Saturday, March 27, 2010

Timing Is Everything

It's tin foil hat time again here at Just Blowing Smoke ladies and gentlemen, so bear with me as I set aside my tam, seat its metal counterpart firmly in place, and once again speculate on something that occurred to me in the wake of the now almost week-long celebration that the political left is having since the passage of health care reform ... 

While few of those on the right would like to give President Obama credit for much of anything, most would agree that over his relatively short career in public life he has been a pretty savvy political strategist. Who can argue this when watching a relatively obscure Illinois state senator in 1996 rise to win election to the highest office in the land by 2008? 

How then do we explain the ugly, lengthy, and often painful to watch strategy used to see health care reform legislation passed? Was it a failure to properly utilize crushing majorities in both houses of Congress? Was is poor planning on the President's part to let Congress fumble about the task for months before stepping in himself to lead the parade? Was it a failure of purpose on the part of the House and Senate leadership to see this drag through Congressional recesses in 2009, knowing that some would face difficult meetings with constituents during those breaks? Could it instead have been yet another bit of brilliant political maneuvering on the part of a President and his team to get this legislation passed and provide just enough political cover for legislators who are running for re-election? 

Consider that while it seemed to take forever to get this supposed #1 presidential priority signed into law, it is now in fact the law of the land. Consider that while a super-majority was squandered in the Senate, enough votes were found in the end to achieve passage. Consider that though enough backroom deals were brought to light in the process to make the abuses and maneuverings of Tammany Hall seem tame by comparison, that they had no effect in the end on passage of this bill. Consider that once again, Congress voted on legislation that it had not properly read, did not understand, and passed anyway. Consider as well that though many Conservatives have vowed to wrest public office from those who supported this legislation, those considered most responsible have only now been identified. 

And though opponents of health care reform have targeted those they consider the culprits in this apparent comedy of errors for political challenge, they do so now with the clock quickly ticking away. This is, as most will note, after the date for petitions to run against them under the auspices of the two major parties had to be turned in. It is barely more than one month before primary elections for nomination of these two parties are held. It is barely more than seven months before the general elections for those seats will be held. 

One can hardly help but notice that this provides little time for opponents to raise money to battle against those with already large political war chests, little time to attempt to run an effective campaign against what in many cases are firmly entrenched incumbent legislators. 

Could it be that while Conservatives and Republicans (there is some overlap, but not as much as one would like) are celebrating the minor victory of at least fighting the good fight before losing this long-fought battle, that those in the Obama camp are likewise celebrating a strategy that has drug out the process long enough to pick the time and place of the next one? Could it be that while political right is vowing to carry the fight to the coming election, confident that the health care vote will be their key to victory, that the left recognizes that their strategy has in turn made that battle more difficult to win? Could it be that what was considered by many to be a flawed legislative strategy by the left was in fact a master stroke, in that it lured the political right into a strategically weak position (in time) through these apparent minor defeats? 

Whether you approve or disapprove of the health care reform legislation or approve or disapprove of the president, I fear that we may all need to tip out hats (even the tin foil ones) to what perhaps might have been an absolutely brilliant bit of political strategy. For in warfare and in politics, as in much else in life ... timing is everything.


Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Amigo Tim,

"Was it a failure of purpose on the part of the House and Senate leadership to see this drag through Congressional recesses in 2009, knowing that some would face difficult meetings with constituents during those breaks?"

In the case of our very own District Misrepresentative Mz. Mousie Kaptur, she cleverly ducked the facing of her angry representees by cleverly, all of a sudden deciding that she had to jounrney (conveniently) to Poland to desperately seek her roots/ancestors, a burning cause of which (and since) she has never spoken...

Odd, that "urgent" need to seek one's roots when there was plenty of "business" waiting for her to face in her very own home district.

Yet her "handsome" mug has been popping up on the Television with great regularity since then offering information to an increasing core of her constituent taxpayers about how to "claim" a tax deduction which would save them money on their taxes, or give them a larger check despite having paid no taxes at all.

This FOXY (not in the "appealing" sense) needs to be retired from hen house guard and tossed on the growing heap of the unemployed..., again IMNHO.

If she has any future involving chickens, this "stewer" should stand in for one spring chicken and, for once, sacrifice her place in Washington for some new bird that is in touch with this district's voting constituency.

Roland Hansen said...

Going off on a tangent here, but I cannot help but wonder where all those Republicans and Conservatives were on getting something done about health care availability for all Americans during the eight years that George W. Bush was President and the Democrats were not a big majority in Congress.

Tim Higgins said...


You're right that it's a tangent, but I will try to make at least a brief answer if I can.

Equating Republicans with Conservatives is not entirely correct, especially in the case of George W Bush. That being said, neither were doing their job, a job that I believe is different from what you mention.

I believe that a true Conservative would tell you that there is plenty of access to health care, it is affordable health care that is the problem in this country. There have been many administrations that could have addressed this issue and did not.

Government, with its inherently wasteful fraud and bureaucracy, and the taxes that it takes to pay for its own growth are as much the problem as the solution.

This latest program, though a well-intentioned effort, will prove no different. Like its predecessors: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid it will grow debt, it will stifle the competition of a truly free market, and it will do nothing to reduce the cost of medical care in this country.

Roland Hansen said...

"... a true Conservative would tell you that there is plenty of access to health care, it is affordable health care that is the problem in this country."

To which, I respond: If it is not affordable, it is not accessible.

Tim Higgins said...


I don't want to take this too far afield, as the post was about political strategy and not the details of the legislation. That's a discussion for another day. That being said, I won't leave your comment hanging out there.

I will respond that interference of the government in the cost of health care through Medicare and Medicaid is as much to blame for affordable health care as anything in this country. Increasing that government footprint in the process is unlikely to solve it.

Government cannot control the cost of anything, they can only mandate what the payment for it will be and who will be forced to pay it.