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Waterloo for whom?

David Frum issued his blistering critique of the Republican Party in the health-care debate on Sunday. But his words should clang in the ears of the GOP as it watches President Obama sign the biggest piece of social welfare legislation in decades. Republicans might have thought this was going to be his Waterloo, but they messed up -- and they messed up big.

Frum reminds his fellow Republicans that "[t]he Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994." Still, GOP "leaders" adopted the hell-no approach. "We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat," Frum wrote.

That may be just a tad overwrought. If history is a guide, the Republicans are bound to pick up seats in the House. Maybe even in the Senate, too. As we all know, the party that wins the White House in a presidential election year loses seats in congress in the mid-term elections. But Charlie Cook told Politics Daily's Jill Lawrence that, as of right now, the Democrats are not in danger of losing control of the House.

Cook also told Lawrence that he didn't think health care would necessarily be a vote winner for the Democrats. I disagree. Mark Halperin asked the right question yesterday, "Can the G.O.P. succeed running against health care?" Given all the popular provisions in the legislation, no, it can't. And as Frum, Halperin and Jay Newton Small point out, attempts to repeal the law are a fool's errand.

Not everything is rosy for the Democrats. Dan Balz notes today that they "must motivate and persuade voters who, for varying reasons, have been turned off by the long debate on Capitol Hill and by the president's policies." That includes independents, who fled Obama over the last 15 months. And there are some like Mark McKinnon who think that by making health care his singular focus, Obama has endangered his reelection. "President Obama has made his stand on health care and said it may cost him a second term," McKinnon wrote for The Daily Beast. "Let’s give him kudos for candor because given the searing politics of this issue, he may be right."

If Obama loses reelection it won't be because of the passage of health care.

By Jonathan Capehart  | March 23, 2010; 10:26 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: A message from the House to the Senate


I believe many of you are misreading the polls. In the latest CNN poll most people are not in favor of this bill 59 to 39 percent, however if we break down the opposition we find only 43 percent of the population oppose the Senate Bill because it is too liberal. 39 percent favor the bill as it is. 13 percent oppose the bill because they think it does not go far enough such as a public option or a single payer medicare for all. Therefore your opening premise is without merit. 52 percent of the public think this plan is what we need or that we need even more while only 43 percent think it is over the line.

Posted by: lacsr | March 23, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Good luck to the GOP in running on a platform of repeal. That, combined with running on a platform of opposition to financial market reform, as they're sure to do, will make them look like total idiots.

Posted by: LouisianaDoug | March 23, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The results of this health care decision will be horrible.

Posted by: servant119b | March 23, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse Oh yes, I'm going to rush right over there to read that. :)

Posted by: jkallen9 | March 23, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"As we all know, the party that wins the White House in a presidential election year loses seats in congress in the mid-term elections."

Can we please stop admitting defeat before the campaign has started. If Democrats would, for once, go on the offensive instead of cowering and apologizing all the time, they would stand a better chance of picking up seats this fall. Republican incumbants are going to be picked off by Tea Bager supported wackos anyway.

Posted by: turn0290 | March 23, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, I smell a winning platform - repeal what's been accomplished on health care and vow not to accomplish anything else that could postive for the country.

Republicans are just downers - pessimistic naysayers - that's not exactly what I'm looking for in leadership of this country.

Posted by: JilliB | March 23, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Don't get too giddy. The Republicans will recast this bill as "only the beginning" and claim that only their steadfast opposition stopped the democrats from getting the socialist health rationing and death panels they really wanted.

Posted by: archaeoman | March 23, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

archaeoman wrote:
Don't get too giddy. The Republicans will recast this bill as "only the beginning" and claim that only their steadfast opposition stopped the democrats from getting the socialist health rationing and death panels they really wanted

They better listen to an intellectual like Frum. The no jig is going to be up and they have not offered anything that would significantly cover all americans. Their singleminded focus on reducing taxes is not a catch all fix for everything that ails americans. I love it how they run on an anti-government platform, basically saying to the electorate taht the government is your problem, but please elect me to the House or the Senate so that I can have a cushy Government job that pays $200,000 dollars a year and has a cushy pension, with cushy government run health care. These know that these rabid idiots will buy anything, but the jig is going to be over. Americans will more and more know that they are truly obstructionist. They are tricking and deluding their supporters into thinking that most americans oppose the health care bill. THIS IS NOT TRUE IDIOTS!!! WHAT THEY ARE NOT SAYING IS THAT BETWEEN 13 AND 17 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE THAT DON'T SUPPORT THE LEGISLATION DON'T SUPPORT IT BECAUSE THEY WANTED SINGLE PAYER OR THE PUBLIC OPTION. THESE PEOPLE ARE HARDLY LIKELY TO SUPPORT THE GOP. They won one national election in Massachussetts, a state that has the public option, against a canidate that basically stop campaigning during the 4 out of the last 6 weeks. She was a horrible candidate that did not even know that Curt Schilling, a sports God in Massachessetts, played for the Red Sox. This does not a national referendum on Health Care make. A lot of the poll numbers also reflected a depresses Democratic base that was disenchanted the failure to pass health care. As with all important Social Legislation the fight against it prior to its' passage is far more sexy than to try to repeal something that helps people. If they continue on this obstructionist path they will be in for a rude awakening come November. Lost in all of this is that Republcans in Congess poll even lower than the Democrats.

Posted by: impartial1 | March 23, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"If Obama loses reelection it won't be because of the passage of health care."

No, if Obama loses it will be because unemployment hasn't come down, and personal income hasn't got up, fast enough.

However, if enough investors and business owners convince themselves that HCR is going to be the catastrophic failure that the GOP insists it will be, then it could take the economy down and Obama and the Democrats with it.

Given the stock's markets reaction over the past two days (Dow up almost 150 points) that doesn't look too likely. But 2012 is a long ways away, and it could still happen.

If I were Obama, every word out of my mouth over the next six or seven months would be "jobs".

Posted by: PeterPrinciple | March 23, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

"The Republicans will...claim that only their steadfast opposition stopped the democrats from getting the socialist health rationing and death panels they really wanted."

Truth is, the GOP's input into and influence over this bill was exactly zero from the moment Olympia Snowe walked away from the table.

The moderate/conservative blue dog Democrats effectively wrote most of this bill, and to them should go most of the credit (or blame) for its strong resemblance to Mitt Romney's Masscare program.

Posted by: PeterPrinciple | March 23, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Frum is 100% on the mark. This will prove to be yet another disaster for the Republican Party and a milestone in its steady progress to irrelevance.

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have proven to be the Prostate Cancer of the GOP; slowly, surely reducing it to incontinence and impotence.

Like PC, they won't be the ultimate cause of the GOP's death.

We have a new "No, Nothing!" party on display and it will fare no better than its homonymous predecessor.

Each two year election cycle ages the GOP and its 19th century ideas, and the ranks of the electorate that realize this swell.

There will be a vestigial presence for decades, perhaps longer. But it will be like the the anatomical appendix; a curiousity, and only guess work about what it used to do.

The next evolution on the scene, once the Democratic Party achieves consistent, decade over decade of super-majorities, where the real election is in the Primaries, will be a schism of the DP.

But this won't happen until there is no possibility of it offering any daylight to a real third party!

Posted by: DrVelocity | March 24, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

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