Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cowboy Up, Donkeys!

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley attended the Michael Dukakis School of Political Campaigning. Big surprise. Today, Eags offers the pithy response of the herdsmen out West: Cowboy Up! This slogan works everywhere but Dallas (and Brokeback Mountain). If this is a (fair & balanced) laconicism, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
Time To Cowboy Up
By Timothy Egan

Tag Cloud of the following article

created at

The polls had barely opened in Massachusetts on election day, a winter dawn that showed Democrats really were going to lose the seat of the lion Teddy Kennedy, when the stocks of big health care companies started to surge.

You could hear the cheers from Wall Street, the boo-yahs from the bottom line crowd. Yeaayyyyy! Up went the big insurance companies, up went the big pharmaceutical conglomerates, the drugmakers and H.M.O.s. Health care reform is dead — hooray for the status quo!

“Investors scooped up health care shares,” as Reuters wrote, trying to explain to the rest of the world why a change in one Senate seat could mean so much money for a handful of big companies, on a bet that a single new Republican “could stall U.S. President Barack Obama’s reforms and remove a threat to profits in the sector.”

Jim Cramer, of the aptly named “Mad Money,” was equally ebullient — no reform equals no change equals larger profits for those who gain from the ossified medical industrial complex. About 47 million Americans will remain without health care — yes!

The markets fell on other concerns Wednesday, but the biggest beneficiaries of not fixing the system had made their point.

The public never saw it that way. They saw a spend-crazy Congress backing Wall Street and bailouts. Health care reform seemed like just another reckless gamble, complete with special deals for whining senators, at a time when unemployment is 15 percent or more in some states.

“It’s a message of ‘that’s enough,’ let’s stop the giveaways and let’s get jobs going,” Marlene Connolly, 73, told The Times. A lifelong Democrat, she voted Republican for the first time, she said.

Of course, Martha Coakley, the Democrat who lost in a state where only 13 percent of voters identified as Republicans, ran a campaign that should be a mandatory lesson for all her supporters in Cambridge.

Among other great sins, she belittled the retail politics of her opponent, who stood in the cold of a Bruins hockey game at Fenway Park, thus disparaging three great New England institutions a single two-second sound bite. It follows, then, that she didn’t know that Curt Schilling, the Boston pitcher who bled through his sox, was a Red Sox fan. Stealing a page from Mike Dukakis when he decided to spend August mowing his lawn while the 1988 presidential contest slipped away from him, her campaign essentially went dark with a double-digit lead. And she did what no Kennedy had ever done — she took the voter for granted.

But make no mistake. Scott Brown’s win was a rout, a repudiation of Democrats and Obama. In famously well-educated Massachusetts, it cannot be said that the voters were stupid.

But those Red Sox also offer a way out for Democrats — they can cowboy up, to use the rallying cry of the 2003 team, back when they were still lovable underdogs and not entitled favorites.

The t-shirt then said it all: “Are You Gonna Cowboy Up or Just Lay There and Bleed?”

Democrats are good at bleeding, kvetching and woe-is-me-ing. Particularly the left, which has never come around to the idea that Democrats have to govern in a country that is essentially center-right.

While the filibuster-proof margin is gone, the Democrats still have a 58 seats in the Senate — perhaps 59, depending on Joe Lieberman’s loyalty of the hour. This huge majority, as America’s most astute political observer, Jon Stewart, pointed out, is far more than George W. Bush ever had, and he used it to do whatever he wanted to with the country.

Critics will say: listen to the people, the voters don’t want health care. But in fact, when you break out the major points on reform — getting rid of policies that deny coverage for preexisting conditions, expanding care and choice, forcing insurers to put more money into treatment and less in their pockets — there is strong support. Majorities also back a public option, but that’s off the table, for now. See Lieberman, Traitor Joe.

What people are against is “the bill” — this radioactive product of arcane deal-making. They even tried to keep C-Span out! What is there to hide? Who knows. But most people believe it will add to the deficit, instead of reduce costs as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said.

Democrats swept the land in 2008 by running on a couple of things: not being George Bush, change in the economy, health care and getting rid of a lobbyist-rich culture in Washington that seemed to work only for those on the inside. The voters knew, as they did in Massachusetts on Tuesday, what they doing.

If Democrats were to waste this majority, and have nothing to show for it but bailouts of the biggest banks, auto companies and insurers, they deserve to be returned to minority status in the fall.

Who are they governing for? They can cowboy up, pass health care that helps right the major wrongs of the system and then explain what they’re doing. One way to start is to point to the bottom line, the market, and ask who gets rich when nothing changes. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan is the author of four other books, in addition to The Worst Hard TimeThe Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest, Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West, Breaking Blue, and The Winemaker's Daughter. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

Copyright © 2010 The New York Times Company

Get the Google Reader at no cost from Google. Click on this link to go on a tour of the Google Reader. If you read a lot of blogs, load Reader with your regular sites, then check them all on one page. The Reader's share function lets you publicize your favorite posts.

Copyright © 2010 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves

No comments:

Post a Comment

☛ STOP!!! Read the following BEFORE posting a Comment!

Include your e-mail address with your comment or your comment will be deleted by default. Your e-mail address will be DELETED before the comment is posted to this blog. Comments to entries in this blog are moderated by the blogger. Violators of this rule can KMA (Kiss My A-Double-Crooked-Letter) as this blogger's late maternal grandmother would say. No e-mail address (to be verified AND then deleted by the blogger) within the comment, no posting. That is the (fair & balanced) rule for comments to this blog.