The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Tom -- and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much ...
... but that's not a radical bunch. But if 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.
No, I mean, that's how you guys -- that's how you guys presented it.
And so I'm thinking to myself, "Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist ..."
No, look, I mean, I'm just saying -- I know you guys disagree, 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.
I mean, the fact of the matter is is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is, "This guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America."
And I -- I would just say that we have to think about tone.
It's not just on your side, by the way. It's -- it's on our side as well. This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.
I think all that's true. But you know what else? Turns out it's a winning strategy for Republicans. The health care bill is nationally unpopular and legislatively dying (at best). Their prospects in November have improved.
Yes, Republicans have left themselves with little ability to compromise, but it's not in their interest to compromise. And that Republicans would demonize the policy and misrepresent Obama was entirely predictable. Maybe they earnestly disagree with the proposals, or maybe they're just self-interested and cynical. It doesn't really matter - they're not going to vote for health care reform. Whether they'll compromise is not unknown. They won't.
And yes, we need to change how Washington works. Without question, our political discourse needs to communicate to voters with honesty and respect.
But we also need to provide health care to uninsured Americans. So in the end, while it's satisfying for our president to be right...to take the high ground in the argument about process, it's not going to pass health care.
For that, you actually have to win.