Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD. It would be nice to think the Democrats had a Plan B for getting health care passed, but they barely had a Plan A. The discussion of their post-Coakley chances is devolving to reconciliation, which makes me think of the old Thurber cartoon of an exhausted man watching his wife preparing to throw a bowling ball overhand: "Oh, all right, go ahead and try it that way."

It appears Democratic presidents in the modern era get only a brief shot at effecting meaningful change, and if they miss it, that's it for the next half-term, or term-and-a-half if they play their cards right. In a way, Obama has no one but himself to blame. He signed on to those stupid bailouts in 2008, and has been fatally hampered by their economically injurious legacy every since. I realize someone probably would have had him shot if he hadn't backed the bailouts, but he should have had the guts to take one for the team and let President Biden guilt-trip everybody into passing a Free French Health Care and Ice Cream for Everyone Including Rapists Bill.

In another way, you can't blame Obama or even the dummies that ran Coakley's campaign. It was almost touching the way he expected people to hold on and continue to trust their 2008 instinct that, now that things were tough, the major surgery they'd been putting off could no longer be avoided. He must be disappointed at how quick they got cold feet. Cynical as I am, I'm amazed; you'd think that, when America ran out of funny-money and banks started to collapse, they'd have been forcefully shaken out of their faith in the fairy story with which Republicans had been swaying them for years -- that they could fix any mess with some tax cuts and magic beans -- and for a good long while. But in little more than a year, a lot of them are going for it all over again.

Having seen this game a round or two, it's getting so I almost look forward to the Republicans taking over again, to see what explanation they come up with this time. Alas, the grill is mixed for a while, and all we can be sure of is that the safest bet will seldom be the people's interest.

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