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posted at 6:45 am on September 1, 2009 by

Leonard Burman, writing in the Washington Times, warns Republicans that they cannot petulantly shoot down health reform and offer nothing in its place.

Well, that’s true… but which Republican jackass is doing that? All the Republicans I’ve seen are pushing various reforms of their own, “to get universal access to health insurance that harnesses market forces to slow the growth of health care costs” — exactly the attempt at bipartisanship that Burman hectors them for rejecting.

He’s pointing his finger at the wrong miscreant.

Burman’s thesis appears to be that the Democrats are aching for real, honest compromise with the GOP; but in fact, it’s the Democratic supermajority that smirks it can go it alone; that refuses to allow Republican alternatives even to be presented for a vote in Congress; and it’s the Democratic president’s own very “progressive” Chief of Staff who said — in a moment of candor he surely regrets — that “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

So why is Burman directing his ire at the Right instead of the Left? Probably because he realizes at some deeper level of beingness that it is the Left that rejects any collaboration… including the sort urged by Mr. Burman. So why bother talking to people who announce in advance they won’t listen?

Instead, Burman turns to the one side that might listen to him, might even take his suggestions seriously; he gives the Democrats a pass for their bullying and swagger, and shouts at the only side that won’t just laugh at him… which happens to be the side that is innocent of the charges he hurls. Thus, just like the Palestinians, absolute intransigence is rewarded, while no good deed goes unpunished.

I completely disagree that this is the time for Republicans to become beggars at the banquet, bowing and scraping before their liberal masters, hoping to be noticed, maybe even patted on the head and thrown a Scooby Snack. That was never the approach of Ronald Reagan, whom Burman cites quite indirectly.

Reagan used an entirely different strategy: He crafted a great alternative to the “default liberal” position, one that resolved the problem without accepting any more lashings of socialism… and then he took his case directly to the people.

Let the Left squirm for a change. Let Democrats rush to jump on the caboose as the train chugs out of the station. It worked for Reagan (again and again), and there is no reason to suppose it won’t work for today’s GOP, if it has but the huevos to give it a try.

Instead of Republicans trying to wheedle their way to a booster seat at the big kids’ table — offering token amendments to ObamaCare so they can get their grimy “fingerprints” (as Burman puts it) onto a bill that the American people despise — why not caucus by themselves, agree upon an alternative bill that will get nearly unanimous Republican support in both chambers of Congress, and then take that bill to the American voters as the new Health Reform Contract with America?

They could barnstorm the country with stacks of detailed (but readable) 4-page pamphlets, with a few charts and graphs, but mostly just describing the plan in bold, primary colors. Take them to townhall meetings. Mail them to anyone who asks. Put them up on the web. Deputize twenty or fifty Republican pols who can actually hold an audience when they speak and send them on speaking tours across America. Constantly refer to it as the “Health Reform Contract with America” — and always contrast it to “ObamaCare,” to drive home the point that it’s Barack H. Obama vs. America.

Compromise is a great strategy when negotiating the price of a new car, but it makes lousy politics; usually nobody likes the result, and all the collaborators end up running for cover. Far better to compete instead of collaborate… to put our own vision of health reform out there, then let the people decide.

I mean, this is a democratic republic, is it not? And Republicans do trust the innate good sense of people… don’t they? Or have they learned nothing from two successive spankings?

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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Great writing! Brilliant analysis.

Cinday Blackburn on September 1, 2009 at 7:49 AM

Leonard Burman, writing in the Washington Times, warns Republicans that they cannot petulantly shoot down health reform and offer nothing in its place.

Or, in Obamaese, that’s the “Some people would have us do nothing…” straw man.

Daggett on September 1, 2009 at 8:36 AM

In their arrogance the GOP has learned nothing after the last two spankings.

mixplix on September 1, 2009 at 8:58 AM

The gutless D.C. wing of the Republican party has learned nothing from two spankings, other than to avoid town hall meetings with their constituents.

I am optimistic that the new contra-Alinsky strategery of pushing ideas (tea parties = “no new taxes”, obamacare…) before persons (thus denying the left a way to “go after” the “ringleader”) will succeed – but at some point the GOP (including the gutless wonders in D.C. who architected the “let’s buy votes – it worked for Dems it should work for us” strategy) need to start echoing these talking points.


acat on September 1, 2009 at 9:23 AM

Dead on.

massrighty on September 1, 2009 at 11:09 PM