Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank spills lots of ink today excoriating Republican Senator Mitch McConnell for having the temerity to consistently and persistently object to the Democrats’ plans to alter the manner in which Americans receive health care.
Ninety-four times he warned of the evils of a “government-run” system, according to a Washington Post analysis. Forty-seven times he warned of a “government takeover” of the same. Fourteen times he railed against the Democrats’ nefarious “experiment.” Thirty-seven times he spoke the phrases “higher taxes” or “raise taxes,” and at least 19 times he used the words “slash Medicare” or “Medicare cuts.”
Perhaps more accurate than saying that McConnell gave 50 health-care speeches would be saying that McConnell gave the same health-care speech 50 times, with minor changes. And this in itself is a major achievement: Only a disciplined and well-conditioned public orator could repeat himself so often without injury.
Albert Einstein had an unkind label for those who do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Yet that has been the strategy of McConnell, and congressional Republicans generally, as they have labored over the past several months to defeat any health-care plan proposed by the White House and congressional Democrats.
Of course, Einstein’s “unkind label” for what Milbank says McConnell is doing is “Insanity”.
But is McConnell insane?
Milbank’s only objection to what McConnell’s been doing on the Senate floor since June is that–he’s been doing it. Nowhere in the piece does Milbank refute the merits of McConnell’s speeches. Nowhere does Milbank object to McConnell’s claims that Obamacare actually is a dangerous experiment that will raise taxes, slash Medicare and result in our all receiving rationed services. To Milbank, the mere fact that McConnell’s had the audacity to run down the conservative litany against Obamacare is the primary offense. And why has this disagreement, to Milbank, been wrong? Obviously because it’s not working. That’s the point of the Einstein reference. It’s Milbank’s view that Obamacare is a fait accompli and that McConnell’s insane to object to it. To paraphrase Olympia Snowe, “history’s calling” and all Milbank thinks McConnell needs to do is just answer the phone.
But is that true?
What’s interesting to me is that since McConnell’s speeches began in June, according to Rasmussen, public support for Obamacare has dropped 8% (from a 50% approval rating to 42% approval rating). Americans now stand in opposition to Obamacare 54%-42%.
Which calls to mind another expression, not half as sophisticated as the one Milbank attributes to Einstein, but perhaps more telling of what McConnell’s speeches have done to the political landscape which Milbank surprisingly believes remains so strongly in support of Obamacare
“If you look around the poker table and can’t tell who the sucker is, the sucker is you.”