What a World War I French General can teach us about Obamacare.
I’ve stayed out of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare debate. Mostly it’s because I don’t know anything about the health care industry and even less about economics. Despite my ignorance on those subjects, I’ve observed with keen interest the technical problems with the web site, and the data showing how many millions of Americans lost their health care due to the ACA. But mostly I’ve been interested in the human factor. Namely, I’ve noticed with both disgust and amusement how hard the political left has tried to blame the ACA’s problems on the political right.
In this interview from November, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, described as an architect of the Affordable Care Act, said this, referring to Fox News and conservatives:
“It [the problems with the ACA] becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re going to do everything we can to make it fail, then when it fails, ask, ‘Oh, why did it fail?’” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-L1dTNu2eo)
On November 19th, 2013, President Obama said, “One of the problems we’ve had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure, and that makes, I think, the kind of iterative process of fixing glitches as they come up and fine-tuning the law more challenging.” (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/11/20/obama_republicans_making_it_difficult_to_fix_obamacare_glitches.html)
During a discussion about the ACA’s problems with Bill Maher, noted liberal director Rob Reiner said, “You have republicans who are refusing to make this better.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aurY7nvQbU)
Of course, those comments were made months ago. Things have changed now, right? Not exactly, according to this January 30th interview with Nancy Pelosi.
Please note the part right around 2:20. When Jon Stewart asks, “Why do we have so much trouble executing these plans with any kind of efficiency?” she answers, “Again, if you’re dealing with people who have no agenda, who, ‘Nothing is our agenda and never is our timetable’, it’s very hard to negotiate with them.”
So if I understand the President, Dr. Ezekiel, Rob Reiner and Ms. Pelosi correctly, the problems with the ACA aren’t a result of a poorly written law, or poor implementation, or unforeseen second- and third-order effects. The ACA’s flaws can’t be blamed on those who actually wrote the law, voted for it, poorly implemented it, or demonized those who opposed it. Blame for those flaws lies squarely at the feet of those who never wanted it to become law in the first place.
I doubt I’m the only one who finds this amusing.
The left chose the ACA as their crusade. They championed it for years. They vilified anyone who argued against it. I recall the President saying “The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care.” Dissent against the ACA was never described by democrats as reasonable or logical; it was always a matter of evil, child-hating conservatives actually wanting poor, innocent people to needlessly suffer. The democrats pushing the ACA were, on the other hand, noble and magnanimous knights in sterling armor, defending the health insurance-less from the greedy depredations of horrible ogres like me.
So what does this have to do with a French General in World War I?
When I was a kid, someone brought this book to my house. I must have read it four or five times before I graduated high school.
One chapter tells the little-known story of Nivelle’s Offensive, a huge attack the French Army launched in 1917.
The short version is that General Nivelle came up with what he thought was a great idea for an assault. Other people warned him that it wouldn’t work. He ignored their warnings and went ahead with his plan. The attack was a disaster that cost the lives of tens of thousands of French troops the first day (and many more after that), for little gain. The French Army almost broke from the losses, and mutiny ensued.
So what did General Nivelle do? He blamed the people who tried to stop him from carrying out the attack in the first place.
“Apparently overcome by hysteria, Nivelle traveled to Dormans, General Alfred Micheler’s headquarters, where he stormed into the conference room shrieking accusations… Ignoring rank, [Micheler] turned on his commander in chief.
‘You wish to make me responsible for your mistake,’ he bellowed, ‘me, who never ceased to warn you of it. Do you know what such an action is called?’ he demanded. ‘Well, it is called cowardice!’”
I’m not a republican, but I opposed the ACA. All the problems associated with the ACA aren’t my fault. Nor does any fault belong to others who opposed it, argued against it, and voted against it. If the democrat plan for the ACA’s success relies on cooperation from those who desperately tried, for years, to prevent it from being passed, then the democratic party is following a criminally stupid strategy. If republicans repealed Roe vs. Wade, over strenuous democrat objections and warnings, and the result was disastrous, republicans would rightfully be viewed as morons if they blamed democrats for the debacle. What democrats are doing right now is no different.
If you pass it, you own it. Especially if you pass it with literally no support from the other side.
As I said, I’m no economist or health care expert. Maybe the ACA will eventually be a spectacular success. Or an abysmal failure. Who knows. I can handle a failure as long as the responsible party actually acts responsible. The democrats aren’t doing that. Instead they’re deflecting, clinging to pathetically transparent talking points, and blaming the very people who “never ceased to warn them of the danger.” Do you know what such an action is called?
Well, it is called cowardice.
Filed under: Writing | 23 Comments
Tags: ACA, obamacare, pelosi