Healthcare: On the Fruits of Capitulation

I made the argument in prior diaries that the central issue with President Obama using concillatory or compromising language is that it emboldens his enemies to smell blood in the water.

Now, comes this from the RNC regarding what was the "fall back" plan of the co opt, which some here defended. Warning, this link takes you into the enemy territory, but it is important for people here to start to understand what happens when you negotiate with people who negotiate with you in bad faith: id=72edae22-984e-4019-872c-1438fcc5452f

Nor is this the only example of the fruits of our present strategy:> They are, you guessed it, demonizing the co opt plan. They do not want President Obama to suceed. They want him to fail. I may engage in tough love, but I don't want him to fail, because if he fail, we as Americans fail.

This is why we need to engage the right strategies. For the record, even if yesterday's comments by the HHS Secretary was a mistake or a trial ballon- the damage is done. The narrative in the press is that President Obama has given up on the public option.

Rather than obtaining the result of more support for a compromise bill, the compromise is now being moved even further back. We give an inch. They take a mile.

People keep writing Rahm is this brilliant strategies. I differ to their knowledge of whether he is brilliant or not in the DC bubble, but in the real world, I could not imagine him lasting a second in a real fight to bargain for the best outcome.  The GOP's further shift to the right is the fruit of capitulation and post-partisanship because post-partisan rhymes with triangulation in substantive outcome whether President Obama intends it or not.

Let me allow another to sum up my position on this issue with what is called the madman strategy:

""Classic example, seen all over the liberal blogs: "I'm glad Obama isn't using all kinds of LBJ arm-twisting techniques.  I didn't vote for him just to get another dictator like Bush!" Sigh.

It is fine to talk about which tactics will and will not work.  It is not fine to tie your own hands by making up rules that only apply to your own side and amount to nothing but sour grapes.  Are we supposed to believe that if Obama really did get tough with Congress and a great bill got passed, these people would genuinely be upset that some hardball tactics were used along the way?  Of course not.  But if he doesn't do it, they want to believe it's for some noble reason.

On a personal level, millions of people are being victimized by the dysfunctional health care system in this country.  On a macro level, the mushrooming cost of health care is bankrupting us.  The urgency is far too great to sit around fretting about which legislative tactics the Marquis of Queensbury would find acceptable. "

Steve M.

How does his comment fit?

Well, another lawyer, Big Tent Democrat, from whose diary this comment is pulled provides the context:

"During the Cold War, Richard Nixon employed what was known as the Madman Theory. It posited that demonstrating a willingness to consider "madness" in action would provide you with negotiating leverage. It is not much different than any negotiating strategy really in that a party may demonstrate that it is willing to scorch the rhetorical Earth in order to gain concessions from your negotiation opponents. George Bush and Republicans often employed the "madman" theory of negotiations with Democrats. The "nuclear option" was coined as a result of the similarity to Nixon's strategies. And the use of the reconciliation process was key to the GOP negotiating strategy. Of course there was no controversy among the GOP and the Media regarding the GOP's use of these tactics." 115122/624

But, amongst Democrats, being so brainwashed to follow our ritualized capitulation at the slightest danger of fighting it out with conservatives, do not understand this.  Well, some of them may understand it at last:

"On CNN's "State of the Union," Democratic strategist James Carville became the first leading Democrat to suggest publicly that there might be political advantage in letting Republicans "kill" health care. "Put a bill out there, make them filibuster it, make them be what they are, the party of no," Carville said. "Let them kill it. Let them kill it with the interest group money, then run against them. That's what we ought to do." 9/26180.html

Not accounting for the crappy source (politico) this is an excellent point that I wish more Democrats would make.

The key element here is not whether the Democrats will follow through with this or not. The key element is to make a bluff that someone will believe so that the ability to walk away from the table is out there. That ability to walk away from the table is an important negotiation chip. Right now, I have trouble believing any of President Obama's get tough bluffs when I know in the back of my mind he will want bipartisanship above a good bill or good politics.  My fear is that he will give in to the need for Kabuki above a real bill. The problem with the Kabuki is that the GOP plays it a little better right now than we do. Sure, they are out of power, but their influence in the form of Blue Dogs is still there.

There is a ray of hope that even more Democrats, after a decade are finally, a) starting to get that 2009 is not 1994 and that b) Progressives are more in control of this than the electorally endangered Blue Dogs:

"   Dear Secretary Sebelius,

   We write to you concerning your recent comments about the public option in health insurance reform.

   We stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is "not the essential element" of comprehensive reform. The opportunity to improve access to healthcare is a onetime opportunity. Americans deserve reform that is real-not smoke and mirrors. We cannot rely solely on the insurance companies' good faith efforts to provide for our constituents. A robust public option is essential, if we are to ensure that all Americans can receive healthcare that is accessible, guaranteed and of high-quality.

   To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it.

   We have attached, for your review, a letter from 60 Members of Congress who are firm in their Position that any legislation that moves forward through both chambers, and into a final proposal for the President's signature, MUST contain a public option." lic-plan-no-conference

The fruits of capitulation is an embolden enemy. The fruits of fighting maybe compromise, but it will be compromise that we can live with versus something that we can not. For those of you who like to do whip counts- Grassley's statement, the comments by the RNC and the actions of the Progressive caucus(Weiner places the number for the Public Option at 100 - so there are 40more not on the record) mean that there can be no bill without the public option because the votes are not there for any other plan.

Tags: healthcare reform, President Obama, Public Option (all tags)



Re: Healthcare: On the Fruits of Capitulation

I thought a telling moment was when Robert Gibbs was asked last week about Chuck Grassley's pandering to the deathers.

Q Speaking of the Finance Committee, Chuck Grassley was at a town hall yesterday and brought up the issue of living wills. Has the White House reached out to him and --

MR. GIBBS: Not that -- I don't --

Q -- asked him why he chose to do this? Is this -- does his comments at all jeopardize -- in your mind jeopardize the bipartisanship that is -- you're trying to --

MR. GIBBS: No, again, I -- well --

Q Did you see his comments?

MR. GIBBS: I watched your newscast.

Q And what is your reaction to those comments?

MR. GIBBS: I would have him talk to Senator Murkowski, who said, just in case you didn't -- I didn't see it; it wasn't on your newscast -- but "It does us no good to incite fear in people by saying that there is these end-of-life provisions, these death panels. Quite honestly, I'm so offended at that terminology because it absolutely isn't in the bill. There's no reason to gin up fear in the American public by saying things that are not included in the bill." That I think would be my -- I'd paraphrase that response.

Q And that's what you'd want to say to Senator Grassley?

MR. GIBBS: Yes, I mean, I think, again, that's what Senator Murkowski said --

Q But in your mind this doesn't jeopardize the bipartisanship right now?

MR. GIBBS: No, I think we're continuing to -- obviously the President is continuing to talk to lawmakers and hope that the Finance Committee can come to some agreement.

I don't want to rehash tired arguments about the bipartisan schtick but I honestly can't see the strategy here.  You have Republicans out there saying some of the most disgusting things about the President and his plan and the most you ever get is "gee, we're really disappointed they keep saying those things that aren't true."

The White House has to show some steel at some point.  Make a credible threat that bad-faith behavior from Republicans is going to have consequences.  Otherwise you're just emboldening them to dial the crazy even further up.

by Steve M 2009-08-17 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Healthcare: On the Fruits of Capitulation

Well, if the 11-dimmensional chess players here are to believed, the administration is doing this because this is a brilliant way to make the GOP look silly. That President Obama comes across as the 'reasonable' one.

I think they don't get the cognitive dissonance they are creating in the audience. At the end of the day, you are right. He has to make a stand with them, and make an example of them. But will he? I don't know yet if he has that in him.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 05:59PM | 0 recs
I think they are doing this

as a brilliant way to make the GOP look silly and make the President come across as the "reasonable" one.

The Republicans want him to get into a brawl with them.

Maybe it won't work, but if it doesn't and the GOP wins by being lying sacks of shit and the President loses for being the bigger person, that means we have bigger problems with this country than healthcare.

by DTOzone 2009-08-17 07:27PM | 0 recs
Re: I think they are doing this

The problem with being smart is that you can sometimes overthink. That seems to be a problem in this WH. Sometimes are just emotional. Emotionally, what they are doing is hurting them. Not helping.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: I think they are doing this

But to what end?  There is no question that Obama has achieved a high level of personal popularity by following a strategy of looking like the only adult in the room.  But health care is the kind of major issue where you want to spend political capital, not accumulate it.

We certainly haven't seen any massive rally in Obama's favor as a result of his approach to this issue.  Maybe there's a payoff in the long term, but health care is on the table in the very short term.

by Steve M 2009-08-17 08:06PM | 0 recs
We wouldn't see a massive rally

in Obama's favor if he went the other way either. Sure the blogs would love it, but really, how many people are involved in the blogsphere? There's no more than two dozen names on this site on a regular basis, probably the same at OpenLeft. What about DailyKos? 10,000 if I'm being generous. The blogsphere is powerless.

The two biggest obstacles are MSM misinformation and an apathetic public who couldn't be bothered because it's finally 90 degrees in New Jersey and they want to be left alone to float around their pool on their new Swimways float they bought at BJ's. Neither would be solved by Obama taking a more hands on approach, drawing a line in the sand, or relentless attacking and belittling Republicans.

He IS spending political capital on the issue, but he's spending it responsibility and not throwing it all away like Clinton did in 1993 and Bush did in 2005.

the problem for me is I don't see where Obama is doing anything differently from what President have done before concerning successful legislation. I don't remember when FDR put lines in the sand, or Truman or Kennedy or Johnson or Carter. It just seems to me we've gotten so used to Bush strongarming Congress to pass whatever he wanted, we expected it from the Democrats. The Democrats don't do that, never did.

Anyway, concerning the media, we constantly overlook the obvious problems they cause. For example;

Today, Anthony Weiner was on CNBC promoting single payer, all the while they had a lower third below him saying the CBO says the House bill will add to the deficit...untrue. They kept reporting false information on their lower third.

Convenient since polls show Americans want to scrap the whole thing if it adds to the deficit. Convenient also because most CNBC viewers watch on mute or in crowded loud offices where they can't hear what the guest(s) are saying. They only read the lower for many of the people who needed to hear Weiner, they didn't, instead they saw false information meant to derail support for health care reform.

In the meantime the President is trying his very best to counter all that false information. He has to spend political capital on THAT. There is nothing short of sending the military to take over the TV stations and broadcast him 24/7 he can do to stop that.

by DTOzone 2009-08-17 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: We wouldn't see a massive rally

You are right. He is spending political captial. THe question is whether he's spending i in the way he intends. No one but you  and other true believers thinks he is. The universal feeling is that the GOP smells as I predicted you yesterday blood in the water.  This is what happens when you deal with bad faith actors, including the brilliant idea of giving yet another extension before there is a vote in the House. At this point I question whether they know what they are doing and Obama's steel for attacking the right forces. It's easy to attack the left, and quite another to address the forces that are his true enemies here. He seems incapable of addressing those forces, and they seem all to willing in the short term to use this weakness against him. In the end, if he keeps this up, he will have no bill at all. Sometimes, as I keep saying to you, it comes down to emotions. That's where he is right now. He's not put skin the game, and thus, he lost political capital and may lose the battle.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 09:15PM | 0 recs
But what I'm saying is

nothing would be any different if he did what you suggest...except you'd be happy.

Of course knowing you, you'd probably be attacking him for being too hard assed.

He IS attacking the enemies, no one is noticing because the media is giving the enemies a free pass, giving them all the attention. This would still occur even if he was attacking them left and right, the problem is it would be happening with endless discussions about whether or not the President is more interested in a political victory than a real victory, or "why is the President being so partisan"

The media and the Republicans WANT to drag him into a partisan cage match. They WANT it because it's a distraction from real issues. I sat in meetings at ABC during the entire campaign last year...they WANT a political cage match, they wanted it last year, they want it now.

He may get no bill, but he would not have gotten one the other way either...Clinton didn't.

by DTOzone 2009-08-17 09:30PM | 0 recs
Re: But what I'm saying is

There is no way you can know what ou claim to know, including by the waya bout me. I don't give a shit if I am right or wrong as long as there is real health reform. If Obama's approached worked I wo uld be the first to say it because i don't give a shit about being right about strategy.

THe problem here is that I am not wrong. Everything I keep predicting is indeed happening. I am not looking for accolades in writing what I write. I am just trying to get out my concerns with whatever platform will allow it. Despite what all your friends in DC say there is a logic to this narrative that I am trying get you to see.

That narrative is not one of what the press or GOP is doing to poor helpless PRESIDENT Obama. It was what he is doing to himself by tying his hands as he does.

As I told you this weekend, he refuses to use all the weapons in this arsenal. They (the Blue Dogs, Conservadems and GOPers) do not fear him. There was no other way this narrative would play out than what we are seeing because he creates this narrative by tying his hands.

He's not in the campaign. He's governing. This means he needs to use the full arsenal at his disposal. Right now, despite what you say, he is not.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 09:54PM | 0 recs
Re: But what I'm saying is

Everything I keep predicting is indeed happening.

Like how the Blue Dogs didn't have the votes to kill healthcare reform?

Despite what all your friends in DC say there is a logic to this narrative that I am trying get you to see.

I know your logic, I don't think it's right.

hey (the Blue Dogs, Conservadems and GOPers) do not fear him.

Why would they fear him? Most of them come from states and districts he lost and where he has always been unpopular. How would you suggest they "fear" him? The scariest thing he could do for them is actually endorse them.

Democratic Congresses NEVER fear the President. This goes back to the conservation I had earlier about LBJ. Despite all his "arm twisting" and despite using his bully pulpit for the Civil Rights Act, he failed to change one Democratic vote in the Senate. In fact, he lost three undecideds (Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee, George Smathers of Florida and J. William Fulbright or Arkansas) in part because of his arm-twisting. For example, he lost Fulbright because Fulbright was planning to go to Greece on a diplomatic trip (he was chair of Foreign Relations) and avoid the vote, but Johnson made an issue of it, so Fulbright stayed him and voted no. Instead, he allowed Republican leader Everett Dirksen to submit a compromise bill that got the support of six Republicans (Dirksen himself plus Carl Curtis and Roman Hruska of Nebraska, Jack Miller of Iowa, and Karl Mundt of South DakotaJ)

My general point being that you want him to be something he can't be, no President can be, and no President has been in recent history.

by DTOzone 2009-08-17 10:15PM | 0 recs
Re: But what I'm saying is

a) If the blue dogs had the votes to defeat this, the WH would not be pushing back toward the progressives today by saying the public option is on the table.

b) "We are at a point in Obama's presidency that is very similar to one we faced last summer, during the presidential race. There were increasing concerns that the Obama campaign wasn't being forceful enough in taking on McCain's charges that Obama was a celebrity. The attacks were starting to take their toll, and worse, there was some concern that the public would begin to wonder if Obama was tough enough, and whether that's why he wasn't fighting back harder. The Obama campaign eventually got the message, and he fought back, and won the election.

I think President Obama is entering similar territory today, as a result of his lack of leadership in the health care debate, among other actions. And just as candidate Obama courted the risk of being labeled a wimp in the public eye, President Obama's recent actions are now starting to generate the same kind of bad publicity.

The fact that articles like this ("Does President Obama have the guts?") are being written by reporters who are friendly to Obama is not good news. If the public begins to question Obama's strength, and strength of character, it's going to be very hard to earn back their confidence, ever."

What I feared is slowly moving into the MSM, but you will believe wha tyou want.

by bruh3 2009-08-18 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: But what I'm saying is

By the way, he could change this narrative within a couple of weeks if he went on the offensive and made an example of some of the conservatives by using his popularity, the bullypulpit and other tools and, yes, going behind closed doors to threaten them and their seat. If he wanted this, truly wanted this, there would not be any limits on the tactics that he would use to get it. Right now, he's playing according to Rahm's game, which is to press their collective lips against the collective asses of the conservatives.

Let me explain one final point- the reason why I know this is I have dealt with some crazy conservatives. They always respected me becaue they knew I wasn't afraid to go against them with as much force as they were willing to use the debate against me. I did not play the stereotypical weak process-y liberal. Right now, President Obama whether he or you get it or not is playing exactly the weak liberal that conservatives know they can use the narrative to control. I don't mean with the death panels. I mean with the capitulation. With the inablity to say "No more delays, no more holding back, we are voting on this now.' If you vote against this, there will be a political price to pay because this bill is for the American people.

I know this is not his style, but it needs to become a part of it. That's my point.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 10:01PM | 0 recs
Did you not pay attention

With the inablity to say "No more delays, no more holding back, we are voting on this now.'

he said this every single day up until the August recess...every damn day. What good did that do him?

That fault lies with the leaders in Congress.

by DTOzone 2009-08-17 10:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Did you not pay attention

More of my predictions of how others would respond are coming true: 9/26197.html

Asking whether President obama has the steele or not for the job. At thispoint, I dont know what to say to some of you . I keep reading what you write, and it seems to have no relationship to political reality.

There is a certain dance that's being played out. People despite wha tyou think are not stupid. They can tell that PResident obama is hedging his bets (always). That's the reality, and that's why now they are predictably doing what I warned- whether or not he has the steel for the job.

by bruh3 2009-08-18 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Healthcare: On the Fruits of Capitulation

Please sir, can I have more?

by QTG 2009-08-17 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Healthcare: On the Fruits of Capitulation

I am not only convinced you are a troll, but also a GOP plant. There is no way anyone who really gives a shit either about issues or President Obama's sucess would just blindly post the b.s. you post. I disagree with others here including DT, and I question his good faith, but with you I just think you are troll. I have yet to see you post anything constructive one way or the other other than fluff fanboy diaries.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 06:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Healthcare: On the Fruits of Capitulation

 Prove to me that you are not exactly what you accuse me of being. Say something nice about a Democrat. (Quoting a Democrat who shares your undying hatred of Obama doesn't count.)

by QTG 2009-08-17 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Healthcare: On the Fruits of Capitulation

Then say something nice about Obama.

by QTG 2009-08-17 06:05PM | 0 recs
Rotten Fruit

That's what will the Democrats get if health reform fails. Incumbent parties do well in off year elections if there is a sense of accomplishment and momentum. Failure is a recipe for the opposing party to take control of Congress. In 2002, the Republicans had a rare incumbent party victory because Bush was able to ram through what he wanted. The Republicans were sinking until 9/11 gave Bush a sense of Mission and from there, Bush was able to steamroll the Democrats with the conservative agenda.

When Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton failed to get legislation through Congress, voters did not react by punishing the Republicans who stopped the legislation. The opposite happened. The Republicans won. When Democrats stopped Bush's Social Security Reform, that was the end of the Republican majority.

Blue Dog Democrats make the wrong assumption that following the desire of the majority is the key to victory. What they don't realize is that voters don't like losers. Actually, if the Democrats are perceived to be losers, the Blue Dog Democrats will be the first ones to be thrown out of office, just like what happened in 1994.

by Zzyzzy 2009-08-19 08:57AM | 0 recs


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