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Tom Toles gets a look at the Democratic playbook


By Ezra Klein  |  January 22, 2010; 2:44 PM ET
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There's just not another professional cartoonist in America that compares to Tom Toles. Most of them are content illustrating Limbaugh talking points or Leno jokes, drawing Family Circus-lite material with a dog labeled "deficits" or a Billy labeled "freedom."

Posted by: cog145 | January 22, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't the picture be a little more accurate with a mob of angry voters standing in the endzone?

Posted by: spotatl | January 22, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"Wouldn't the picture be a little more accurate with a mob of angry voters standing in the endzone?"

No - because most voters have no idea where the endzone is or what they are against... If this is the superbowl then they would probably be standing on home plate in Yankee stadium. Voters are against the big government takeover of healthcare (which manifestly is not happening). Now perhaps dems have done a bad job of selling the message but that is another story...

Even if voters knew what they were against - again we have a representative democracy. We entrust our representatives to make the hard decisions and give them terms in office to make those decisions.

If you want government by referendum move to California - it seems to be working out great there.

Posted by: lazza11 | January 22, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Nah. More like:

"We're up by 24, there's 10 seconds on the clock and we have all of our time-outs.

Let's forfeit."

Posted by: jeirvine | January 22, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

jeirvine has it right.
What I don't understand is why health insurance for the people nationwide should change just because of Massachusetts? Nothing against those fine folks but they already have access to a state plan so why should they have the right to deny a similar deal for the rest of us? I don't get it. I want the same thing they have but now I won't get it because of them? I am so confused.

Posted by: jkallen9 | January 22, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

lazza- at this point the voters would see passing the Senate version and then fixing it in reconciliation as having the bill shoved down their throats. Its already hugely unpopular. Maybe you think that Voters eventually will come to like it more once its enacted but what the moderate dems are worried about is the huge backlash.

Maybe you still think its worth it to shove the bill down the throats of the voters and declare victory- but thats really the dilemma the politicians are in. But for many on the left passing ANYTHING is all that matters.

Posted by: spotatl | January 22, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

It sure would be nice if the Post put the Toles cartoon in the Nook/Kindle version of the paper.

Posted by: wiredog | January 22, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, the call seems to be to let time expire and make a mad dash for the exit tunnel.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | January 22, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"At this point the voters would see passing the Senate version and then fixing it in reconciliation as having the bill shoved down their throats"

I am not sure that the average voter would be so horribly offended if this plan passes. It really is a moderate bill and the the world will not end if it passes. Then some of the sweetners attached to the package will kick in almost immediately and provide some positive talking points - I think that people ARE just confused about this bill to an extent (and willfully - via Republicans playing very effective dirty politics, as only they know how). I could be wrong, but I think Dems could put a good spin on it.

I feel like, as Bill Galston's post below spells out, Democrats have spent a year pushing this, the damage to their reputation has been done, and now they are going to fail to get any results out of it! I feel, like many commentators, that not passing this bill will lead to a MUCH worse bill, more time wasted, equally bad publicity (probably worse - though of a different flavor)... There is really no upside for the democrats to not pass this bill.

You are right however - even if the above were NOT true I would still be proud of democrats if they passed this bill and it lead to the loss of some seats in the midterms. The only reason I would accept as a good one to drop the bill would be if I honestly thought that they could do better in the next couple of months - but I strongly doubt that that would be possible, even if democrats had the stomach to attempt it.

Now what kind of narrative would become the accepted story if the bill were passed would depend greatly on how well the dems spun it, but I cannot really see how they can put a positive spin on the Republicans blocking a bill that they implicity admit was a bad one by giving up on it!!!

In a worst case scenario people are going to see the Democrats as either arrogant or weak and stupid (for pushing this bill for the past year). Either way we lose seats - at least if we pass the current bill the country gets a comprehensive bill that we have worked on for a year, and we move on to jobs. The other option is to try to cobble together various little bills and try to shove THOSE down the voters throats via reconciliation (the attack ad's write themselves) OR go begging to Republicans for senate votes and either way we drag this whole fiasco out for another 9 months.

I know what my preference is.

Posted by: lazza11 | January 22, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't buy this meme that says reform is unpopular, not at all. People are confused as hell, and they don't like that. I couldn't begin to tell you what's in the bill, and as everyone says, the sausage-making was more than we wanted to know.

But the Dems were voted in to pass reform, among other things. It's a real easy message to say that it doesn't kick in for a few years, and we'll be tweaking it for decades, and we finally entered the grown-up world, courtesy Dems and the voters who loved them.

I do not understand how their nerve just shattered, or why they think it's a bigger win to stall than to move forward. Why, in fact, they're killing themselves.

I agree with jeirvine rather than Toles. The football choice of analogy is useful, because it reminds us that we all know quite well as a nation how to analyze plays, the strategy and tactics of the thing. Why, out of the entire country, the politicians we gave a landslide to now doubt this is anybody's guess.

But it's quite certain that the entire nation will interpret this play for the fail that it is, and surf channels for a better game.

Posted by: rosshunter | January 22, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Spot on.

Posted by: slag | January 22, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Put a pile of manure in the end zone and it's just about right.

Posted by: bmull | January 22, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe you think that Voters eventually will come to like it more once its enacted but what the moderate dems are worried about is the huge backlash."

What this line of argument doesn't get is: they've already paid for it, politically. Their names are on the record voting for it. "I was for it before I was against it" satisfies no one and is particularly toxic for Democrats, given their recent history.

So now, not only do they have to defend their stance, they have to do it without the positive effects of the bill to make their case. Worse, unless they actually pass the bill, they don't get to defend the real legislation-- they get to defend the nightmare caricature the Republicans paint of it. You know, the one where it's all socialism, federal control, wait lines and death panels.

Having signed their names to a HCR bill, they have to pass one, if only to demonstrate it's not the Stalin/Genghis-Khan/Put-Granny-To-Sleep Healthcare Reform Act that it's been portrayed.

Posted by: adamiani | January 22, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Excellent points, Adamiani.

Posted by: PeterH1 | January 22, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Sad but true.

Toles missed the part where the quarterback decides to leave to do financial reform, err I mean a basketball game.

Posted by: zosima | January 22, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are unlikely to join their own huddle in the first place.

Posted by: raisedbywolves1 | January 22, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

"Wouldn't the picture be a little more accurate with a mob of angry voters standing in the endzone?"

Yep. And with a bunch of 'em moving the goalposts too.

Posted by: bgmma50 | January 22, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

First, thanks EK for the Toles toon. I really needed some comic relief.

Second, thanks to all of you who took the Toles and ran with it. I actually laughed for the first time since MA Tuesday and the absurdity of the donkeys.

Seriously. Thanks.

Posted by: onewing1 | January 23, 2010 2:59 AM | Report abuse

That's how the far left of the democratic party sees it now -- all a game, all about winning. There is zero self examination going on, no reflection upon whether the party's presentation of this reform to the nation was fundamentally wrong, not just clumsy. Absent a willingness to look at how things were done by Reid, Pelosi, et. al, there will just be more of the same.

Posted by: truck1 | January 23, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

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