW

You mean like new tits and a bitch'in new nose? What about say, a broken arm or followup treatment for diabetes?

However, make no mistake. Having the USA as a second tier is perfect. It allows those (very) few Canadians who do want a higher standard (or to skip a waiting list) and can afford the incredible costs to get access to that care, while placing it enough out of the mainstream that pretty much every Canadian has a stake in keeping the system working
-TW

I couldn't have stated this any better. For the relative handful who can afford to jet to the US for the gold plated package, medical treatment in the US is impossible to beat. This fact no doubt generalizes for the wealthy around the globe. The point that I'm trying to make to my American brethren here is that the quality of American medicine is completely irrelevant for those who cannot afford access to it.

By the way Tom, how many Canadians of your acquaintance would trade your healthcare system for ours?

Well let me give you a scenario going forward that even you may like. But you have to be realistic about politics and accept that it is war of attrition and the executive does not rule by fiat under our system.

Obama has named three thing s he wanted to get done. Health Care, Energy and Wall Street. He is taking them on in a measured pace and as far as I can see in a brilliant order. Each victory is calculated to strengthen him for the next battle.

Health care was the easiest sell, because the system was in a mess and allaying fears about catastrophic illness and your children's health is a winner. Politically he won because even with the entirety of the Republicans holding the line in Congress, ObamaCare. He and his party can now chortle about doing something that was always thought to be impossible against the big, bad Republican wolves.

This sets the stage for Energy Policy. This is a harder sell since it obviously will be felt in the pocket book and it will be easier for the Republicans to make it a pocket book issue. But he already has a Republican scalp on his belt and that will make it easier for him to garner support. Remember, people like winners.

After winning these tune ups, he goes after the championship, Wall Street. At this point he does not look like so much of an underdog after besting the two leading contenders.

Did you really think that these interests were going to roll over for Obama because he gave a few speeches.

Your political naivety is astounding. Your party has a leader who is the political equivalent to Reagan in the amount of change he has wrought and all you do is whine and you wonder why some people have problems trust the Democrat's judgment

"Isn't this my line? Have you not perfectly described the problem which is that, increasingly, most Americans cannot afford to participate in the pay-as-you-go gold plated system--thus the need for healthcare reform?"

Its easy to make a case when you can just make up 'facts'. The vast majority of Americans are satisfied with their personal health care. 57% of satisfied with the cost of their healthcare!

Would they like to see some common sense reforms to help bring down pricing pressure? Of course- but that doesn't translate to upending our capitalist system in an effort to give the middle class the under class level of government care (certainly not the other way around).

Americans certainly don't want some government bureaucrat telling them they can't have their cancer treatment or knee replacement or mammogram because its not cost effective- and before you ask the inane question YES there IS a fundamental difference between being turned down by an insurance company and being turned down by the government.

Well let me give you a scenario going forward that even you may like. But you have to be realistic about politics and accept that it is war of attrition and the executive does not rule by fiat under our system.

Obama has named three thing s he wanted to get done. Health Care, Energy and Wall Street. He is taking them on in a measured pace and as far as I can see in a brilliant order. Each victory is calculated to strengthen him for the next battle.

Health care was the easiest sell, because the system was in a mess and allaying fears about catastrophic illness and your children's health is a winner. Politically he won because even with the entirety of the Republicans holding the line in Congress, ObamaCare. He and his party can now chortle about doing something that was always thought to be impossible against the big, bad Republican wolves.

This sets the stage for Energy Policy. This is a harder sell since it obviously will be felt in the pocket book and it will be easier for the Republicans to make it a pocket book issue. But he already has a Republican scalp on his belt and that will make it easier for him to garner support. Remember, people like winners.

After winning these tune ups, he goes after the championship, Wall Street. At this point he does not look like so much of an underdog after besting the two leading contenders.

Did you really think that these interests were going to roll over for Obama because he gave a few speeches.

Your political naivety is astounding. Your party has a leader who is the political equivalent to Reagan in the amount of change he has wrought and all you do is whine and you wonder why some people have problems trust the Democrat's judgment

Here's a more recent Gallup poll:

• Eight in 10 say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of the medical care available to them and their families.

• Six in 10 say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the cost of the medical care for themselves and their families.

• More than half say rising health care costs such as insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are either no problem or a minor problem for them.

• Nearly two-thirds say reductions in what their insurance plan covers is either no problem or a minor problem.
link

Care to revise your statement Coldplay?

Good, Mark. Now lose the Neo-Con foreign policy which is dead.

No one is going back to the confrontational swaggering Wilsonianism that those idiots brought foisted on the last administration.

Stop chasing people from the party and defining Conservatism as the prattle that we are hearing from recycled Dixiecrats. Then you might start to understand what kind of conservative I am... One that likes to win elections.

Mark B,

number 29 was not in reply to you but to Cold type.

Coldtype,

More on your screed. I would not bet against single player being in place 3 years from now.

However, make no mistake. Having the USA as a second tier is perfect.

I think it runs deeper than that. New treatments, devices, and drugs are developed in the US and, when they are cheap enough, trickle down to countries less interested in innovation. It is the economics of abundance. I have a friend who lives very cheaply by picking up other peoples discards. When there is so much stuff floating about one doesn't really have to work that hard to get by. But that stuff has to come from somewhere.

"No need to take my word for it PD, peruse some of the numbers yourself."

From Coldplays own link:

"Do you favor or oppose the following? . . ."

"Creation of a single-payer system in which the government controls the entire health care insurance system."

11/19-22/09
22 favor 72 oppose 6 unsure

You are entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts.

OK, the world may be coming close to ending, because I actually am agreeing with coldtype (#4)...so far, Obama has represented tyhe worst kind of 'corporatist liberalism' or what I like to call 'skybox liberalism' - I've gotta admit that I'm devastated at how much of a sockpuppet he is for the powerful interests in the country.

On the other hand, like Mark B (#36) I don't see anything in the polls CT is citing that support his claim. Pointers, CT?

And I'm highly doubtful of the notion that somehow centralizing healthcare admin magically drives down the overhead costs. Here's Greg Mankiw on that subject ...

When administrative costs are compared on a per-person basis, the picture changes. In 2005, Medicare's administrative costs were $509 per primary beneficiary, compared to private-sector administrative costs of $453.

Charris brings up an excellent point. The US spends a lot of money on health care, there's no getting around that. But it's also responsible for a lot of the innovation in health care, precisely because the money can pay for the research and development, and some very, very stringent government testing.

Yes, yes, Big Pharma also has a big ad budget. And some of these treatments are really expensive, whereas other countries happily use the threat of "sell it to us cheap or we will take your medicine and make it ourselves" to get cut-rate prices on the same stuff.

But the US doesn't get to free-ride on anyone. If we decide "screw it, we want the cheap stuff too", it upends the whole apple cart of innovation. The treatments that are developed will be less expensive - no medicine actually costs hundreds of dollars a dose to manufacture! - but some of the treatments that would have been available will, in fact, not be available anywhere. We won't know which ones, we'll just know "sorry, we don't have anything that can treat that," or possibly "we have treatments for that but they don't work that well."

On the other hand... that doesn't mean that socialized medicine is an invalid model. Certainly it creates less social stress, once it's in place. There won't be cases like my friend, who got laid off the week after her cancer surgery, and had to keep insurance with no employment at all costs because otherwise she would never be able to get coverage for that cancer again. Then again, there won't be as many cases like my dad, who had his bladder replaced over ten years ago, something they could juuuust barely manage to do at the time; innovation for him means living a normal life instead of urinating into a bag.

Still, it might be easier (speaking for the society) to have treatments that are unavailable because we don't know how to do 'em, rather than treatments that are unavailable because you can't pay for 'em. We just can't pretend that the choice we have is different from that...

AL,

Thank you for the help in our time of need!! The republican party has never been weaker. your Moses has lead you out of the wilderness and your complaint is that you would have preferred baguettes to Manna.

Please continue to whine, complain and sandbag your guy. If you actually thought that he could have done any better for you than he has, I don't think you understand power in this country.

Democrats are the gift that keeps on giving.

Avatar, I think you are hitting on the key point here.

A totally socialized, single payer system ignores the individual. If the resources it requires to heal one rare disease could heal 10 not so rare diseases, the answer is a no-brainer. You can't even really argue about it. Consider mammograms- early screening is a terrible idea for the big picture. It produces too many costly false positives for every true positive. From an individual point of view, its a terrific idea- the cost for an individual is minimal but the benefit potentially huge.

In a more privatized insurance system, the individual is far more important because they are the customer. They have a voice because they (to some extent) control the dollars, and particularly when combined in a group exert great influence. They can badmouth a given company and hurt their reputation. They can petition the government to revue their practices. They can hire a lawyer and sue potentially.

So the elephant in the room of socialized medicine is that it is not meant to benefit the individual. That's not a value judgment- in a socialism friendly society that would be considered the cost of good citizenship. Americans have always hated that mentality, but often craved the perceived social equity in the system. But you can't have both. Our current mess is in trying to have it both both- where the individual is king but government runs the show via command and fiat. All this does is distort the market and ultimately make for an expensive system with increasingly shoddy delivery, the worst of both worlds.

The irony is that there is much we can do in our quasi-private system (such as it is) to force costs down, but political rent seeking keeps that in check and indeed Obama and this bill do nothing but reinforce that. The other irony is that all the 'great' system collectivists are pointing to such Medicare and many of the Europeans systems suffer from the slight problem of hopeless spirals of insolvency. The population bomb gets closer and closer and we insist on pouring gasoline on it.

A response in general, on Republicans:

Yes, the problem with Republicans is that they really don't stand for much, any more. You say "Republican" to a lot of people, and the two and a half thoughts are:

1) Corporate whores
2) Redneck bigots
2.5) Religiously motivated whackjobs

These are unfair characterizations to a degree, but only to a degree-- there is for damn sure an element of truth in all those statements, because the GOP big tent does absolutely have room for all those elements.

And it's a damn shame, too. The redneck bigots seem to be on their way out naturally and societally, but the religious whackjobs pushing creationism, opposing gay marriage, etc, are doing harm to the party now and will do greater harm in the future since we're really close to a societal tipping point on gay marriage.

And it's also a shame because there's a core element of financial freedom that the Republicans simply haven't been able to meaningfully articulate in a long, long time. I don't know if they've forgotten it, or forgotten how to say it, or just assume everyone agrees with them, or are in a complete bunker mentality or what but I ardently, passionately believe that the long term societal benefits of individual financial freedom outweigh the individual short term hardships. (With some obvious safegaurds, obviously. I'm not an Objectivist.)

But you can't get the Republican leadership to really make those cases.

And God knows, after the Bush Administration, it's hard to claim that the Republicans are stewards of good fiscal policy. The most that can be said now is that they're only a little insane and greedy, and opposed to belonging to the Economic School of Magical Unicorns and Fairies.

So while they might, somewhere, deep down, actually stand for something, right now the appearance is only that they stand against things. That they stand against utter financial insanity at the moment is a mark in their favor, but it's hard to rally around the standard of, "At least we're not insane!"

We may-- probably will-- see some backlash in 2010 and even 2012, but for the long haul, look not to the Republican leadership. That party is a spent force and, as happens from time to time in American politics, is going to have to refresh itself from the base and youth on up.

PS: "Blah blah blah, Democrats are similar, blah blah blah."

Yeah, that's actually true, but I'm not talking about them, I'm talking about Republicans, so deal with it.

And now, a response on health care in general:

I think the response at #38 nails it pretty close. Deeper even than my fiscal concerns about all this are my concerns for the future and the pace of medical innovation. It's one of the big elephants in the room that too few people are both willing and qualified to talk about.

My fear is that, for various reasons, the current bill harms it and the possible future under a single payer system harms it gravely. The only even glancing victory I've scored with any of my liberal friends has been on this issue... and then, only the thoughtful ones, and only temporarily. I was so surprised to hear, "That's... a really good point, actually," followed by an uncomfortable silence, once, that I almost crashed my car.

Socialism probably can be made to work in some degree, in some circumstances, but I think a necessary condition is a pre-existing situation of abundance. (Or near-abundance, since abundance has a real definition in economics, and I'm using the term loosely.) Food, for instance, is close enough to abundance that if there were a hue and cry to set up a program to apportion out 2500 calories of food to every American starting next year, I'd probably support it... as long as I still had the freedom to spurn the coupons and go get me my steak. This is something we can afford.

But then, because we so obviously can, there's very little motivation to set up such a program.

And we didn't get there by socialism, either. And the fact that so many people are clamoring for it now is a good indication that we can't afford it, and socialism isn't going to get us there. This I believe so strongly that I've had to get in arguments with my parents about the evils of drug-reimportation. Nothing about socialism has ever spurred innovation and development-- at its highest form, the socialist ideal of "progress" is dividing a pie of fixed dimensions differently tomorrow than it is divided today. It's no surprise that the pie grows more slowly under socialist regimes.

What's more, there is a deep, deep contradiction in liberal thought on this issue, which the Republicans could probably exploit, if they had any actual leaders among them. Consider:

On the topic of global warming, we are asked, exhorted, demanded, to make sharp economic sacrifices now in order to avert future hardships and disasters. We are, in no uncertain terms, asked to make sacrifices for the benefit of people who are not even born yet, that they may live better lives.

But at the same time, on the topic of socialized medicine, we are asked, exhorted, demanded, to take actions which by reducing the pace of innovation amount to sharply sacrificing the better lives of a future generation, that present old and middle aged people may die more comfortably.

I cannot possibly be the only person who has sensed this disconnect in Democrat/liberal thought. When I say that the Republicans don't stand for anything, though, and have no leaders, this is what I mean. Are the Republicans any more consistent on these two issues? I suspect the answer is no, but if I'm reduced to suspecting the answer, then the entire Republican organization has broken, hasn't it?

Your political naivety is astounding. Your party has a leader who is the political equivalent to Reagan in the amount of change he has wrought and all you do is whine and you wonder why some people have problems trust the Democrat's judgment
-toc3

Where in any of my posts to date on this site have I ever indicated that the Democratic Party was my party?

Once again t3, please show me some evidence of this "change" Obama has brought to the party. Melanin, ok, great but what else?

You call Wall Street's heist of the US Treasury and the government assured headlock of the the American population by the insurance mafia a "victory" for Obama yet you provide no evidence of this. Perhaps this is my naivety showing.

The vast majority of Americans are satisfied with their personal health care. 57% of satisfied with the cost of their healthcare!
-MB

Even if I were to take your numbers at face value Mark, roughly how many dissatisfied people does 43% of the American population represent? Furthermore, can you cite comparable statistics in which 43% of the population of any other developed nation are dissatisfied with the cost of their healthcare? For example, should a Canadian fall ill and seek medical care, what's the cost of her deductible? How about French citizen or a Swede?

_• More than half say rising health care costs such as insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are either no problem or a minor problem for them.

• Nearly two-thirds say reductions in what their insurance plan covers is either no problem or a minor problem_
-MB

Mark do you find anything you've just quoted here preposterous given the state of our economy particularly with regards to living-wage jobs? Logic should dictate that in an environment of rising unemployment and a devalued currency that an increase in healthcare costs and reduction of coverage will present something of a problem for most Americans.

Americans certainly don't want some government bureaucrat telling them they can't have their cancer treatment or knee replacement or mammogram because its not cost effective
-MB

And you know something? Neither do Brits, Swedes, the French, or Canadians. You know something else? This only occurs in the fevered imagination of insurance industry hacks in their desperate attempts to polish the US medical care turd. As confirmed by virtually every world health survey, the US is near the bottom of the list in infant mortality, life expectancy, and overall health among populations of the developed world. The key difference? These populations have ready access to needed medical care irrespective of their employment status. Furthermore, there is no 100 billion dollar per year parasitic troll standing between these populations and their doctors.

before you ask the inane question YES there IS a fundamental difference between being turned down by an insurance company and being turned down by the government
-MB

Really? In which of your hypothetical examples would the subject actually receive the needed treatment?

In the real world Americans perish by the thousands due to the denial of care by for-profit insurance corporations which, in the rest of the developed world is unthinkable, in point of fact, illegal.

"Even if I were to take your numbers at face value Mark, roughly how many dissatisfied people does 43% of the American population represent?"

A lot, heck, i'm one of em. But the fallacy is believing that doing anything is better than doing nothing. Like Ive been saying, there are plenty of things we can do to reduce the cost of health care without somehow expecting government to magically make it all better.

"For example, should a Canadian fall ill and seek medical care, what's the cost of her deductible? How about French citizen or a Swede?"

But this isn't Canada, nor Sweden, nor France. We are a far larger nation with problems and expectation that simply don't play well. We are a FATTER nation, and unhealthier nation, and hence a more expensive nation to nurse... we are also more demanding. All of that adds up to a huge river of resources that simply don't exist for us. All that quite aside from the free riding Europe does on us in all sorts of ways. If we had no military to speak of I expect we could do better by our health care.

"Mark do you find anything you've just quoted here preposterous given the state of our economy particularly with regards to living-wage jobs? Logic should dictate...

Who should I believe, your logic, or my lying eyes? Take it up with Americans. I don't know exactly 'whats wrong with Kansas', but I suspect it has more to do with the 'i know better than you rubes' attitude you are displaying here. People don't like that.

"As confirmed by virtually every world health survey, the US is near the bottom of the list in infant mortality, life expectancy, and overall health among populations of the developed world. The key difference?"

The surveys are intentionally rigged to make America look bad? Like the way we collect infant mortality stats compared to Europe? OR the fact that we ARE unhealthier.. because we are fatter and in worse shape? Unless you have a plan to save ourselves from McDonalds... no I don't even want to know.

"These populations have ready access to needed medical care irrespective of their employment status."

There's a plus. Don't feed the system, but collect all the benefits? Is that fair either?

"Really? In which of your hypothetical examples would the subject actually receive the needed treatment?"

Only hypothetical in your mind. Happens every day in Canada and Britain for sure.

"In the real world Americans perish by the thousands due to the denial of care"

More of your 'facts'?

If we had no military to speak of I expect we could do better by our health care
-MB

Ahh, it would appear that we are finally getting somewhere. You mean western Europe doesn't outspend the rest of the world combined on "defense" to the tune of 1 TRILLION DOLLARS annually? I take it that western Europe doesn't have 750+ military bases straddling the globe while (failing) to subdue peasants in two wars of conquest and resource theft--all while utterly bankrupt? Yes, I guess it makes a huge difference when a nation's priorities are the welfare of its domestic population rather than the fortunes of it's transnational corporations and their primary investors. Want to fund a healthcare system for every man, woman, and child in America with change to spare? Chop the defense budget by two thirds and close the imperial garrisons around the globe. A bankrupt nation, relying on major economic rivals for loans cannot afford and will not long sustain an empire.

A.L, I thought I'd include a link to a hypothetical interview of a fictionally progressive Barack Obama two years into his administration courtesy of Michael Albert. This should also go a long way in clearing up some fundamental issues that seem to have toc3 and I talking past one another. If this were the Barack Obama in the White House I'd actually have something to feel anxious about for, unlike liberals, I never held out any hope for his administration in the first place.

Clearly we're not going to agree on this, but let me put it this way- a nation of merchants doesn't prosper in a world without police. A few dozen pirates on rickety boats can drive up the price of trade in a huge region of the world. Imagine how pleasant life would be without the US to keep the peace.

Yes, maybe we have been talking past one another. The defense budget is a disgrace. Is it really necessary to spend 1% of the world's total economic output on the defense of an empire that only bankrupts us? Would that we produce a leader who was a New Agustus and understood the limits of power.

But of course, that is the Democrat's fault.

I thought the debate on continuing production of the Raptor, for instance, was lunacy. Why continue to build planes that are of absolutely no use to us.

I do not think an American pilot has been challenged in an air superiority encounter since the Gulf of Sidra during the Reagan administration.

A PLANE THAT FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES WILL BE THE LAST MANNED FIGHTER WE EVER BUILD.

But of course, that is the Democrat's fault.

I was horrified by the Neo-Con attempt to embed the idea of Empire into our foreign policy bedrock.

These are the sorts of issues that the Republican Party should be addressing, rather than a whole bunch of Tea Party and Religious Right clap trap.

Which is, of course, the Democrat's fault.

I am also appalled by the myopia concerning the changing demographic make-up of the electorate, the fact that the head of the RNC is a buffoon, that there doesn't seem to be a strategic thinker in the party, that it continues to expend energy on lost causes(gays in the military, the Global Warming debate, etc.), that the party has become a group of Reactionaries that play to an anti- intellectual cult that has become the party's base, a group that sole aim seems to be stifling debate and demanding orthodoxy.

Which is, of course, the Democrat's fault.

Their political tactics have, become more and more, nothing but sloganeering and adolescent point scoring. But, anything above that level would be shouted down by blow-hards like Limbaugh and disturbed characters like Beck and Malkin, bullies like Hannity or worse that unfortunate woman Palin, who is somehow worshipped by elements of the party after being derelict in her duty to the people of Alaska by abandoning her sworn oath. But that is OK because she is making money.

(By the way, can anyone make any sense for me as to the reason why she quit. I watched here verbal meanderings when she announce her resignation, but could not make head nor tail of it.)

This is what the Party has become.

Which is, of course, the Democrat's fault.

One other point in my rant. A large part of this increasingly reactionary, Dixiecrat Avatar that is called the Republican party dies every election and there are less and less people that will adhere to the what they correctly perceive to be outdated, disingenuous or worse non-existent ideals.

Which is, of course, the Democrat's fault.

As far as I can tell, no one in this party should be paying attention to the Democrats, before they put their own house in order, which, at this point is an absolute mess.

Which is, of course, the Democrat's fault.

Uh, toc? Where were you about a month ago when one of those "anti-intellectual, Southern reactionaries" won the VA governorship in a landslide? And when another one in New York almost pulled off his election? And yet another won the New Jersey governorship (so much for the "regional rump party" idea)? If you would actually examine the positions of the "theocrats" and "neo-cons" you so breezily dismiss, you might find at least some of their positions more thought out and complicated than your prejudices allow. I also think you WAY overestimate Obama. Remember, during the election his lead was within the margin of error until the financial collapse in September. Obama won the election because incumbents get blamed for everything that happens (remember how Bush caused a hurricane in New Orleans in order to kill black people?). Well, now he's the incumbent. And the drooling, mouth-breathing morons out there will blame him and the Democrats for whatever happens. That means the Republicans don't need to be in all that great a shape to win. It's like the old joke about two hikers in the woods coming upon a bear. One pulls off his hiking shoes and puts on running shoes. The other says, "Are you nuts? You'll never outrun that bear." The first one says, "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you."

Well Fred, you can continue to put your head in the sand over the shape of the party. Tell yourself that the New Jersey and Virginia Governership races make up for catastrophic nationwide losses in the past two elections. By the way we lost three house elections, one tellingly by the entry of a reactionary carpet bagger into a rock solid R

Keep believing that Obama is an empty suit or a passing fad, while he kicks your ass on a regular basis, and continue to dig yourself into the self satisfied and self important hole that the Democrats dug for themselves when they were in the wilderness.

Tell yourself that the electorate are all yobbos and will turn on the party in power which obviates the necessity for the Republicans to develop a clearly stated message by the party. Vision is overatted, point scoring is what counts.

All that matters, it seems is to be good enough to to be the party out of power. Brilliant!

The party has been in decline since the 2000 election. The decline was exacerbated by the know nothing Rovian politics it embraced. A politics that brought the party from its zenith to now where it is a wreck.

Keep believing that Obama is an empty suit or a passing fad, while he kicks your ass on a regular basis, and continue to dig yourself into the self satisfied and self important hole that the Democrats dug for themselves when they were in the wilderness.

Ironically, that's what Republicans were saying to Democrats through the first five-odd years of the Bush Administrations. Even after the 2002 elections where Republicans picked up seats in mid-term elections (not unprecedented, but certainly rare in the 20th and 21st centuries) and the victory in 2004, Democrats were still reflexively calling Bush a moron, a dullard.

At some point, they'll notice that he's not straying far from Bush's foreign policy, either.

I would find this all very funny, if it didn't say very despairing things about the brains of the average yelling, screaming partisans in these fights-- on both sides of the aisle.

Well Fred, you can continue to put your head in the sand over the shape of the party. Tell yourself that the New Jersey and Virginia Governership races make up for catastrophic nationwide losses in the past two elections. By the way we lost three house elections, one tellingly by the entry of a reactionary carpet bagger into a rock solid R

Keep believing that Obama is an empty suit or a passing fad, while he kicks your ass on a regular basis, and continue to dig yourself into the self satisfied and self important hole that the Democrats dug for themselves when they were in the wilderness.

Tell yourself that the electorate are all yobbos and will turn on the party in power which obviates the necessity for the Republicans to develop a clearly stated message by the party. Vision is overatted, point scoring is what counts.

All that matters, it seems is to be good enough to to be the party out of power. Brilliant!

The party has been in decline since the 2000 election. The decline was exacerbated by the know nothing Rovian politics it embraced. A politics that brought the party from its zenith to now where it is a wreck.

Politically Obama came from nowhere because he saw a wide open hole in the center of an electorate that was sick of the polarization that was going on.

This does not mean he did anything about it, but it does mean that he took power with a filibuster proof majority. That is undeniably brilliant vision and embraced a strategy and a set of tactics to attain that.

I don't want to wait 5 years for the GOP to wallow in self delusion. nor 8 years for another Republican administration, all for the grand cause of ideological purity set forth by the reactionary fringe of the party.

I am curious how far this fratricidal war that appears to be growing will go before the party collapses. This is a subject that I have been speaking about here for a long time before the last election. It seems now that some people think it might be worth having a period of self examination within the party.

I do find that encouraging.

Before calling Obama an empty suit, read this article. This is a brilliant political tactician.

"Text to display": http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/sns-dc-health-obama-business,1,3257752,full.story

Before you start counting gains in the 2010 mid terms, don't forget that this incredibly charismatic and well spoken President will return to the field to lead the Democratic effort.

Before you get too caught up in dreams of a 1994 repeat, think about the fact that you will be entering the battle with three straight losses on Health Care, Energy Policy and Financial Reform. You will be doing so without a clearly articulated philosophy like the Contract with America or a united party. Rather in the midst of a fratricidal Civil War and a legislative record that, at the moment is perceived by the electorate as saying no to everything and no leader, physically or philosophically. Newt Gingrich in 1994 was the leader around which the party coalesced.

If you start thinking for a moment that things are getting better, the Party is lost. Republicans might do well to consider things are getting better when they have the majorities that Democrats now have in Congress.

Much, much, much more has to be demanded of the party. As it stands now it is a very sorry group.

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