Scott Brown’s 105 mph fastball left Obama with bat on his shoulder and a called third strike on his healthcare plan. While some Democrats are angry at Coakley, independents and Massachusetts in general, they should be thanking Brown for sparing them a much worse fate this fall.
The healthcare plan has become a turkey. The good people of Massachusetts didn’t make it that way; they simply decided to give the bird an identity. The fact is you can’t use Massachusetts to gauge the potential national reaction to the healthcare bill, either now or if it were passed. They have their own near universal plan, and so their rejection of Obamacare has a few variables that don’t apply elsewhere.
However, you can take this turkey’s pulse by two other methods. One is by looking at the national polls, where the approval of Obama’s leadership on this issue has been in steady decline for some time. The other way is to observe how Obama and the Democrats have used this loss as an excuse to turkey trot away from pushing to get it passed.
The Right Wing is claiming victory, but jingling the car keys gets them excited, and it’s not their influence that made the voters react. The polls still reflect a support for Public Option health insurance, and Republicans in general are still less popular than Democrats on that issue and the economy. The worst thing to happen to the GOP was getting total control and proving their governing incompetence, and even a glorious Obama flop won’t automatically resurrect the dead elephant.
The problem with Obamacare is that it was a victim of New Democrat (motto: We’re Sane Republicans!) politics. Healthcare died by the Curse of the Threes – Triangulation and Third Way politics.
While Triangulating the Republican agenda – meaning adopting some of their ideas to buy cooperation, then giving them a slight leftward spin - made Newt Gingrich Bill Clinton’s Mini-Me, that was a different time and situation. Today’s Republicans aren’t in the majority, and are too locked in an ideological graveyard spiral to be worked with. Obama quickly learned that he’s a President, not a cultist deprogrammer.
So Obama ended up Triangulating with the Blue Dog Democrats (motto: We’re Republicans!).You can’t do the Triangulation Cha-Cha with your own party; you end up stepping on each other’s feet and looking clumsy.
Third Way is an economic version of Triangulation. It involves rejecting the worst aspects of the Welfare State left, as well as the laissez faire, free market Libertarian right. Clinton’s Welfare to Workfare reform is a good example of the concept. The critical difference between Clinton’s Workfare and Obama’s healthcare reform is the former was passed during good economic times.
The Obama crew must have imagined they could Triangulate the GOP with Third Way politics. After seeing the Republicans deliver a wet kiss to Big Pharma with Medicare part D, that assumption wasn’t entirely out of the bounds of reality. The Republicans had combined the desire of seniors to get a pill subsidy and Big Pharm’s desire to overcharge with an ability – before the economic explosion – to shove the cost into debt.
Obama had already cut deals with Big Pharm and Insurance before the healthcare debate began in Congress. While the Triangulation move met an early demise, he figured he could use Third Way to create a mutual accommodation of public and industry interests. However, that is like finding mutual accommodation between a pot roast and a pit bull. Rather than detail the entire human blue plate special, it can be summed up by the Great Obama Televised Healthcare Address to Congress, and what followed.
In the GOT-HAC, Obama first offered the public a stick – we will make you buy insurance – with a carrot – we will give you a non-profit Public Option.
Within a few days, the insurance lobbyists are feasting on carrots, and Obama is stuck with a stick. The people, realizing there would be no carrot, started heading for the exits.
That, dear discouraged Democrats and ranting Republicans, is what delivered the Triangulation, Third Way third strike to Obamacare. Despite the spin and spew, the message to the public became this—
“We have bailed out the banks. We have ignored rising unemployment. We're spending a lot of your money, but not on you. We know you’re deeply concerned with your economic prospects, so we will force you to buy insurance from the corporations you well know are the biggest part of the healthcare problem.”
Brown’s victory killed the Triangulation, Third Way Obamacare plan. We should hope to see this tombstone epitaph – Here Lies The New Democrat Strategy. Born 1996 in Washington, DC. Died 2010 in Massachusetts.
We should also hope to read this announcement in our local papers – Democratic Economic Populism was reborn to parents Thomas Jefferson and Lady Liberty, Tuesday, January 19, in Massachutsetts.
President Obama didn’t realize what change the people wanted. They would like to see an end to partisan squabbling, but the change they want most is to end the insider trading between politicians and big business.
Obama and the Democrats now realize they need to throw out the New Democrat model in favor of what once was the Party’s traditional economic populism. Obama’s let’s get those bankers! speech made in a last gasp attempt to salvage Coakley’s campaign acknowledges they know they had better find their Populist Ass, and fast, if they hope to stay in power.
But Obama has already beat the bankers are bad drum until it broke, so, as a populist vehicle it has limits. He needs something more...something new...an unexpected miracle to offset the Massachusetts mauling. He needs slow pitch over the plate so he can finally hit a home run dinger.
Fortunately, the Republicans, equally as able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, have changed pitchers. The Federalist Five of the US Supreme Court (stock ticker symbol U$$C) have lobbed a populist meatball for Obama to swat out of the park. In an era of national disgust with corporate power over politics and economy, the one-branch government Just-Us pawns of right wing corporate funding have delivered a decision the public can easily learn to hate, and the Republicans can’t resist loving.
His statement made following the terrible decision shows he knows he has an issue to work with, and is a good start. Perhaps it's time to mandate corporations involved in interstate commerce be required to obtain a Federal charter that would strip them of the personhood our Founders would have never granted.
With their judicial activism, the Contrive Five have offered to save Obama’s baking bacon.
IF, mind you, Obama can hit.