Ezra Klein (Washington Post): It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Republicans. They managed to make it through the health-care debate without offering serious solutions of their own, and – perhaps more impressive – through the election by promising to tell us their solutions after they’d won. But the jig is up. They need a health-care plan – and quickly.
The GOP knew this day would come. In May 2009, Republican message-maestro Frank Luntz released a polling memo warning that “if the dynamic becomes ‘President Obama is on the side of reform and Republicans are against it,’ then the battle is lost.” Repeal, Luntz argued, wouldn’t be good enough. It would have to be “repeal and replace.” And so it was. That, however, is easier said than done.
To understand the trouble the Republicans find themselves in, you need to understand the party’s history with health-care reform…. (see here) …Conservatives once offered solutions competitive with what the Democrats were proposing, but over the past 30 years, they’ve abandoned each and every one of them to stymie Democratic presidents. Confronted with a challenge to provide broader access to better health care at a lower cost, they’re reduced to complaining that those aren’t the right goals for health-care reform…..
…..For decades, Republicans have chosen stopping Democratic presidents over reforming the American health-care system. Now that reform has passed, the solution for members of the GOP is to press the rewind button. They’re about to find out that it’s not enough.
On that much, Luntz and I agree: If the public comes to see the GOP as opposed to reform, “the battle is lost” – at least if you believe “the battle” is to beat the Democrats rather than provide quality health insurance to every American.
(If you don’t like fruity language, skip the video!)
Salon: The truth about Newt and his cancer-stricken wife – For almost three decades, Newt Gingrich has been dogged by a single devastating anecdote from his past, one that has been repeated in the national press hundreds of times and that has arguably come to define his political persona. After being elected to Congress in 1978 on a family values platform, the story goes, he visited his wife Jackie, who was in the hospital recovering from an operation for uterine cancer, and demanded that she discuss terms of their divorce.
….Here’s how Mother Jones recounted Newt’s hospital visit with Jackie, who was her husband’s former high school math teacher: Jackie had undergone surgery for cancer of the uterus during the 1978 campaign, a fact Gingrich was not loath to use in conversations or speeches that year. After the separation in 1980, she had to be operated on again, to remove another tumor While she was still in the hospital, according to Howell, “Newt came up there with his yellow legal pad, and he had a list of things on how the divorce was going to be handled. He wanted her to sign it. She was still recovering from surgery, still sort of out of it, and he comes in with a yellow sheet of paper, handwritten, and wants her to sign it.”
Joe Klein (Time): ….Mitt Romney is having a heckuva time trying to explain why doing the right thing – introducing universal health care with an individual mandate – was the wrong thing in Massachusetts. The problem when a politician starts making an argument he doesn’t really believe is that there are bound to be loose ends. Here’s one hilarious howler:
“Our experiment wasn’t perfect — some things worked, some didn’t, and some things I’d change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover.”
To which one can only ask: What about Medicare? That was one-size-fits-all. It usurped states’ rights to deny health care to the elderly. And it’s wildly popular. I don’t suppose Romney is against that.
Romney remains a mystery to me: He’s smart … but he has made an utter fool of himself flip-flopping and fudging – and taking wildly stupid positions (against the START treaty, for example) on issues about which he knows little or nothing.
It almost seems a personality disorder…. (an) embarrassing spectacle of an intelligent man acting like a semi-coherent jerk.