Muddying the Health Care Message

14 08 2009

From Marc Ambinder at the Altantic:

As usual, in a pattern that the left patented during the Bush administration, the organized right lost control of its message. Lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, were being asked to respond to non-sequiturs (would you support a health care reform plan that grows the deficit?  Health care grows the deficit right now, so it’s a nonsense question, one that is easy for politicians to answer); they found their meetings full of engorged spleens.  Unrestrained, these town hall meetings are going to turn off the type of voters Republicans most need to pressure Blue Dog Democrats — independents who don’t have red genes or blue genes.  Both Fox and MSNBC televised Sen. Arlen Specter’s raucous town hall meeting live. It was full of confrontation and protest. There were boos when Specter reaffirmed his president’s Americanness.

I have not made up my mind about whether Ambinder is truly onto something here. Sure, I agree that Republicans have lost control of their message given how few people are really discussing patient choice and controlling deficits anymore and are now on shouting about death panels and taxpayer funded abortion. Sure, I agree that the activist right has courted extremist who have turned this fight into a partisian drama with deafening decibel levels. But I am not so sure that even if the Republicans damage themselves and their brand in the process in these astroturfed inspired protests that they won’t be able to sucessfuly defeat health care reform.

These tea bagers turned birthers turned health care opponents turned Obama haters are shifting much of the skepticism of the president’s plan so far to the right, it will take probably until the end of September to get the country to focus on the problem in more sober terms. That’s assuming the White House and health care reform advocates can regain the bully pulpit within a week or so.

For months, the White House has been telling the public that “the key to our nation’s fiscal future – and there are substantial efficiency improvements that are possible to deliver better results at lower costs in the health system.” We are now in the middle of the August recess and four bills have survived committee votes with a critical bill yet to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee. Conservatives, however, have managed to distort Obama’s message on fiscal responsibility with great zeal. Its gotten to the point where we are far more likely to hear people ‘debate’ whether or not the president is a socialist than see people argue about the merits of the what he and the Congress are proposing.

While the Obama White House went wonky, conservatives went visceral and populist.  To their credit, the administration in recent days has tried to reframe this health care battle as you the patient and the American citizen, as opposed to a mere consumer, against the health care insurance industry. At Portsmouth, New Hampshire earlier this week, President Obama reminded his supporters about what’s really at stake:

Now, health insurance reform is one of those pillars that we need to build up that new foundation. I don’t have to explain to you that nearly 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance coverage today. In the wealthiest nation on Earth, 46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage. They are just vulnerable. If something happens, they go bankrupt, or they don’t get the care they need.

But it’s just as important that we accomplish health insurance reform for the Americans who do have health insurance — (applause) — because right now we have a health care system that too often works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people. And we’ve got to change that. (Applause.)

Oh yeah change. I have not hear that word in a while. We need to hear more of that. But more importantly we need to hear who the change is for and why. It does not matter that we heard it during the campaign. People need to hear it again.

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One response

14 08 2009
joeland7

Who is really behind the hate, fear mongering, character assassination of President Obama and the unrest at the health care reform town hall meetings?
http://joeland7.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/who-is-really-behind-health-care-protest-connecting-the-zionist-dots-hitler-rothschild-albert-pike-british-israel-rapture-connection/

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