Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You Don't Bend to The Opinion Polls, Yet You Call Yourself a Leader?

If Michael Gerson were an honest man, he would admit that his former colleague, David Frum, made a valid point when he argued that the Republican Party would have benefited from making itself a part of healthcare reform rather than positioning itself as an obstacle. The Republican Party's continuing avalanche of misinformation about the Affordable Care Act is a sight to behold - as was the manner in which a contrived "activity vs. inactivity" distinction was puffed up over the course of two short years into a legal theory that almost defeated the legislation. Having lost first at the legislature and then in the courts, what's a hack like Gerson to do but double down on his party's mendacity.

Gerson was, of course, an important cog in the wheel of the Bush Administration's misinformation machine. The machine for which popular opinion was a meaningless distraction. The public is starting to oppose war with Iraq? "Well then, let's get the invasion underway - the public always comes around when the bombs start dropping." The public opposes privatizing Social Security? "Well then, let's find a different word to use. How does 'private accounts' sound?" The public wants to know who met with Dick Cheney when he was forming the Administration's energy policy? "Well, it's tempting to scoff or laugh, but let's stick with stonewalling for now."

But when it's the other guy in office, Michael Gerson is suddenly all for government by plebiscite. Gerson can't even be honest about public sentiment. He whines about the Affordable Care Act, "Change came in the form of a law that a plurality of Americans opposed", but he knows full well that the opposition was in no small part a result of Republican demagoguery and misinformation. He wasn't the worst of the bunch, but he played an eager and happy role in that misinformation campaign.

He knew then, just as he knows now, that the only significant part of "Obamacare" that polled poorly was the individual mandate - that pretty much every other significant reform element, when people understood what they were asked about, received majority support. He focuses on the bill as a whole because it advances his narrative - the lie he and his party keep telling the nation, not because they believe that the public doesn't like "Obamacare" but because they're terrified that it will succeed.

Yes, that's right, they're terrified of its success. If they believed a tenth of their demagoguery, they would allow the ACA to come into full effect and let people see for themselves how bad it is. It's easy to repeal unpopular laws. They live in abject terror of a popular, successful reform that brings insurance to tens of millions of people who are presently uninsured or underinsured. So their effort has been to keep that from happening - and to tell as many lies as necessary to provoke public suspicion, concern and opposition.

Gerson has good company in today's Republican Party, because his position is essentially that of a coward. If you're trying to advance what you believe to be good policy, or at least the best policy you can implement given political reality, and run into a political headwind, you should abandon ship, run for the hills, scurry off the sinking ship like a terrified rat. Perhaps that's how he perceives his ex-boss's abandonment of immigration reform and Social Security reform, or McCain's abandonment of immigration reform, campaign finance reform, cap and trade.... The ultimate politician is a Mitt Romney, a guy with no core beliefs, a guy who's always chasing the latest poll, a guy who will discard his most significant (and arguably only) significant political achievement in the name of winning an election. I would like to say that nobody in their right mind would confuse Gerson's brand of cowardice with leadership but... while you can't fool all of the people all of the time, Gerson and friends are happy to shoot for 51%.

Listen to Gerson's platitudinous nonsense:
Obamacare matters in the current election not only because its future is at stake but for what its passage tells us about Obama as a leader. He is stubborn, which can be an admirable trait when applied to the public interest. But on health-care reform, Obama combined stubbornness with ideological predictability and partisan ruthlessness — imposing a very conventional liberalism in the Chicago way.
Obama is "stubborn" - a good thing if it means advancing Gerson's political agenda, really that of his party, but a terrible thing if it means advancing any other agenda. To pass legislation with a significant majority in the House, a 60 vote majority in the Senate, and then to reconcile minor differences in the bill based upon majority support in the Senate? That's anti-democratic. Not at all like the Bush-era tax cuts that shot our deficits through the roof and create a lingering hangover for our nation, crammed through the Senate by reconciliation in Bush's first term based upon a series of patently false promises. Who was heading up the team tasked with spinning that sow's ear into a silk purse? Oh, yeah....

For goodness sake, "the Chicago way"? Can't Gerson try to be even a little bit creative, to try to disguise his silly and childish attacks as something other than warmed over Republican demagoguery? Is he unable to conjure up a novel turn of phrase without the help of David Frum? To find fresh poison to inject into the public discourse without the help of Marc Thiessen? (Lord, what a dream team that was.)

Gerson continues to whine that Obama failed to broker a "grand budget compromise in 2011", a failure attributed to his demand that a significant part of the balancing of the budget come in the form of tax increases, then goes on to whine about forthcoming "large issues" - "avoiding the fiscal cliff, reforming the tax code, making entitlement commitments more sustainable". Never mind that the "fiscal cliff" is of little concern to anybody but pundits and demagogues - here in the real world we know that Congress will act to prevent that "cliff" from having any meaningful impact on the economy or defense spending. Never mind that Obama's "grand bargain" proposals included significant entitlement reform, and that the very legislation Gerson rails about, "Obamacare", implements cost-saving reforms - and that it has been Gerson's own Republican Party that has demagogued against the Medicare cuts that are part of that legislation. Never mind that "reforming the tax code" is a meaningless phrase - you may as well whimper that the President hasn't spent enough time reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Gerson closes by suggesting that if Obama doesn't "become an entirely different type of leader", by which he apparently means a spineless Republican, we should conclude that "America needs a new one". I guess it's fortunate for Gerson that a man who shares his complete lack of integrity, and endorses Gerson's apparent notion that "presidential leadership" is best demonstrated by following the latest opinion poll, is presently the Republican presidential nominee.

1 comment:

  1. Joe the Dumber10/30/12, 12:44 AM

    Gerson's a moron.

    I don't recall voting for Scott Brown, so I see no reason to think that the election of Scott Brown as a referendum on healthcare reform - at lest not one I should care about. You're right that Gerson's a liar, because Brown's victory resulted in large part from the entitled, incompetent campaign run by his opponent. Brown also rallied on anti-tax sentiments driven by state tax increases, despite federal tax cuts.

    Gerson's not even being honest about Brown's campaign, which was to "slow down" healthcare reform to "get it right" not to kill it, and to exploit a "what's in it for us" attitude in a state that had already enacted an extremely similar bill, although if he is talking about how right-wing organizations poured $millions into Brown's campaign in the hope of killing the PPACA I'll give him that much.

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