Commentary Magazine


Topic: Jeffrey Anderson

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, Redux

Some liberals — including the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, who insisted in late 2008 and early 2009 that ObamaCare would be a great political success for Obama and the Democrats — continue to claim that they were right all along. The argument goes something like this: Obama’s troubles, which they can no longer deny, are completely unrelated to Obama’s signature domestic achievement. They have to do with “structural factors.” Health-care legislation, you see, has nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. But the evidence continues to shatter this claim. The Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey Anderson covers some of it here and here. And now we find out (courtesy of RealClearPolitics) that Democrat Joe Manchin, running for the open Senate seat in West Virginia, is joining the GOP’s call to repeal some pieces of health-care reform.

Hard as it is to imagine, people running for office have an even keener sense of what voters want, and don’t want, than writers at TNR. And the fact that few Democrats, if any, are running ads based on their support for ObamaCare, and many are now distancing themselves from it, tells you most of what you need to know.

Chait is working very hard to salvage his credibility — not an easy task, I grant you. (In addition to his health-care counsel, Chait declared that there was “something genuinely bizarre” about those Americans who supported President Bush’s surge strategy in Iraq. “It is not just that they are wrong,” he wrote in early 2007. “It’s that they are completely detached from reality.”) To that end, he is even beginning to anticipate ObamaCare’s failure — and, shockingly, Chait seems ready to blame the GOP. “If they [Republicans] can make the health care law fail by sabotaging its implemetation [sic], the public is going to hold President Obama responsible for the results, and Republicans will benefit politically,” according to Chait.

Chait is once again unraveling the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Those devilish Republicans are going to wreck Obama’s fantastically popular piece of legislation by sabotage-through-implementation and then take advantage of the ignorant, unwashed masses, who don’t realize just how wonderful ObamaCare really is.

Like the Psalmist, Jonathan Chait is crying out: “How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked be jubilant?”

My guess is at least until November 3.

Some liberals — including the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, who insisted in late 2008 and early 2009 that ObamaCare would be a great political success for Obama and the Democrats — continue to claim that they were right all along. The argument goes something like this: Obama’s troubles, which they can no longer deny, are completely unrelated to Obama’s signature domestic achievement. They have to do with “structural factors.” Health-care legislation, you see, has nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. But the evidence continues to shatter this claim. The Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey Anderson covers some of it here and here. And now we find out (courtesy of RealClearPolitics) that Democrat Joe Manchin, running for the open Senate seat in West Virginia, is joining the GOP’s call to repeal some pieces of health-care reform.

Hard as it is to imagine, people running for office have an even keener sense of what voters want, and don’t want, than writers at TNR. And the fact that few Democrats, if any, are running ads based on their support for ObamaCare, and many are now distancing themselves from it, tells you most of what you need to know.

Chait is working very hard to salvage his credibility — not an easy task, I grant you. (In addition to his health-care counsel, Chait declared that there was “something genuinely bizarre” about those Americans who supported President Bush’s surge strategy in Iraq. “It is not just that they are wrong,” he wrote in early 2007. “It’s that they are completely detached from reality.”) To that end, he is even beginning to anticipate ObamaCare’s failure — and, shockingly, Chait seems ready to blame the GOP. “If they [Republicans] can make the health care law fail by sabotaging its implemetation [sic], the public is going to hold President Obama responsible for the results, and Republicans will benefit politically,” according to Chait.

Chait is once again unraveling the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Those devilish Republicans are going to wreck Obama’s fantastically popular piece of legislation by sabotage-through-implementation and then take advantage of the ignorant, unwashed masses, who don’t realize just how wonderful ObamaCare really is.

Like the Psalmist, Jonathan Chait is crying out: “How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked be jubilant?”

My guess is at least until November 3.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

But it was supposed to help the Democrats: “Gallup’s most recent polling of the generic ballot shows a net five-point bounce for the Republicans, post-health care passage. The poll of registered voters now shows a lead of 47%-44%; Republicans had trailed by a similar 47%-44% margin in the first and second weeks of March, and by a 47%-45% margin in last week’s tracking results.  The loss for the Democrats comes mostly from independent voters; the gain for Republicans comes from Republican and Democratic voters turning toward the GOP.”

But it hasn’t, explains Jeffrey Anderson: “The Democrats had optimistically claimed that turning a deaf ear to the American people and passing their unpopular bill would make it popular. But Scott Rasmussen observes that ‘the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed it before now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.’ Unfortunately for the Democrats, the former number is a lot bigger than the latter one.”

But Obama said voters would learn to love it once it passed: “In addition to sharing Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns about the bill’s failure to address healthcare costs, and sharing Republicans’ concerns about government intervention and costs, the majority of independents agree with Democrats that the bill doesn’t do enough to regulate the healthcare industry. As a result, independents concur with four of the five critiques tested, one more than members of either political party do.”

But Obama said voters didn’t care about “process”: Gallup asked “whether Americans believe the methods Democratic leaders used to secure passage of the bill represented ‘an abuse of power’ or ‘an appropriate use’ of the majority party’s power in Congress. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans see it as abuse of power, whereas a smaller majority of Democrats (70%) call it an appropriate use of power. The majority of independents agree with most Republicans on this question.”

But the Republican insiders told us that Charlie Crist was the “safe” choice: “Former FL GOP chair Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation after an audit showed he may have profited from party activity, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. … Under pressure from major donors and party elders, Greer announced in early Jan. he would resign in Feb. Donors had been upset with his stewardship of party finances, and with spending many saw as beneficial to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Greer’s major backer when he became chair. Greer is supporting Crist in the primary against ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), which did not sit well with the state’s activist base.”

But don’t they know that Henry Waxman will haul them in front of his committee to read them the riot act? “Boeing Co. will take a charge of $150 million due to the recent health care overhaul legislation, the aircraft maker said Wednesday. The charge will hurt earnings by 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. In 2013 Boeing will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction related to certain prescription drug benefits for retirees. Accounting rules require that the company take the charge during the period the legislation is enacted. Several other companies have said they will take accounting charges due to the health care reform bill including AT&T, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co.”

But what about the rest of the country? “The top House Republican says the White House’s decision to begin offshore drilling across huge expanses of ocean is a ‘positive step,’ but he’s still blasting the Obama administration for keeping areas on the West Coast closed to such exploration. House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that the administration ‘continues to defy the will of the American people,’ who he says supported a 2008 congressional decision to allow oil exploration off the Pacific Coast and Alaska.”

But Obama was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent and “pivot” from ObamaCare to job creation: “Private-sector employers unexpectedly shed 23,000 jobs in March, according to a measure of private-sector employment released this morning, reminding us of the very choppy nature of this recovery.”

But it was supposed to help the Democrats: “Gallup’s most recent polling of the generic ballot shows a net five-point bounce for the Republicans, post-health care passage. The poll of registered voters now shows a lead of 47%-44%; Republicans had trailed by a similar 47%-44% margin in the first and second weeks of March, and by a 47%-45% margin in last week’s tracking results.  The loss for the Democrats comes mostly from independent voters; the gain for Republicans comes from Republican and Democratic voters turning toward the GOP.”

But it hasn’t, explains Jeffrey Anderson: “The Democrats had optimistically claimed that turning a deaf ear to the American people and passing their unpopular bill would make it popular. But Scott Rasmussen observes that ‘the overriding tone of the data is that passage of the legislation has not changed anything. Those who opposed it before now want to repeal it. Those who supported the legislation oppose repealing it.’ Unfortunately for the Democrats, the former number is a lot bigger than the latter one.”

But Obama said voters would learn to love it once it passed: “In addition to sharing Republicans’ and Democrats’ concerns about the bill’s failure to address healthcare costs, and sharing Republicans’ concerns about government intervention and costs, the majority of independents agree with Democrats that the bill doesn’t do enough to regulate the healthcare industry. As a result, independents concur with four of the five critiques tested, one more than members of either political party do.”

But Obama said voters didn’t care about “process”: Gallup asked “whether Americans believe the methods Democratic leaders used to secure passage of the bill represented ‘an abuse of power’ or ‘an appropriate use’ of the majority party’s power in Congress. Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans see it as abuse of power, whereas a smaller majority of Democrats (70%) call it an appropriate use of power. The majority of independents agree with most Republicans on this question.”

But the Republican insiders told us that Charlie Crist was the “safe” choice: “Former FL GOP chair Jim Greer is the subject of a criminal investigation after an audit showed he may have profited from party activity, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. … Under pressure from major donors and party elders, Greer announced in early Jan. he would resign in Feb. Donors had been upset with his stewardship of party finances, and with spending many saw as beneficial to Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Greer’s major backer when he became chair. Greer is supporting Crist in the primary against ex-FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), which did not sit well with the state’s activist base.”

But don’t they know that Henry Waxman will haul them in front of his committee to read them the riot act? “Boeing Co. will take a charge of $150 million due to the recent health care overhaul legislation, the aircraft maker said Wednesday. The charge will hurt earnings by 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2010. In 2013 Boeing will no longer be able to claim an income tax deduction related to certain prescription drug benefits for retirees. Accounting rules require that the company take the charge during the period the legislation is enacted. Several other companies have said they will take accounting charges due to the health care reform bill including AT&T, AK Steel Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and 3M Co.”

But what about the rest of the country? “The top House Republican says the White House’s decision to begin offshore drilling across huge expanses of ocean is a ‘positive step,’ but he’s still blasting the Obama administration for keeping areas on the West Coast closed to such exploration. House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that the administration ‘continues to defy the will of the American people,’ who he says supported a 2008 congressional decision to allow oil exploration off the Pacific Coast and Alaska.”

But Obama was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent and “pivot” from ObamaCare to job creation: “Private-sector employers unexpectedly shed 23,000 jobs in March, according to a measure of private-sector employment released this morning, reminding us of the very choppy nature of this recovery.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Eric Holder’s misstatements and gaffe-prone performance in front of Congress earlier this year lead the administration to … fire him? No! Delay the next round of testimony.

Even before ObamaCare, the Democrats were in trouble in Indiana: “Two of the three top Republican hopefuls for the U.S. Senate in Indiana continue to hold double-digit leads over Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth. Ellsworth supported President Obama’s health care plan in a state where opposition to the legislation is higher than it is nationally.” But post-ObamaCare, it may get worse: “Just 35% of Indiana voters favor the plan proposed by the president and congressional Democrats, while 63% oppose it.”

Republicans in a number of key Senate races are running on their pro-Israel credentials, while Democrats “must straddle” the divide in their own party between pro- and anti-Israel voters. Tevi Troy: “Support for Israel is one of those issues, like anti-communism used to be, that holds together a number of pieces of the conservative movement, including evangelicals but also neocons, economic conservatives and foreign policy hawks.”

So it begins: “Attorneys general from 13 states are suing the federal government to stop the massive health care overhaul, claiming it’s unconstitutional.”

Not deficit neutral? “The newly passed overhaul of the nation’s health care system is expected to push expenses ‘out of sight’ and cost the country ‘a couple trillion dollars,’ Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, told CNBC.”

And the chattering class was convinced Sarah Palin was the uncouth, vulgar VP candidate in 2008. Well, they also said Obama was a moderate.

Jeffrey Anderson reminds us that ObamaCare won’t really take hold “unless President Obama wins reelection, or unless enough Obamacare-supporting Democrats remain in Congress to thwart the following five-word agenda: Repeal, and then real reform. Based on CBO projections over the next decade, only 1 percent of the legislation’s costs will have kicked in over the next three years. The CBO projections cover the 2010 to 2019 stretch of Obamacare, with most entitlements not kicking in until 2014. So, most of Obamacare will not be implemented out until after the next two elections. We’ll see if the American people freely choose to send enough Obamacare-supporting Democrats — including President Obama — back to Washington, to complete their perhaps unprecedented project of ignoring the people’s will.”

John McCain or Chuck Schumer on Obama’s Iran engagement policy? “Diplomatic efforts have clearly failed. I believe that when it comes to Iran, we should never take the military option off the table. But I have long argued that economic sanctions are arguably the most effective way to choke Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

From Democratic Public Policy Polling: “It’s really looking like a brutal year for Democrats in the Big Ten states. … If the election was today Democrats would likely lose something they currently hold in every state where they have something to lose- Pennsylvania Governor and perhaps Senate, Michigan Governor, Ohio Governor, Indiana Senate, Iowa Governor, Wisconsin Governor and perhaps Senate, and Illinois Senate and/or Governor. Only Minnesota doesn’t join the party because Democrats have nothing to lose there. What all this really makes me wonder is just how many House seats Democrats are going to lose in the region this year.”

Eric Holder’s misstatements and gaffe-prone performance in front of Congress earlier this year lead the administration to … fire him? No! Delay the next round of testimony.

Even before ObamaCare, the Democrats were in trouble in Indiana: “Two of the three top Republican hopefuls for the U.S. Senate in Indiana continue to hold double-digit leads over Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth. Ellsworth supported President Obama’s health care plan in a state where opposition to the legislation is higher than it is nationally.” But post-ObamaCare, it may get worse: “Just 35% of Indiana voters favor the plan proposed by the president and congressional Democrats, while 63% oppose it.”

Republicans in a number of key Senate races are running on their pro-Israel credentials, while Democrats “must straddle” the divide in their own party between pro- and anti-Israel voters. Tevi Troy: “Support for Israel is one of those issues, like anti-communism used to be, that holds together a number of pieces of the conservative movement, including evangelicals but also neocons, economic conservatives and foreign policy hawks.”

So it begins: “Attorneys general from 13 states are suing the federal government to stop the massive health care overhaul, claiming it’s unconstitutional.”

Not deficit neutral? “The newly passed overhaul of the nation’s health care system is expected to push expenses ‘out of sight’ and cost the country ‘a couple trillion dollars,’ Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, told CNBC.”

And the chattering class was convinced Sarah Palin was the uncouth, vulgar VP candidate in 2008. Well, they also said Obama was a moderate.

Jeffrey Anderson reminds us that ObamaCare won’t really take hold “unless President Obama wins reelection, or unless enough Obamacare-supporting Democrats remain in Congress to thwart the following five-word agenda: Repeal, and then real reform. Based on CBO projections over the next decade, only 1 percent of the legislation’s costs will have kicked in over the next three years. The CBO projections cover the 2010 to 2019 stretch of Obamacare, with most entitlements not kicking in until 2014. So, most of Obamacare will not be implemented out until after the next two elections. We’ll see if the American people freely choose to send enough Obamacare-supporting Democrats — including President Obama — back to Washington, to complete their perhaps unprecedented project of ignoring the people’s will.”

John McCain or Chuck Schumer on Obama’s Iran engagement policy? “Diplomatic efforts have clearly failed. I believe that when it comes to Iran, we should never take the military option off the table. But I have long argued that economic sanctions are arguably the most effective way to choke Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

From Democratic Public Policy Polling: “It’s really looking like a brutal year for Democrats in the Big Ten states. … If the election was today Democrats would likely lose something they currently hold in every state where they have something to lose- Pennsylvania Governor and perhaps Senate, Michigan Governor, Ohio Governor, Indiana Senate, Iowa Governor, Wisconsin Governor and perhaps Senate, and Illinois Senate and/or Governor. Only Minnesota doesn’t join the party because Democrats have nothing to lose there. What all this really makes me wonder is just how many House seats Democrats are going to lose in the region this year.”

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The Reconciliation Dodge

House Democrats should be wary, says Sen. Judd Gregg, who smells a set-up on “reconciliation.” He explains:

“If you’re in the House and you’re saying, ‘Well, I’m going to vote for this because I’m going to get a reconcilation bill,’ I would think twice about that,” Gregg said. “First because, procedurally, it’s going to be hard to put a reconciliation bill through the Senate. Second because I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of energy to do it, from the president or his people.”

“In my opinion, reconciliation is an exercise for buying votes, which, once they have the votes they really don’t need it,” he said.

And indeed, some House Democrats such as Shelley Berkley smell a rat. (“I would like something more concrete than a promise. The Senate cannot promise its way out of a brown paper bag.”) And if the House Democrats walk the plank but there is no reconciliation fix by the Senate, what then? Jeffrey Anderson sketched out the nightmare scenario:

Target squarely on their chests, they would now get to face their fuming constituents after having passed a $2.5 trillion bill that would allow public funding of abortion, would send $100 million to Nebraska, $300 million to Louisiana, $100 million to Connecticut, would exempt South Florida’s Medicare Advantage enrollees from annual $2,100 cuts in Medicare Advantage benefits, would raise taxes, raise deficits, raise health costs, empower Washington, reduce liberty, politicize medicine, and jeopardize the quality of health care.  Most of all, they would feel the citizenry’s wrath for having voted to pass a bill that only 25 percent of Americans support.

What in such circumstances should wary House Democrats do? Well, voting “no” and proposing a bare-bones, focused list of reforms might be a good idea. But who thinks Pelosi would go along with that gambit? She intends to make her members walk the plank. Unless and until she is convinced she will lose a floor vote, she’ll keep twisting arms and promising that ObamaCare’s passage is just around the corner. But of course, if they had the votes, they’d be voting. But they don’t — in large part because House Democrats have wised up.

House Democrats should be wary, says Sen. Judd Gregg, who smells a set-up on “reconciliation.” He explains:

“If you’re in the House and you’re saying, ‘Well, I’m going to vote for this because I’m going to get a reconcilation bill,’ I would think twice about that,” Gregg said. “First because, procedurally, it’s going to be hard to put a reconciliation bill through the Senate. Second because I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of energy to do it, from the president or his people.”

“In my opinion, reconciliation is an exercise for buying votes, which, once they have the votes they really don’t need it,” he said.

And indeed, some House Democrats such as Shelley Berkley smell a rat. (“I would like something more concrete than a promise. The Senate cannot promise its way out of a brown paper bag.”) And if the House Democrats walk the plank but there is no reconciliation fix by the Senate, what then? Jeffrey Anderson sketched out the nightmare scenario:

Target squarely on their chests, they would now get to face their fuming constituents after having passed a $2.5 trillion bill that would allow public funding of abortion, would send $100 million to Nebraska, $300 million to Louisiana, $100 million to Connecticut, would exempt South Florida’s Medicare Advantage enrollees from annual $2,100 cuts in Medicare Advantage benefits, would raise taxes, raise deficits, raise health costs, empower Washington, reduce liberty, politicize medicine, and jeopardize the quality of health care.  Most of all, they would feel the citizenry’s wrath for having voted to pass a bill that only 25 percent of Americans support.

What in such circumstances should wary House Democrats do? Well, voting “no” and proposing a bare-bones, focused list of reforms might be a good idea. But who thinks Pelosi would go along with that gambit? She intends to make her members walk the plank. Unless and until she is convinced she will lose a floor vote, she’ll keep twisting arms and promising that ObamaCare’s passage is just around the corner. But of course, if they had the votes, they’d be voting. But they don’t — in large part because House Democrats have wised up.

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What Will They Run On?

This is from Hotline, not the Onion: “House Dems will spend the Pres. Day recess marking the one-year anniversary of the $787B stimulus act, embracing a bill that has them in some political hot water.” Perhaps Nancy Pelosi has a wry sense of humor. She’s sent a memo to her fellow Democrats telling them to pull out all the stops: “Pelosi’s memo offers suggestions for events highlighting the stimulus’s impact, talking points issued by VP Biden’s office and information on jobs, small business benefits and infrastructure projects by district.” Then again, she might be completely out to lunch.

It seems impossible that Pelosi would still imagine that the stimulus bill is a winning issue. After all the polling showing the overwhelming majority of voters dubious about the merits of the bill and the unemployment rate well in excess of 8 percent, which the Obami promised would be the ceiling for unemployment if we only spent another $787B we didn’t have to begin with, how can she send her troops out to tout this much derided non-accomplishment?

Well, let’s face it: the Democrats haven’t done anything else. It’s not as if the Lilly Ledbetter law is going to get the crowds on their feet. It’s not as if House Democrats can brag of having walked the plank on cap-and-trade only to have it stall in the Senate. The stimulus bill is all they have, you see.

In that respect the liberal bloggers and the double-down-on-ObamaCare contingent have a point: without some other significant accomplishment, the Democrats will have a measly record to run on in November. Passing a monstrous health-care bill that everyone hates may not be the solution, of course. The opposition is riled up enough and independents are wary enough of the Democrats’ big-government power grabs.

However, the need to have some accomplishment on which to campaign does suggest that the Democrats would be wise to come up with a popular version of health-care reform, along the lines which the Republicans have been touting. Jeffrey Anderson suggests: “The president would stand a better chance of success if he could bring himself to consider sensible, targeted solutions designed to achieve incremental but tangible gains.” Changing the tax treatment of individually purchased insurance plans and “ending runaway malpractice lawsuits, allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines, and allowing companies to offer lower premiums for healthier lifestyles” are a few measures that would likely gain bipartisan support and give the Democrats something real to crow about.

But the Democrats are locked into an all-or-nothing approach to health care, at least for now. Maybe it will require some of Pelosi’s members getting hooted down in derision back home before the the Democrats realize they can’t win on a failed stimulus plan and a scary, unpassed health-care bill.

This is from Hotline, not the Onion: “House Dems will spend the Pres. Day recess marking the one-year anniversary of the $787B stimulus act, embracing a bill that has them in some political hot water.” Perhaps Nancy Pelosi has a wry sense of humor. She’s sent a memo to her fellow Democrats telling them to pull out all the stops: “Pelosi’s memo offers suggestions for events highlighting the stimulus’s impact, talking points issued by VP Biden’s office and information on jobs, small business benefits and infrastructure projects by district.” Then again, she might be completely out to lunch.

It seems impossible that Pelosi would still imagine that the stimulus bill is a winning issue. After all the polling showing the overwhelming majority of voters dubious about the merits of the bill and the unemployment rate well in excess of 8 percent, which the Obami promised would be the ceiling for unemployment if we only spent another $787B we didn’t have to begin with, how can she send her troops out to tout this much derided non-accomplishment?

Well, let’s face it: the Democrats haven’t done anything else. It’s not as if the Lilly Ledbetter law is going to get the crowds on their feet. It’s not as if House Democrats can brag of having walked the plank on cap-and-trade only to have it stall in the Senate. The stimulus bill is all they have, you see.

In that respect the liberal bloggers and the double-down-on-ObamaCare contingent have a point: without some other significant accomplishment, the Democrats will have a measly record to run on in November. Passing a monstrous health-care bill that everyone hates may not be the solution, of course. The opposition is riled up enough and independents are wary enough of the Democrats’ big-government power grabs.

However, the need to have some accomplishment on which to campaign does suggest that the Democrats would be wise to come up with a popular version of health-care reform, along the lines which the Republicans have been touting. Jeffrey Anderson suggests: “The president would stand a better chance of success if he could bring himself to consider sensible, targeted solutions designed to achieve incremental but tangible gains.” Changing the tax treatment of individually purchased insurance plans and “ending runaway malpractice lawsuits, allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines, and allowing companies to offer lower premiums for healthier lifestyles” are a few measures that would likely gain bipartisan support and give the Democrats something real to crow about.

But the Democrats are locked into an all-or-nothing approach to health care, at least for now. Maybe it will require some of Pelosi’s members getting hooted down in derision back home before the the Democrats realize they can’t win on a failed stimulus plan and a scary, unpassed health-care bill.

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The Perils of Professors

Obama is getting flack from his own party for lacking the common touch, failing to connect with ordinary voters, and struggling to identify with Middle America. The mainstream media is baffled because, they say, he came from a middle-class background. What’s the problem? They are stumped.

Much of the problem is that his background isn’t so much middle class as it is academic. A large chunk of his adult life has been spent attending, teaching in, and living in close proximity to elite universities. The intellectual bent (e.g., disdainful of American exceptionalism, ignorant of the workings of free-market capitalism, infatuated with the public sector) and the posture (e.g., remote, condescending) of liberal academics are evident in Obama’s persona and governing style. And his saturation in Left-leaning elite schools certainly explain much of what ails him.

Jeffrey Anderson spots some evidence of this in Obama’s Super Bowl interview. Anderson recounts Obama’s explanation of the unwinding of his beloved health-care proposal:

Look, I would have loved nothing better than to simply come up with some very elegant, you know, academically approved approach to health care [that] didn’t have any kinds of legislative fingerprints on it, and just go ahead and have that passed. But that’s not how it works in our democracy. Unfortunately what we end up having to do is to do a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people.

Yes, all that grubby democracy and so much compromise are such annoyances. If only they would swallow his prescribed syllabus whole, we’d be able to move on to the next round. (Micromanaging all carbon emissions, perhaps.) Anderson comments:

Our democratic process, our separation of powers, and our federalist design frustrate Obama. But, far from being unfortunate, the negotiations and multiple levels of approval that they require, from a myriad of different citizens, is largely what secures our liberty — protecting it from those who would otherwise impose their own comprehensive goals from their lofty theoretical perches. The Founders were surely not Obama’s intellectual inferiors, but they were practical men. The Constitutional Convention was nothing if not high-level give-and-take, tinkering and refining. One imagines Obama showing up at Independence Hall with his own plan in hand (probably adapted from Rousseau’s in The Social Contract, with Obama cast in the role of the Legislator) and being surprised when the other delegates resisted his eloquence and, correspondingly, his proposal.

In Obama, that mindset is combined with a prickly personality unaccustomed to criticism. So we get the insular, defensive, and often down-right nasty reaction to criticism from mere citizens and from news or polling outfits who don’t properly reflect the wisdom that the Obami believe is emanating from the White House. We’ve see the smarter-and-holier-than-thou attitude in everything, from the lectures on race in Gatesgate to the demonization of attendees at town-hall meetings.

And, of course, academics don’t do that much but write, converse among themselves, and lecture to unappreciative undergraduates. They aren’t responsible for achieving much of anything. They aren’t obligated to conform their theories to the realities of the world. So too with Obama, we see that his preference for grandiose regulatory and health-care schemes lacks a basic understanding of how private industry operates. He seems oblivious to the incentives and disincentives that motivate employers. And in foreign policy as well, grand theories (e.g., Iran engagement, the effort to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel to promote the “peace process”) collide with reality, leaving the smart diplomats bruised and embarrassed (if they had enough self-awareness to be ashamed of their results).

The media was mesmerized by an elite-credentialed author and law professor who seemed so very cool and so intellectually compatible with themselves. But the Harvard Law Review and Con Law 101 don’t prepare one for the presidency. Indeed, it turns out that those who are attracted to such endeavors may lack the stuff of successful presidents — common sense, appreciation for the private enterprise, toleration of criticism, attention to the bottom line, etc. Next time, maybe we should look for someone who fits less well into the Ivy League and more comfortably into the private sector and Middle America. The better presidents, after all, can hire academics — and learn when to ignore them when their advice proves impractical or downright foolish.

Obama is getting flack from his own party for lacking the common touch, failing to connect with ordinary voters, and struggling to identify with Middle America. The mainstream media is baffled because, they say, he came from a middle-class background. What’s the problem? They are stumped.

Much of the problem is that his background isn’t so much middle class as it is academic. A large chunk of his adult life has been spent attending, teaching in, and living in close proximity to elite universities. The intellectual bent (e.g., disdainful of American exceptionalism, ignorant of the workings of free-market capitalism, infatuated with the public sector) and the posture (e.g., remote, condescending) of liberal academics are evident in Obama’s persona and governing style. And his saturation in Left-leaning elite schools certainly explain much of what ails him.

Jeffrey Anderson spots some evidence of this in Obama’s Super Bowl interview. Anderson recounts Obama’s explanation of the unwinding of his beloved health-care proposal:

Look, I would have loved nothing better than to simply come up with some very elegant, you know, academically approved approach to health care [that] didn’t have any kinds of legislative fingerprints on it, and just go ahead and have that passed. But that’s not how it works in our democracy. Unfortunately what we end up having to do is to do a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people.

Yes, all that grubby democracy and so much compromise are such annoyances. If only they would swallow his prescribed syllabus whole, we’d be able to move on to the next round. (Micromanaging all carbon emissions, perhaps.) Anderson comments:

Our democratic process, our separation of powers, and our federalist design frustrate Obama. But, far from being unfortunate, the negotiations and multiple levels of approval that they require, from a myriad of different citizens, is largely what secures our liberty — protecting it from those who would otherwise impose their own comprehensive goals from their lofty theoretical perches. The Founders were surely not Obama’s intellectual inferiors, but they were practical men. The Constitutional Convention was nothing if not high-level give-and-take, tinkering and refining. One imagines Obama showing up at Independence Hall with his own plan in hand (probably adapted from Rousseau’s in The Social Contract, with Obama cast in the role of the Legislator) and being surprised when the other delegates resisted his eloquence and, correspondingly, his proposal.

In Obama, that mindset is combined with a prickly personality unaccustomed to criticism. So we get the insular, defensive, and often down-right nasty reaction to criticism from mere citizens and from news or polling outfits who don’t properly reflect the wisdom that the Obami believe is emanating from the White House. We’ve see the smarter-and-holier-than-thou attitude in everything, from the lectures on race in Gatesgate to the demonization of attendees at town-hall meetings.

And, of course, academics don’t do that much but write, converse among themselves, and lecture to unappreciative undergraduates. They aren’t responsible for achieving much of anything. They aren’t obligated to conform their theories to the realities of the world. So too with Obama, we see that his preference for grandiose regulatory and health-care schemes lacks a basic understanding of how private industry operates. He seems oblivious to the incentives and disincentives that motivate employers. And in foreign policy as well, grand theories (e.g., Iran engagement, the effort to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel to promote the “peace process”) collide with reality, leaving the smart diplomats bruised and embarrassed (if they had enough self-awareness to be ashamed of their results).

The media was mesmerized by an elite-credentialed author and law professor who seemed so very cool and so intellectually compatible with themselves. But the Harvard Law Review and Con Law 101 don’t prepare one for the presidency. Indeed, it turns out that those who are attracted to such endeavors may lack the stuff of successful presidents — common sense, appreciation for the private enterprise, toleration of criticism, attention to the bottom line, etc. Next time, maybe we should look for someone who fits less well into the Ivy League and more comfortably into the private sector and Middle America. The better presidents, after all, can hire academics — and learn when to ignore them when their advice proves impractical or downright foolish.

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Maybe They Should Read the Fine Print

The Democrats have long insisted that ObamaCare can be sold to the public if only the poor, uninformed masses understood what was in it. But with every revelation about the specifics of ObamaCare, one is obliged to exclaim, “How could they vote for that?” A case in point is Medicare Advantage. Jeffrey Anderson explains:

According to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections, in its real first ten years (2014 to 2023), Obamacare would cut Medicare Advantage benefits by $214 billion. Medicare Advantage plans vary by company and region, so cuts would vary from person to person. But, on average, Obamacare would cut Medicare Advantage enrollee’s benefits by $21,000 — per person.

As Anderson notes, Medicare Advantage — which allows patients to choose their own private providers — won’t be fairly and equally administered if the Cash for Cloture backroom deals go into effect. “Thanks to the ‘Gator Aid’ deal that Sen. Harry Reid struck behind closed doors with Sen. Bill Nelson, seniors in South Florida would be exempt.” So seniors in California represented by Sen. Barbara Boxer and those in Pennsylvania who rely on Sen. Arlen Specter to look out for them will get a worse deal, and worse health-care coverage, than the Gator Aided seniors. Where’s the “reform” in that?

This deal-making tells us two things. First, the deal that California, Pennsylvania, and other non-Gator Aided seniors got is a bad one. Otherwise Bill Nelson would not have fought to get his constituents out from under the new regime. And second, any senator who voted for ObamaCare without getting a special deal was, bluntly speaking, asleep at the legislative wheel. Even if they like the idea of health care Obama-style, voters are going to want to know why their own senator wasn’t as adroit as Bill Nelson.

Now, one “solution” could be — if ObamaCare survives the Massachusetts Senate vote count — to strip out all the special deals. That would at least put everyone on the same footing. And then voters would get an inkling of just what a rotten deal ObamaCare is for seniors.

So those intent on “selling” ObamaCare to wary voters might want to read what’s in it before they go out selling. It could be that once more and more details are revealed, ObamaCare, if it manages to squeak through, will prove to be even more unpopular than it is now.

The Democrats have long insisted that ObamaCare can be sold to the public if only the poor, uninformed masses understood what was in it. But with every revelation about the specifics of ObamaCare, one is obliged to exclaim, “How could they vote for that?” A case in point is Medicare Advantage. Jeffrey Anderson explains:

According to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections, in its real first ten years (2014 to 2023), Obamacare would cut Medicare Advantage benefits by $214 billion. Medicare Advantage plans vary by company and region, so cuts would vary from person to person. But, on average, Obamacare would cut Medicare Advantage enrollee’s benefits by $21,000 — per person.

As Anderson notes, Medicare Advantage — which allows patients to choose their own private providers — won’t be fairly and equally administered if the Cash for Cloture backroom deals go into effect. “Thanks to the ‘Gator Aid’ deal that Sen. Harry Reid struck behind closed doors with Sen. Bill Nelson, seniors in South Florida would be exempt.” So seniors in California represented by Sen. Barbara Boxer and those in Pennsylvania who rely on Sen. Arlen Specter to look out for them will get a worse deal, and worse health-care coverage, than the Gator Aided seniors. Where’s the “reform” in that?

This deal-making tells us two things. First, the deal that California, Pennsylvania, and other non-Gator Aided seniors got is a bad one. Otherwise Bill Nelson would not have fought to get his constituents out from under the new regime. And second, any senator who voted for ObamaCare without getting a special deal was, bluntly speaking, asleep at the legislative wheel. Even if they like the idea of health care Obama-style, voters are going to want to know why their own senator wasn’t as adroit as Bill Nelson.

Now, one “solution” could be — if ObamaCare survives the Massachusetts Senate vote count — to strip out all the special deals. That would at least put everyone on the same footing. And then voters would get an inkling of just what a rotten deal ObamaCare is for seniors.

So those intent on “selling” ObamaCare to wary voters might want to read what’s in it before they go out selling. It could be that once more and more details are revealed, ObamaCare, if it manages to squeak through, will prove to be even more unpopular than it is now.

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Why Should They Applaud Corruption?

David Broder thinks we should be applauding a health-care bill that stinks. He nevertheless acknowledges:

Forced to bargain for every vote among the 60 in his caucus, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did what he usually does: He reduced the negotiations to his own level of transactional morality. Incapable of summoning his colleagues to statesmanship, he made the deals look as crass and parochial as many of them were — encasing a historic achievement in a wrapping of payoff and patronage. The taint has rubbed off on the bill.

But really, it is much more than that. The “taint” has not simply rubbed off on the bill; it is at the heart of it and has created separate classes of health-care recipients based on the political sway of their state’s senator. Nebraska seniors will get better health care than will those from California, whose senators didn’t manage to snag any carve-outs or extra goodies. Imagine if an amendment were introduced that all states must have the same reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid and that spending for health centers and other facilities will be done by an independent commission (like the BRAC). How quickly before the deal would unravel? Well, that sounds like a fine amendment for the Senate when and if the bill returns to the Senate for a vote (provided the House isn’t forced to simply swallow the Senate version).

The Christmas recess, like the August recess, affords lawmakers the chance to hear from their constituents. There are many groups to hear from. Jeffrey Anderson reels off a list:

They’ll get to hear from people who don’t want to pay higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher overall health costs; who don’t want to lose their consumer-driven health plans; who don’t want to see colossal sums of money siphoned out of Medicare and spent on Obamacare; who don’t want a health-care system based on political cronyism (witness the shameless exemption of the longshoreman’s union from the tax on ‘Cadillac plans,’ and the survival of Medicare Advantage in Florida but not anywhere else). They’ll get to hear from people who don’t want to see a trillion dollars over 12 years be transferred from taxpayers to insurers; who don’t want to see deficits rise and the quality of care fall; and who don’t want to have the federal government inject itself into the historically and rightfully private relationship between patient and doctor.

In other words, there are constituents who hate nearly ever aspect of the bill, and lawmakers should understand there are few voters who share Broder’s view that this is acceptable, meritorious legislation.

What next, then? If Rep. Bart Stupak is serious about voting “no” on the bill with the Reid-Nelson abortion-subsidy language and has a core group who will follow him, Nancy Pelosi is going to have to go looking for votes to make up for loss of these votes. The job of ObamaCare opponents will be to make sure the bill’s noxious elements are so well known that Pelosi will run out of members willing to walk the plank. Can it be done? We’ll find out.

David Broder thinks we should be applauding a health-care bill that stinks. He nevertheless acknowledges:

Forced to bargain for every vote among the 60 in his caucus, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did what he usually does: He reduced the negotiations to his own level of transactional morality. Incapable of summoning his colleagues to statesmanship, he made the deals look as crass and parochial as many of them were — encasing a historic achievement in a wrapping of payoff and patronage. The taint has rubbed off on the bill.

But really, it is much more than that. The “taint” has not simply rubbed off on the bill; it is at the heart of it and has created separate classes of health-care recipients based on the political sway of their state’s senator. Nebraska seniors will get better health care than will those from California, whose senators didn’t manage to snag any carve-outs or extra goodies. Imagine if an amendment were introduced that all states must have the same reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid and that spending for health centers and other facilities will be done by an independent commission (like the BRAC). How quickly before the deal would unravel? Well, that sounds like a fine amendment for the Senate when and if the bill returns to the Senate for a vote (provided the House isn’t forced to simply swallow the Senate version).

The Christmas recess, like the August recess, affords lawmakers the chance to hear from their constituents. There are many groups to hear from. Jeffrey Anderson reels off a list:

They’ll get to hear from people who don’t want to pay higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher overall health costs; who don’t want to lose their consumer-driven health plans; who don’t want to see colossal sums of money siphoned out of Medicare and spent on Obamacare; who don’t want a health-care system based on political cronyism (witness the shameless exemption of the longshoreman’s union from the tax on ‘Cadillac plans,’ and the survival of Medicare Advantage in Florida but not anywhere else). They’ll get to hear from people who don’t want to see a trillion dollars over 12 years be transferred from taxpayers to insurers; who don’t want to see deficits rise and the quality of care fall; and who don’t want to have the federal government inject itself into the historically and rightfully private relationship between patient and doctor.

In other words, there are constituents who hate nearly ever aspect of the bill, and lawmakers should understand there are few voters who share Broder’s view that this is acceptable, meritorious legislation.

What next, then? If Rep. Bart Stupak is serious about voting “no” on the bill with the Reid-Nelson abortion-subsidy language and has a core group who will follow him, Nancy Pelosi is going to have to go looking for votes to make up for loss of these votes. The job of ObamaCare opponents will be to make sure the bill’s noxious elements are so well known that Pelosi will run out of members willing to walk the plank. Can it be done? We’ll find out.

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Suspending Reason

Kim Strassel notes that support for ObamaCare seems to be, well, slight. The polling is atrocious. The Left has gone bonkers over the loss of the public option. The bill’s particulars are essentially unknown. So why the furor to get it passed? Strassel suggests:

The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

The entitlement crazes of the 1930s and 1960s also caused a backlash, but liberal Democrats know the programs of those periods survived. They are more than happy to sacrifice a few Blue Dogs, a Blanche Lincoln, a Michael Bennet, if they can expand government so that in the long run it benefits the party of government.

So why haven’t the vulnerable Democrats caught on, and why are they still supporting this? Well, the Red State Democrats may feel queasy, but they’re being cajoled and strong-armed on a daily basis. These are creatures of the party, and the party, with all its leaders, is pressing ahead, urging them to stick with their colleagues. And when the president calls you to the White House, it’s awfully hard to say no.

And then there’s the interpretation — or misinterpretation — of 1994. The White House has held up the collapse of HillaryCare and the Democratic wipeout in 1994 as evidence of what happens to an incumbent party that doesn’t do something, no matter how half-baked. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, as Jeffrey Anderson and Andy Wickersham point out. They note that those Democrats who suffered most at the polls in 1994 were not conservative Democrats but instead those typical mainstream Democrats who supported HillaryCare.

So Red State Democrats are caught in a bind. Their president and leaders are pushing hard for them to support ObamaCare. The voters are telling them that if they vote for this monstrosity, they will suffer at the polls. If they can withstand the pressure tactics and if they think hard about 1994 and 2010, they might reconsider being sent off to political slaughter. But Harry Reid promises to keep them there 24 hours a day, just the environment that makes rational decision-making nearly impossible.

Kim Strassel notes that support for ObamaCare seems to be, well, slight. The polling is atrocious. The Left has gone bonkers over the loss of the public option. The bill’s particulars are essentially unknown. So why the furor to get it passed? Strassel suggests:

The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

The entitlement crazes of the 1930s and 1960s also caused a backlash, but liberal Democrats know the programs of those periods survived. They are more than happy to sacrifice a few Blue Dogs, a Blanche Lincoln, a Michael Bennet, if they can expand government so that in the long run it benefits the party of government.

So why haven’t the vulnerable Democrats caught on, and why are they still supporting this? Well, the Red State Democrats may feel queasy, but they’re being cajoled and strong-armed on a daily basis. These are creatures of the party, and the party, with all its leaders, is pressing ahead, urging them to stick with their colleagues. And when the president calls you to the White House, it’s awfully hard to say no.

And then there’s the interpretation — or misinterpretation — of 1994. The White House has held up the collapse of HillaryCare and the Democratic wipeout in 1994 as evidence of what happens to an incumbent party that doesn’t do something, no matter how half-baked. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, as Jeffrey Anderson and Andy Wickersham point out. They note that those Democrats who suffered most at the polls in 1994 were not conservative Democrats but instead those typical mainstream Democrats who supported HillaryCare.

So Red State Democrats are caught in a bind. Their president and leaders are pushing hard for them to support ObamaCare. The voters are telling them that if they vote for this monstrosity, they will suffer at the polls. If they can withstand the pressure tactics and if they think hard about 1994 and 2010, they might reconsider being sent off to political slaughter. But Harry Reid promises to keep them there 24 hours a day, just the environment that makes rational decision-making nearly impossible.

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