Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic has been one of the Democrats cheerleaders and instigators within the Democratic Party’s world of agenda setting — he urged health care to be tackled, wrote about it constantly and pilloried those who did not want to try.
Cohn has never understood the politics of American health care reform, notwithstanding being viewed as an expert. He, like virtually all Democrats, ignored 1994 as Hillary’s fault and viewed health care as a magic political lotion that will bring accolades and unity.
The reality is that Dem-only health care reform brings out long-knives and division (not the math kind of division, either — the carve up your coalition and see chunks of your strongest be handed over to the other side division — NJ and MA come to mind.)
Cohn and his fellow-travelers are the policy types that say wouldn’t it be great if we could just — and then proceed to write and agi-prop until their team are believers in walking off the political cliff known as health care reform — except they and their mesmerized followers don’t see a cliff. They see a land of green fields and blue, sunny skies with a gentle breeze, romance, truth and a lot of skipping. (The Russians have a great term for this — dreaming in color.)
So, now that we have seen this movie twice (1994 and 2010) and the ending is dark with a lot of Dems who are culled -- see division above -- from the ranks by this really (surprisingly! the Cohnheads would say) angry group — called the Voters.
But, even right now, Cohn is still exhorting the Dems to “push even harder” for health care reform. And the big news in his column is that the President said in the Cabinet meeting on Friday that health care “reform was on the two yard line.”
Good thing Jonathan is there to tell us. I, myself, would have missed that piece of news. Yes indeed-ie. The two yard line. OH, I SEE, its on the Dem two yard line -- they have 98 yards to go.
But reading Cohn is like watching someone who held an absolute truth close to their heart — that Dem-only health reform was good politics and health care reform and ABSOLUTELY will happen under President Obama — and who is now trying to struggle to come to terms with reality intervening.
It’s not that he has not been told, even by his friends, that the transmission gears of health care reform have been mashed, stripped and the vehicle won’t move forward. He even writes about it — but sort of in a ok-I-know-I-have-to-include-it-but-will-try-and-down-play-it-and-dismiss-it:
“a lot of senators–like a lot of representatives–are just tired of talking about health care and generally freaked out by the latest poll numbers. They just want to be done with it.
By all accounts, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his allies, like Pelosi and hers, want to keep going. But the math turns out to be tough for him–just like it is for her.”
After this un-Jonathan admission, he proceeds to say that the math does not need to tough, because:
“the political logic for moving forward remains as compelling as ever: Most of these Democrats have already voted for health care reform. They’re going to get blamed for it no matter what happens. Their best defense is to pass something: It gives them a program to defend and an accomplishment to tout.”
Cohn prescribes more poll-killing-health-care! Once a cheerleader, well, you know.
His argument above is: keep doing what the public hates and do what has caused your poll numbers to collapse.
Cohn’s compelling “political logic” is the public will hate you less when you, elected official, get to proudly tell your voters we passed the legislation you hate. Now, won’t you vote for me?
Turns out that the Dems almost-have-a-deal between the House and the Senate if it weren’t for a couple of pesky things — minor, really, in the greater scheme of passing health care reform: abortion and taxes.
Seems the House and Senate Dems are at odds over these passion-less issues. But these are issues at the margins to the Cohn true believers.
Didn’t you know that simply by believing these issues should not stop reform dead, they won’t? And health care benefits for illegal immigrants, the public option, Medicare buy-in and the individual mandate and a whole host of other vote killers are ignored -- too.
And the answer is not to change policies or the Dem-only approach — why do that?
Cohn, instead, implores “push even harder.”