Saturday, February 27, 2010

Belated Thoughts on the Health Care Summit

FactCheck has a rundown of some of the more egregious errors and distortions here.

I think the president came off looking pretty bad in his dust up with John McCain. I was particularly taken aback by this response:

We can have a debate about process or we can have a debate about how we're going to help the American people at this point. And the latter debate is the one I think they care about a little bit more.
I don't know whether the "American people" concerned about product more than process at this point, but the president's snarky dismissal of McCain's point set me on edge.

One of the reasons that I voted for Senator Obama was because he seemed to actually care about the process. Transparency was one of the central planks in his platform. He continually railed against special-interests and backroom deal-making. He called for honesty and integrity in politics. And he eschewed the Machiavellian tactics of the Clinton campaign.

For him to now play the world-wise pragmatist is a bit disconcerting. Process is, in my view, just as essential as product.

And McCain is right -- there was no justification for provisions like the "Cornhusker Kickback" or any of the myriad of exemptions and special privileges that Democratic lawmakers carved out for their individual states.

But it's not just the sweetheat deals. I also have to agree with Ross Douthat here:

I look at liberal commentators and see a group that’s intent on being on-side against Republicans, and that’s willing to downplay significant weaknesses in major legislation (be it the stimulus, cap-and-trade, or now health care) in the quest to get things done.
I understand the frustration that most progressives feel. This has been a long, drawn-out debate, and many of the Republican attacks have been unjustified and unsportsmanlike. John Boehner's remarks toward the end of the Summit -- which seemed to begin magnanimously, but quickly descended into fear-mongering -- perfectly illustrate why so many on the left want to see health care reform forced through in reconciliation.

But I fear that, while Republicans appear to be balking at everything, Democrats remain single-mindedly focused on passing something -- regardless of whether it's good policy. Both parties deserve immense criticism here. The Republican antics are despicable, but the response from Democrats has been shameful . . . and politically troubling to those of us who actually care about how things get done.

It's just as dangerous to be overzealous as obstructionist.

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