Posts Tagged ‘House Republicans’

Obama: You’re Calling Me a ‘Bolshevik’ for Using Republican Ideas for Democratic Ends

Monday, February 1st, 2010

[digg-reddit-me]I wrote a post a few months ago listing some similarities of the Dole-Chafee bill presented as an alternative to Bill Clinton’s 1994 reform effort to the health care reform effort today which has recently started to get some attention thanks to Obama’s referencing exactly this fact in response to questioning by the House Republicans on Friday:

[I]f you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot…

[But] if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans — it — it’s similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

So all I’m saying is we’ve got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality.

I’m not suggesting that we’re going to agree on everything, whether it’s on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

Obama adopted this Republican framework to meet some Democratic goals. (Though I shouldn’t give all the credit to him, as his general framework was created by a number of liberal thinkers including Jacob Hacker, Peter Orszag, &tc, and was adopted by John Edwards and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary.) Obama’s approach represents a synthesis of the core conservative critique of Reagan, Hayek, &tc with an empirical approach towards government generally favored by liberals. In other words, Obama saw the limits of centralized planning and the power of markets that lay at the core of Reagan. But he did not adopt Reagan’s visceral hatred for government. Instead, he believed government could be useful. Rather than seeing government as something that needed to be attacked, he adopted Hayek’s view that “we needed to think of the world more as gardeners tending a garden and less as architects trying to build some system.”

While I described this as evidence of Obama’s attempt to seriously grapple with Republican ideas while pursuing Democratic ends, a number of commentators – specifically pm317 on Hillaryis44 and Ann Althouse’s blog, seemingly a PUMA – used the post as proof that Obama is a sell-out, encouraging people to:

Tell your bluest of blue friends who are still supporting Obama to read this little piece…

My piece was actually positive in its description of how Obama was grappling with Republican ideas – but pm317 read it to mean the opposite, seeing it as yet another proof of Obama’s awfulness. pm317 wants Obama supporters to reject ideas because they are labeled “Republican” or once were supported by Republicans – and while this may happen,  she presumes these Obama supporters are driven by the same politics of ressentiment and identity that seemingly motivate him/her. Confronted with the fact that I am an Obama supporter, and that I wasn’t condemning Obama for using Republican ideas, pm317 responded:

Obama’s base supporters cheerleading his GoP stunt ARE highly partisan and they want single payer system or at least a public option and don’t want any of the republican ideas. They must see how Obama is sneaking in republican ideas into his plan.

Which is just an odd response. Do he/she presume that “Obama’s base supporters cheerleading his GoP stunt” didn’t notice that he explicitly said in that same event they are “cheerleading” that his health care plan is “similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care” – which is what started this whole conversation in the first place? How is that “sneaking”?

It seems likely to me, given the evidence available to me, that the accuser is describing themself – describing someone motivated by the politics of ressentiment and someone who is extremely partisan and rejects the ideas of Republicans and Obama supporters out of hand.

I only bring this particular example up to illustrate the seemingly visceral reaction against Obama and his health care plan – and how in this instance at least – it seems motivated primarily by ressentiment rather than any attempt to grapple with the issue.

The problem, in other words, is about politics rather than policy.

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