Excuse the Mess

I can’t bring myself to read David Brooks’s latest, which is headlined “Liberal Suicide March.” You can read it if you want to. I just want to link to some of the commentary inspired by the column.

Marc Ambinder writes a genuinely excellent post in which he notes that real reform is hard.

Selling expensive health care reform that doesn’t immediately benefit everyone, that threatens to disrupt the system (flawed as it is to many people) as Americans with insurance know it, that adds coverage for people who don’t have it, that potentially saddles the government with more debt, that requires sacrifice from people who might not derive tangible benefits from it — well, this is the stuff that one spends political capital on because it is the hardest type of lawmaking to do. It requires an extensive leap of moral imagination — a moral argument that the system, as it is, may not be hurting you, but it is hurting your neighbor and will eventually hurt you if it’s not fixed.

When you’re dealing with something as complex as the health care system, truly, there are no quick and easy fixes. Whatever is done will be messy and glitchy and cause some people some inconvenience. Conservatives like to point to the potential messiness as a reason not to act, ignoring the mess-o-rama that is the current system. Conservatives also like “magic bullet” solutions — let’s just enact tort reform, or let’s just deregulate the insurance industry, and the problem will fix itself, they say. They can’t understand why progressives cannot appreciate the simplicity and elegance of their solutions.

Matt Yglesias explains why predictions of “liberal overreach” are wildly overblown. Steve M has a great post on the use of fear as a PR tool.

Democrats don’t do fear — certainly not among themselves — and the principal result of this is that the ideas that are tough sells never emerge with the sheer authority that comes from unity. When a Ronald Reagan or Bush and Cheney ride into town, whatever cockamamie notion emerges from the White House instantly becomes the New Paradigm, the New Normal, not just in the GOP but in the media and the public, all because most Republicans are afraid to break ranks. Invade Iraq? Build a huge sci-fi shield against Russian missiles? Give huge tax breaks to rich people? Sounds … er, reasonable, I guess. There certainly seemed to be a consensus that these ideas were normal.

The possibility exists that the public would still think invading Iraq was reasonable if the management of the war hadn’t been so abysmal. The public certainly still thinks that the radical reordering of the economic order begun under Reagan was reasonable. That’s what fear wins you — a sense that your ideas must make sense because so few people are willing to say they don’t.

11 thoughts on “Excuse the Mess

  1. I think it’s another case of magical thinking — which, when you consider how Bobo giggles — is behavior appropriate. He thinks if he write about it and wishes real, real hard it will be so. Actually, come to think of it, it’s real more a case of projecting. I mean, really… which party is totally self-destructing here?

  2. Sorry about the typos. Hit submit too quickly. “Writes” not “write” and the last “real” should be “really”.

  3. Health insurance companies in America are the scum of the earth. The sooner they are terminated, the better.

  4. I think quoting Machiavelli’s “The Prince” as an example of positive governing methods is a sure sign you don’t deserve to comment on anything. Mr. Brooks is a bit of a dumbass, to make an understatment.

  5. Look there is a simple solution to the problems that america faces.

    Simply hire the Swiss to run the place on a percentage basis. No huge arms budgets, their banks work, they don’t seem to have much unemployment and the Arabs think they have a top notch medical system. The only reason not to do it is the americans are too fucking stupid to even consider it.

  6. Sounds like Steve M has it just about right “Democrats don’t do fear” sadly thats why the wingnuts aleays get back in power, this country loves to be scared shitless. Thanks for taking my email down, sometimes the buttons confuse me!

  7. It is always easier to be against something than for something…to arouse suspicion and cynicism than optimism and dedication.

    I know hat you mean about not wanting to read Brooks. I made the mistake of listening to conservative radio as I was driving to work, just to see what they were up to. he mantra of the day was that the angry host would pay for the healthcare of “those people” (just who are “those people” anyway?) if he could dictate their health habits to them…no McDonalds, smoking or drinking etc. He raised at the potential injustice of precisely the same situations that exist within his own insurance company. Then members of an angry mouth-breathing mob dialed in one-by-one to vent. It didn’t seem like a one of them had ever stopped to think things through, even a little.

    Depressing. But any one of them falling between the cracks of the system through loss of job, lapse in coverage, recission etc. would become an instant convert.

  8. It’s kind of funny that every first comment awaits moderation but a second slips through the firewall with nary a wait. Is something broken?

  9. melbradley mentions Machiavelli, the ‘teachings’ of whom are read and re-read by General Rove, who most likely also reads and re-reads Orwell’s advice on how to control the ‘common man’ – “The common man, to be controlled must remain an ignorant fanatic, whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation and orgiastic triumph.” If that doesn’t sound like today’s Republican doctrine, I don’t know what does.

    And the media’s roll in all this? Shortly follwing 9/11, USA Today front-paged an article calling Mr. Bush brave because he had “bravely” taken on the necessary fight against terrorists who attacked us. Bravely? Well, it ‘caught’ 90% of Americans who with orgiastic fervor went on to support their ‘brave’ president – all the way to Iraq.

    And now that at least 25% of our population is sufficiently fanatic, if Churchill was right when he defined a fanatic as one “who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject” we can expect them to be with us for a long time.

  10. Goodness its all so depressing! Here is the biggest thing I don’t understand about the right wings flogging of “them”: how can we live as a society knowing that one out of six of us do not have access to the private market insurance system? This current model of health care is immoral! How can anyone agree and/or support it? The typical response of, “young people choosing not to buy insurance…” and equating it with a personal liberty decision is fine until a bus hits this young person and they are stuck with a 100,000 dollar bill! To me its just another example of the lack of compassion this society demonstrates on an ongoing basis.

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