Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why Obama Failed At The Health Summit

After seven and a half hours and 60,000 words expended, the health care summit ended in a defeat for Barack Obama and the Democrats. How do I know that? Because the MSM has chosen to ignore the event, rather than trumpet it as Obama’s victory. That’s standard MSM practice when the Democrats lose. In fact, the only Democrat I’ve found that’s seriously calling it a victory is Time’s Joe Klein, and his article almost strikes me as parody. . . or he’s high. So why did Obama fail?

1. Pre-Summit Sabotage. Obama sabotaged himself before the summit even began. When he suddenly announced an extremely partisan plan -- much further left than what the Republicans and Democrats had already been arguing over -- he guaranteed the negotiations would go nowhere. The intent was to excite his base. But a funny thing happened on the way to rally. . .

First, the Republicans very intelligently kept their cards to themselves. They attacked Obama’s proposal, but they didn’t offer their own proposal. This gave the media nothing to attack. With the only story being a discussion of Obama’s proposal, which the media couldn’t discuss without angering the public, the only story left was that this summit would be a waste of time because the Republicans would never agree. This, in turn, alerted the otherwise-blind left that Obama’s proposal was nothing more than posturing. Thus, the target audience, leftist activists, just shrugged this off.

2. The Great Underestimator. If there is one thing Obama has shown consistently, it is that he has no ability to judge how others will react. From the Chinese to the Hondurans to the Republicans to the Tea Party public, Obama has never once managed to grasp that people would disagree with him. And, consequently, he’s never once managed prepare himself to deal with resistance. In this case, he misread the Republican position from the get go and he had no idea how to deal with a Republican Party that had no intention of (a) looking obstructionist and (b) playing the role of whipping boy.

3. Obama The Unprepared. When the Republicans showed up prepared to lay out their case against Obamacare, it quickly became clear that Obama was overmatched. Despite spending a year dealing with the health care issue that he started, it was obvious that he has no grasp of the facts.

For example, when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis), who has been a heavy thinker on health care, pointed out that:

• “The bill has 10 years of tax increases, about half a trillion dollars, with 10 years of Medicare cuts, about half a trillion dollars, to pay for six years of spending. . . [and has a] true 10-year cost [of] $2.3 trillion."

• “The bill takes $52 billion in higher Social Security tax revenues and counts them as offsets. But that's really reserved for Social Security. So either we're double-counting them or we don't intend on paying those Social Security benefits.”

• “The Chief Actuary of Medicare [testified] that as much as 20% of Medicare providers will either go out of business or have to stop seeing Medicare beneficiaries [if this bill passes.]”
Obama had no response. . . nothing. Ryan also compared this plan to Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. His presentation is well worth watching. Not coincidentally, Republicans are repeating his points all over television now.

When Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va) tried to discuss the 2,400 page Democratic bill, Obama could only respond by calling it a prop and incredibly implying that this bill was a roadblock: “[Bringing that bill], these are the kinds of political things we do that prevent us from actually having a conversation.” Nancy Pelosi must be spinning in her grave.

These are not the responses of a man who grasps the facts. These are the responses of a man who assumed he could wing it.

Even his winged-Democratic monkeys were unprepared. Indeed, reading the transcript of the meeting, I found little evidence that they were present. And when they did speak, they seemed to think that telling stories of individuals who suffered without health insurance would carry the day. But this meeting wasn’t about whether to reform the system, it was about how to reform the system. Thus, they had nothing of value to add.

4. Obama The Bad Sport. If there is one thing Americans do not like, it is a bad sport. . . and that was Obama. He whined about props, he tried to pass the buck, and, worst of all, he announced himself above the rules: “I’m the President, the time I speak doesn’t count.” (paraphrase). Do not underestimate how poorly such statements play to the public. These are the moments people remember from the likes of Richard Nixon and others who have declared themselves above the law.

5. Obama Doesn’t “Get It”. Obama has given the Democrats six weeks to gather the votes they need for reconciliation. How stupid is this? Unbelievably stupid. It is impossible to see the polls and not to understand that Obama/Pelosi/Reidcare is deeply, deeply unpopular in the country. Their attempts to pass this plan cost the Democrats Ted Kennedy’s seat, and they’ve endangered perhaps 80% of sitting Democrats.

So what should Obama do? There are proven political strategies for dealing with such resistance. But the one thing you never do is to keep picking at the scab. You don’t keep bringing the issue up day after day, dragging it out right into election season. All that does is keep the issue fresh, and the public upset and angry. Moreover, this creates a no-win situation. If you pass it, the public hates you. If you fail, then you’re a loser and you’ve roused the public’s suspicion for trying. The best strategy is to find a quick substitute, pass it, and declare victory. But Obama has unwisely chosen to prolong the pain another six weeks and then watch it fail.

And fail it will. I have always maintained that they can’t get this through the House, and I still see nothing that has changed my mind. Indeed, there are already quotes coming from House members about wanting a second chance to vote NO on this turkey to save their political careers: "People who voted YES would love a second bite at the apple to vote NO this time, because they went home and got an unpleasant experience. On the other hand, I don't know anybody who voted NO who regrets it," said Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Penn).

Plus, take a gander at this math. Pelosi passed PelosiCare with 220 votes (she needed 217). The sole Republican YES is now a NO. One Democratic YES died, and two others have resigned. That reduces the YES camp to 216. . . one short. Not to mention they never solved the abortion, illegal alien, funding or lack-of-public-option problems.

6. Finally, to borrow a quote from former Arizona Cardinal’s Coach Dennis Green: “Obama is who we thought he was.” At least, he’s the guy I thought he was. During the election when the left was drinking Kool-Aid and having messianic visions, and the right was terrifying itself about Saul Alinsky’s corpse, I took a look at Obama himself and I realized that I’d seen him before. . . I’d seen him in so many unaccomplished young attorneys who had no idea what they didn’t know and didn’t have the sense to shut up and learn: arrogance and ignorance is a deadly combination.

What tipped me off was Obama’s contention that he could solve any problem if only he was given the chance to meet with the other side, combined with his inability to tell you exactly how he planned to it. In his mind, his powers of persuasion are all the preparation he needs. Then China flipped him the bird. . . and the Republicans. . . and the Hondurans. . . and the Iranians. . . and the Russian. But each of these involved meetings we never got to see. Now we got to watch Obama’s silver tongue in action, and it showed exactly what I expected -- a man who knows nothing about persuasion, a man who has no idea how much work it takes to conduct a successful negotiation, a man who is neither articulate nor likeable, a man who doesn’t understand how little he knows or that everyone else in the room is on to him.

And that grasshopper, is why you failed.


LL said...

In most cases, life experience brings with it a measure of humility. We learn that other people's feelings do matter and to borrow a quote, "If you want honey, you don't kick over the beehive."

Sadly, Barack Hussein Obama never learned life's most important lessons before ascending to his present position as ruler of the free world. The emperor has no clothes, but as one would expect and as the fable predicts, he doesn't recognize it.

As history puts him under the microscope in years to come, the verdict will not be kind.

patti said...

" the great underestimator" may be the best new political coinage this year. you just know how steamed he'd be to read that. gave me the second good lol of the day!

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I agree entirely. It takes experience to learn to work with others, to learn the right mix of pushing and pulling and coaxing. Having done more negotiations than I can count as an attorney, I can tell you that it takes a long time to learn how to read the other guy and then how to use that information to get them to agree with you. Nothing in Obama's history tells me that he's got that kind of experience. And it shows right now in that he can't even get the smallest of concessions out of even his own people.

I can also tell you that any sort of successful plan that requires you to convince others takes a heck of a lot more work that Obama has shown. If you aren't the master of the details, then you have no chance of swaying the other side. Obama seems to think he can skate through without doing the work.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, I'm glad you enjoyed it. He probably would be pretty upset wouldn't he? I think I'll address my next letter to him like that! LOL!

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I once told one of those young lawyers from the bench that repeating what he had already said, only louder, adds nothing, it wastes the court's time, and it irritates the jury. Obama's experience in lawyering was comprised of sitting in an office and writing an occasional brief. He never got the chance to learn that lesson. This summit was his first attempt at being a good lawyer, and the American jury didn't buy his act.

"But this meeting wasn’t about whether to reform the system, it was about how to reform the system." Excellent. Obama came to the meeting with the sole purpose of hammering his talking-point that the Republicans have no genuine objections and no plans of their own. When he was confronted with those objections and plans, the young, inexperienced lawyer fell apart, and had no backup plan. So he started repeating himself, only louder, it added nothing, and it irritated the jury.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Well said! That's absolutely right -- all he had was talking points and whenever he got into trouble, he just repeated his talking points, only louder.

I've run into the same thing too with young lawyers. They just can't understand that you didn't buy their brilliant argument, so they repeat it as if you somehow weren't listening or didn't hear them.

And that's exactly what it felt like Obama was doing at this summit.

Interestingly, I don't see any evidence that he's learning any lessons from these failures. That's a really bad sign for him.

StanH said...

He came off as a petulant child, but that was not his intent. He thought he’d brow beat the Republicans, and the American people, with his brilliance, and style. Absolute zero substance, and used the childish liberal tact of projection. In a vacuum this works, reading the teleprompter, etc., but when facing a well prepared adversary, you lose!

That being said, his audience (liberal democrats) always go for style over substance. We all know the purpose of this summit was too set up the public discourse, of which the MSM will dutifully comply, and attempt to deal with the negative issues of, bipartisanship, transparency, etc. Charles Krauthammer touched on this - - perhaps they pick a couple conservative ideas, knowing the Republicans will not accept this monstrosity, and then Barry can say, “see…I tried to work with the Republicans, and they pushed my hand away,” and move towards reconciliation, this will be a mess, but I think they get something through. It’s going to an interesting, next few weeks!

Writer X said...

Andrew, you're absolutely correct. If this summit had been a homeroom for the Democrats, there would be 24/7 news coverage. All the summit did was succeed in highlighting Obama's immaturity and inexperience. Even worse, now more than ever, it's clear that he's hell-bent on passing something, even if it's bad for the country, just so that he can say "I won." It's political theatre at its worst. And he's taking the rest of the Dems down with him.

Writer X said...

P.S. People still read/buy TIME?

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, There is an interesting debate going on about whether or not the Democrats want to go down that road. I think they don't. I think that's train of thought mistakes individual Democratic politicans for the collective. But we'll see.

I'll tell you what though, if he wants this thing passed, he's not doing it right. He's given the Democrats no reason to vote yes, nor has he found a way to soften the blow. . . he's just repeating himself louder (as Lawhawk said).

AndrewPrice said...

Oh, an no, no one reads time.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, That's the game plan, to make it look like he took the Republican suggestions seriously and then force through the Democratic plan. But I don't see that working. He keeps undercutting his own position by saying things that make it clear he's only listening to Republican suggestions for PR purposes. In other words, his inability to fake genuine interest is keeping anyone from believing him. And it's because the public isn't buying his lines (as demonstrated by his lack of a bounce in the polls) that the Democrats are getting more and more scared.

Tennessee Jed said...

Just now got to read this--very nice.

1) Remember how we all saw this as a trap? Who trapped whom?

2) I think BHO began to believe his own campaign p.r. and the fawning messianic pronouncements of the old media. I mean anybody that can squeeze out a 53% of the vote against a great orator like Senator McFudd must be "all that" n'est pas?

3) Who needs to be prepared when all you need to do is accuse the fact bringer as reverting to talking points, right?

4) I think he thought he was the C.E.O. addressing hus underlings (Lamar vs. Senator Alexander.) It would serve him right if they had called him B.O.

5) I truly do hope it will fail. To me, healthcare reform has always been THE government program that would tip us into a permenant socialist democracy (if you have them by the healthcare, their hearts and minds will follow) I will feel safe when it is dead in the water and the socialist Democrat party is out of power. Then I will hold the Repubs feet to the fire to go after real cost containment policy.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, All excellent points. This was definitely a trap, but it reminds me of the Coyote, who ends up getting injured by his own trap as the Road Runner just blasts past him.

I agree about health care. They are playing with fire. We need to put that out, and then take a look at serious reform once someone responsible is in charge.

And great point about McFudd -- 53% is hardly a landslide. . . especially against McFudd.

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