Bill Frist, Brilliant Political Strategist
by Scott Shields, Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 06:21:45 AM EST
It's not very often that we here at MyDD come up with the same conclusions as the folks over at RedState. But last week, I had to agree when Blanton wrote a piece that described Bill Frist as hapless and inept, and that he's "failed to be a real leader" in the Senate. My opinion of Frist as a moron was supported yesterday morning when he announced that the Republican's Medicare Part D (that's 'D' for 'debacle') program will wind up being "a huge plus" for his party.
Early problems were inevitable when 25 million people were moved into a new government program, said Frist, R-Tenn.
Seniors have complained of confusion while sorting through a myriad of private options offered in the prescription drug program. And many needy people ran into problems when they were switched over from their drug benefits within Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, to the new Medicare drug benefit.
"There are all sorts of stumbles and glitches and there is confusion," said Frist, who added that a million prescriptions are being delivered daily and seniors will appreciate the program six months from now.
As Jonathan has discussed in some depth, the polling indicates that this program is not a popular one. The most recent Gallup polling found that 54% believe the program is "not working." Of those 65 and older, who are eligible to sign up for the program, 55% do not plan to do so. And the last time I checked, this type of policy failure doesn't typically translate into "a huge plus" politically.
Frist's oddball contention is also at odds with what most Beltway insiders are thinking about the meaning of the Medicare drug bill for the GOP. An article by Robin Toner in the New York Times suggests that not only will it not be "a huge plus" for the GOP, but that it could endanger the party at the least opportune time -- during the upcoming midterm elections.
Older voters, a critical component of Republican Congressional victories for more than a decade, could end up being a major vulnerability for the party in this year's midterm elections, according to strategists in both parties. Paradoxically, one reason is the new Medicare drug benefit, which was intended to cement their loyalty. ...
President Bush's failed effort to create private accounts in Social Security last year was also unpopular with many older Americans. That, in addition to confusion over the drug benefit, has "taken the key swing vote that's been trending the Republicans' way and put it at risk for the next election," said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster. "And what that means is Republicans are going to have to work extra hard."
Like Jonathan, I'm not ready to say that Medicare Part D will chase seniors back into the arms of waiting Democrats. (If it does, that's the kind of demographic shift that would indicate we might be looking at a change election.) But the fact that Frist is pathetically trying to spin the Medicare drug disaster in favor of the very people who set it in motion indicates that the Republican leadership no longer knows which end is up.
Don't forget that Frist is leaving the Senate to focus full-time on a 2008 Presidential run. If he's not knocked out of contention by his stock scandal, he will be one of the front runners for his party's nomination. If Frist is among the best they've got, this type of foolish messaging would indicate they're in more than a bit of trouble.