November 27, 2009

The Carefully Choreographed Health Care Dance

The Democrats have fooled us. With each step towards health care I have been convinced that the deal is done, even while arguing for renewed opposition to it. The fact remains that it keeps moving forward. Despite the Tea Parties, the town hall opposition, and the 9/12 march on Washington, it kept moving. Despite the vote in Congress looking like it would fail it squeaked through when 3 vote changes would have stopped it.

Despite the host of Senators who had issues the Senate got the 60 votes to open debate.

Now that debate is opened in the Senate, overcoming resistance gets easier. Not only can Harry Reid throw money at resistance but the true choreographed theatrical dance can begin in earnest. Where the media, both mainstream and conservative, have projected the outcome will follow a very difficult fight that either side could win. Health care is no done deal they say. I'm skeptical. Each hurdle while supposedly daunting, has been overcome at the 11th hour on a Saturday night. Coincidence? Could be.

But consider this - the Democrats could be staging this whole process to make it look like vigorous debate is occurring.

They have plenty of reasons to do so. It protects them in case it does fail. They have the "we tried" argument for 2010 and could use it to push for bigger majorities in the November elections. Meanwhile it provides cover for Democrats in red districts. They can vote against it in significant numbers and it will still pass, ostensibly without harming them locally. Those who voted against it can even vote for now it saying their concerns have been addressed.

Another reason they would want to make it look like it won't easily be passed is to channel the efforts of their opponents in a way they can control. If people are focused on the problems of the most recent version of the bill Democrat leadership can keep the focus away from where it really needs to be - procedural methods of stopping the bill AND the next version of the bill to be put forward because the current versions to date are definitely not the final version that will go to the President.

Is everyone being manipulated into believing the carefully choreographed health care dance? Could be. It's devious. It's ruthless. Sounds like a few Democrats I could name. As always though, that's no reason to give up. If it's true, it simply means we need to be a little smarter strategically in fighting what amounts to the wrong idea, at the wrong time and at the wrong price.

The good news is that if I'm wrong, then this albatross actually is a lot harder to hang around the neck of the nation than I believe and there's still a good shot at stopping it.

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