In the Arena

Dr. No

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The sun rises in the east. The sky is blue. Bill Kristol advises Republicans to vote against health care reform. The first time he tried this, in 1994, he established a reputation for tactical “brilliance,” as he managed to intimidate Bob Dole–whose life was saved by government health care–into opposing the Clinton effort. The Republicans stonewalled and won. 

But that was then. The conservative tide was still flowing strong. It’s ebbing now, although many Congressional Democrats haven’t figured that out yet. And Kristol acknowledges the new landscape: he tries the hilarious dodge of suggesting that Republicans kill this year’s effort and support reform next year:

So this is not the time to let them off the ropes. This is the week to highlight every problem, every terrible provision, in the Democratic bills: from taxes and spending to government control and rationing to federal funding for abortion and government-required death-with-dignity counseling sessions for the elderly. Throw the kitchen sink at the legislation now on the table, drive a stake through its heart (I apologize for the mixed metaphors), and kill it.

Then opponents can say, of course we do want to pass sensible health reform. But to do so, we need to start over.

Yeah right. Meanwhile, EJ Dionne has an antidote to Kristol’s poison pill, with this about the coming Obama health care surge.

There are problems with the Democrats’ approach to health care. It places too much of a burden on employers. The House bill is quite deficient when it comes to changing the incentives for doctors and hospitals (which is the only real hope for controlling costs). But the Republicans have absolutely no credibility on this issue. Indeed, they have spent 30 years allowing the current system to deteriorate or actively making it worse (caving to Pharma on the Medicare drug plan, for example).

This is the moment for the Democrats to demonstrate that they can lead and legislate. If they can’t bring this off, they will–rightly–be back in electoral trouble before long.

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