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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Senator DeMint Opens The Door...

Winston Churchill once said, "Never murder your opponent when he is committing suicide". What he meant was that when your political opponents are fighting amongst themselves, generally acting chaotically, and acting incompetently that's the time to stand back and stay above the fray. Under no circumstances should you get in the mud with them. Senator Jim DeMint should have heeded Churchill's advice. That he didn't gave President Obama the political opening to try and change the dynamics of the health care debate. A couple days back, Senator DeMint famously uttered these words.

if Republicans “able to stop” President Obama’s push for health care reform “it will be his Waterloo.” “It will break him,

If anyone has been listening to the president in press conferences the last two days, you'll have noticed that he has referenced this line each and everytime. Never did he mention DeMint by name. Once President Obama quoted the line back. Another time, he merely said that some are playing politics with health care. President Obama has incorporated this comment into the narrative he's using in selling health care reform now. In fact, here's the email I just received from the Obama administration.

Last week, Republican Senator Jim DeMint made it pretty clear why the opponents of health care reform are fighting so hard. As he told a special interest attack group, "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." Here's how the President responded:

Think about that. This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses and breaking America's economy. And we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time, not now. There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake.

With Congress only days away from finalizing their plans for reform, it's time to
stand up with the President and fight back against this disastrous brand of old-style politics. So we need as many people as possible to publicly support the President's principles for health care reform and call on Congress to act.

For the better part of a month, the Democrats were fighting amongst themselves. They were fighting over what tax to raise, what service to cut, and whether or not to include a "public option". There was no bill and the whole thing looked like a mess. The whole thing was a mess.

Meanwhile, Republicans were standing back. Some presented their own ideas. The bemoaned the lack of bipartisanship. They bemoaned the increased costs of the plan, the lack of choice, and more recently parrotted the findings of the CBO. It all almost seemed like perfectly crafted political kabuki theater.

Then, DeMint opened his mouth and allowed for an opening. It remains to be seen if this will change the dynamics of the debate, and I personally don't think it will. That said, there shouldn't even be any speculation. First, DeMint's sentiment is very cynical. That's not to say that DeMint is the only cynic in the Senate. It's also a rookie move by a veteran politician. DeMint is no rookie. If that's how he felt, he should have never allowed that sentiment on the record.

Now, the president is attempting to use it to change the dynamics of the debate. He's trying to regain the moral high ground. Given the sentiment of DeMint, he has a point. Obama's health care reform package is unpopular. President Obama, on the other hand, is still popular. Republicans should be attacking the proposal not the president. Senator DeMint should have heeded Churchill's advice.

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