Why Andrew Sullivan is not someone you'd want to follow into battle, Part XVIII: Andrew Sullivan declares , upon contemplating a possible Coakley loss:
Democrats can stop hoping at this point.
I can see no alternative scenario but a huge - staggeringly huge - victory for the FNC/RNC machine tomorrow. ... [snip]
What comes next will be a real test for Obama. I suspect serious health insurance reform is over for yet another generation.
Even if Coakley wins - and my guess is she'll lose by a double digit margin - the bill is dead. The most Obama can hope for is a minimalist alternative that simply mandates that insurance companies accept people with pre-existing conditions and are barred from ejecting patients when they feel like it. That's all he can get now - and even that will be a stretch. [E.A.]
Later, Sullivan writes , about health care reform:
It's over. Rahm Emmanuel did such a great job, didn't he?
Excitable! ... Q: How do we know this is the real Andrew Sullivan, and not one of his ghostbloggers ?** A: The ghost would have been more level-headed.. ...
It's not over, of course. There's a good chance of passing the Senate bill through the House, which would be a perfectly legitimate course of action. Nate Silver, for one, has a useful analysis free of theatrical overreactions .. ... Does Dennis Kucinich, in the crunch, really want to be the one who blocked coverage for the uninsured? ... P.S.: Jon Chait calls on Sullivan to keep his head . Never a good bet. ... But once he loses it he recovers quickly ! Peer pressure works. ...
**-- Sullivan's new name for them, apparently, is "under-bloggers." Flattering! ... 12:31 P.M.
Stop me before I curate again: Slate Overboss in Pre-Election Shock Tweet: Even the liberal Obamaphile Jacob Weisberg wouldn't vote for Coakley ( because of her role in the Amirault case ). .... Neg for Meg: Who is the mystery "celebrity" that conservative radio host John Phillips hears will jump into the California governor's race in about a week? Phillips doesn't specify that it's a Republican.... Lawrence O'Donnell thinks Senate GOP leader McConnell has been secretly trying to make sure Obama's health care reform passes . ... 2:53 P.M.
Kf hears that if Coakley loses on Tuesday, the White House strategy will in fact be to try to pass the already passed Senate bill, word for word, through the House. Sudden Victory! **... Sorry about all the lost Kabuki! ... And Mr. Trumka, you'll have to get labor unions out from under the Senate's "Cadillac tax" later. ... P.S.: You didn't actually believe Speaker Pelosi when she dismissed this prospect, did you? ... P.P.S.: Always trust content from kausfiles . ...
Update : Keith Hennessy raises the question : Would it really be less controversial for the House to pass the already-passed Senate bill intact, as opposed to quickly ramming through a new House/Senate compromise before Brown is seated? A: Yes. One strategy requires blocking the result of the Mass. election. The "sudden victory" strategy does not. You could seat Brown promptly, and if the House passed the Senate bill it would still be Game Over. ... Of course, that assumes that spooked House lawmakers can be persuaded to pass the Senate bill (something Megan McArdle doubts ).. ... [ via 538 ]
**-- formerly known as " Pong. "... 1:29 P.M.
Blame Orszag First, Part VIII: A friend emails:
I think Mass. is validation of your take on Obama's stupid framing of insurance reform. He has given people absolutely nothing to feel bad about if the bill is stopped. "WHAT? THEY TOOK AWAY MY COST CONTAINMENT?"
Coakley and all the Dems are bearing the burden of that stupidity. It's not that people don't want insurance reform. It's that they don't want what they have been hearing about it -- from Obama no less than the Republicans.
Obama has let the respectable press nudge him into talking about vague or downright ominous-sounding Orszagist cost-controlling schemes at virtually every opportunity. Here he is being all-too-easily driven off-message on NPR recently :
SIEGEL: Mr. President, some people have faulted this whole process for not focusing enough on how medicine is practiced in the U.S. and our appetite for lots of tests and the like . I want to ask about a recent, coincidental event, which would be the new guidelines on mammography. They suggested that we've been testing too much and it would be better to get tested less. There was an outcry. ...
OBAMA: Well, I think what it says, No. 1, is that we still have a tendency to think that more medicine is often - is automatically better medicine. And that's just not the case . Inside this reform bill that I'm pushing is a provision that has a panel of experts - doctors, medical experts - who are going to look at all these practices to start changing how we think about medicine.
SIEGEL: Will politicians defer to their judgments - to their scientific judgments?
OBAMA: Well, one of my goals is to make sure that doctors and scientists are giving the best information possible to other doctors who are seeing patients. Look, if you talk to most health care economists right now, they will tell you that every good idea out there, when it comes to improving quality of care and reducing costs of care, are embedded in this bill. It's not going to happen overnight because we're going to have to change both how doctors think about health care and how patients think about health care .
And there are going to be millions of small decisions all across the country and interactions between doctors and patients that, over time, change the trajectory of our health care system. The important point is that we're getting started in this process. And I'm actually very confident that the average person is going to say to themselves, if, right now, I'm taking and paying for five tests and my doctor tells me that I only need one, that person's going to want to take one - save some money and save some time. But they need some validation . They need somebody who's giving them the better information. And we have set up a system where, year after year, best practices are going to get disseminated across the country. [E.A.]
a) Obama says,"[W]e're going to have to change both how doctors think about health care and how patients think about health care." And here I just wanted to get covered! I'm not sure I want to change how I think about health care. ... I thought the genius of the President's health care strategy was that it told people who were happy about their current insurance not to worry. Now he's telling them that under his bill they will need to alter the whole way they look at not only insurance but medicine itself-- that they, and the doctors they like, have it all wrong. Bad voters! Thinking that "more" is better! That's so American. Get your heads re-programmed. b) As Peggy Noonan notes rather forcefully, Obama's making an inside,elite appeal here--to moderate swing members of Congress and respectable Ron Brownstein types:
He negotiates each day with Congress, not with the people. But the people hate Congress! Has he not noticed?
c) "I'm taking and paying for five tests and my doctor tells me that I only need one." Do you have any confidence that Obama knows what he's talking about here? I don't. I think he's read some New Yorker articles. ...
These don't seem like mistakes a pol like FDR or LBJ would make. The program we know as Social Security, for example, was not all that popular when it was enacted in 1935 (for one thing, it took years to get up to speed). But FDR and the Dems realized this--which is why they hid our current contributory pension scheme behind a straight, cash-dispensing program of Old Age Assistance for the elderly poor--a means-tested plan that was wildly popular because it promised to start sending out checks immediately. (It's still with us, having morphed into SSI, which sends checks to, among others, impoverished seniors.) .... 11:26 P.M.