Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Exactly Whom is the "Us" of Which You Speak?

Krugman sees the problem with Obama's version of the third way.

The problems facing the country aren't a simple question of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Or the Faithful versus the Unfaithful.

A great many- if not most- of the issues we face are the result of people who make a great deal of money off them.

Krugman, on the Obama-Edwards dust-up recently:

...The argument began during the Democratic debate, when the moderator — Carolyn Washburn, the editor of The Des Moines Register — suggested that Mr. Edwards shouldn’t be so harsh on the wealthy and special interests, because “the same groups are often responsible for getting things done in Washington.”

Mr. Edwards replied, “Some people argue that we’re going to sit at a table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it is a complete fantasy; it will never happen.”

This was pretty clearly a swipe at Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly said that health reform should be negotiated at a “big table” that would include insurance companies and drug companies.

On Saturday Mr. Obama responded, this time criticizing Mr. Edwards by name. He declared that “We want to reduce the power of drug companies and insurance companies and so forth, but the notion that they will have no say-so at all in anything is just not realistic.”

Hmm. Do Obama supporters who celebrate his hoped-for ability to bring us together realize that “us” includes the insurance and drug lobbies?

O.K., more seriously, it’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.

As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms. And what would Mr. Obama do then? “I’ll get on television and say Harry and Louise are lying,” he says. I’m sure the lobbyists are terrified.

As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

Which brings me to a big worry about Mr. Obama: in an important sense, he has in effect become the anti-change candidate.

There’s a strong populist tide running in America right now. For example, a recent Democracy Corps survey of voter discontent found that the most commonly chosen phrase explaining what’s wrong with the country was “Big businesses get whatever they want in Washington.”

And there’s every reason to believe that the Democrats can win big next year if they run with that populist tide. The latest evidence came from focus groups run by both Fox News and CNN during last week’s Democratic debate: both declared Mr. Edwards the clear winner.

But the news media recoil from populist appeals. The Des Moines Register, which endorsed Mr. Edwards in 2004, rejected him this time on the grounds that his “harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change.”...

The "business community" being the ones really giving both sides the business.

Admittedly, the "business" backing of the conservative movement does split opinion into sides. But it's a rather one-sided backing, contingent on the deception the companies orchestrate. And the more people that find themselves priced out of health care, the less conservative support the companies have.

But is the "pro-business" position really pro-business when it destroys the very business it purports to protect?

Today, Chris Dodd and friends sent the wind up the backs of the telcoms. Of course, the only thing the main$tream has to say about it is how the telcoms won it. But instead of telcom immunity being railroaded through before the Christmas break, consideration has been put off until next year thanks to Dodd, Feingold, Kennedy, Boxer, Wyden, Brown and Bill Nelson.

We are no way out of the woods on this. But, the big bad wolf has had a slap on the nose, and dinner's been put off. True to Rethuglican form, they're claiming Mission Accomplished while the ship's still at sea.

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