A Losing Strategy

By Alter, Jonathan | Newsweek, March 22, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Losing Strategy


Alter, Jonathan, Newsweek


Byline: Jonathan Alter

The GOP will run against health care.

As if liberals need more motivation to push health- care reform, Rush Limbaugh, in a profoundly patriotic move, said last week he'll be "leaving the country" if health care passes. VOTE YES ON REFORM. SEND RUSH PACKING! It's a bumper sticker with the virtue of no reference to "cost curves" or pre-existing conditions.

Progressives are so dispirited--and, like the rest of the country, so sick of talking about sick people--that they can't wrap their heads around the reality that this is the Big One, the Super Bowl, for all the marbles. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner can scowl, but Republicans are now nearly irrelevant to the process. The only real question is if Democrats are in the mood to slit their own throats. The bill is complex, but the politics are simple: if health care doesn't pass this spring, Obama's domestic presidency is finished. The Democratic Party will be, to borrow a phrase from Nixon, a "helpless, pitiful giant." By contrast, if the bill gets signed, Republicans are setting themselves up for a "repeal the bill" campaign that will likely backfire in November's midterm elections. That's eight months away, but if the bill passes I'd bet on the GOP winning only a few new seats.

This is Politics 101, a class that many Democrats apparently flunked. The House Democrats who voted for the bill at the end of 2009 have no choice but to vote for it again if they have any clue as to what's in their political self-interest; the he-was-for-it-before-he-was-against-it ads write themselves. And the more conservative Blue Dog Democrats who voted against it need to understand that no matter how toxic health care is in their districts right now, things will be a lot worse if they have to run under the banner of a failed president. Voters won't reward them for being fake Republicans--they'll vote for the real ones instead.

The fate of the bill now rests mostly with the House. (The 51 votes in the Senate needed for reconciliation won't be a problem, but procedural hassles lie ahead; Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin is about to become one of the most powerful people in Washington.) So I'd like to single out the "Suicide Six": Democrats--besides abortion foes like Bart Stupak--from districts Obama carried who are threatening to withhold their votes and blow up everything.

Eliot Engel--a Ben Nelson wannabe, it appears--is holding out for New York to be "treated fairly.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Losing Strategy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?