Barack Obama

If You Can't Stand the Politics, Get Out of Washington

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Once again, Obama is accusing a Republican Senator of opposing health-care reform for partisan political reasons. According to Jake Tapper at ABC News:

White House officials say that they have been given more ammunition from yet another Republican senator to make the point that much of the opposition against President Obama's health care reform push is political, about power and not principle.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., this week talked with two talk radio hosts about President Obama's health care reform push as a way for the Republicans to win back seats in the House and Senate, as happened in the 1994 Republican Revolution after former President Bill Clinton's health care reform efforts.

Obama complaining that Republicans are playing the health-care debate for political gain is sort of like a boxer complaining that the other guy in the ring is also throwing punches. Both sides see political advantages in winning the health-care debate, and indeed, in Washington legislative debates, that's the name of the game. Republicans think defeating health-care reform will take down Obama's presidency. Though he won't admit it, Obama may believe that too. Certainly, however, the president seems to think that passing a major health-care bill would pave the way for progressive politics in America—and cement his own place in history as the nation's chief agent of liberal reform.

None of this is surprising, given the hypocritical and predictable way political rhetoric works in America. The accusation that one's partisan opponents are politically motivated is not only one of Washington's most cherished and oft-used attacks—as classic a move as Street Fighter II's hadouken—it's also almost always a way of playing politics while claiming you're not.

Read Reason's past coverage of health-care policy here

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  1. A politician bitching about politics? That would be like a hooker bitching that all her customers want is sex.

    Of course, it’s just a tactic to make Republicans look bad. Frankly, you could do enough arguing against healthcare on the merits (or lack there of) of the Dems version without having to say a damn thing about the politics of it.

  2. Classic Alinsky stuff. Personalize and demonize.

    The problem Obama has is that the effective opposition to his plan isn’t Republicans in Congress. Its Democrats in Congress (and, of course, people back in the districts). By making it seem like Republicans are blocking his bill, he is actually giving Congressional Democrats cover to continue blocking it themselves.

    But all he knows is the Alinsky playbook – personalize and demonize – and he can’t very well personalize and demonize the Congressional Dems. So he does the only thing he knows how to do – attack Republicans – and inadvertantly makes things worse for himself.

  3. And I suppose all those Obama ads last year misleadingly slamming McCain about taxing health benefits (a policy Obama’s own economic advisers, like the vast majority of economists, agree with) weren’t about having politics take priority over good policy?

  4. Whenever someone yells that the other side is playing politics, it means they are losing.

  5. Again, one rule for others, another for The Voice of The People. Its partisan when they do it, not when we do it. They have ideology; we have principles. They are obstructionist; we are firm. Etc.

  6. I suppose also all that talk from Obama last year about how he made the right call on the most important issue of his life in opposing the Iraq war and how he intended to end it wasn’t about having politics take priority over good policy? And the same goes for all the talk about signing statements, GUITMO, transparency, NSA wiretapping and pretty much the entire Bush war on terror.

  7. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
    “No one may speak out in Washington unless he comes through me.”

  8. Yet another partisan ideologue pushes for delay on the health care bill on- well, looky there-the same grounds conservatives have. Harry Reid:

    “It’s better to have a product based on quality and thoughtfulness rather than try to jam something through.”

  9. Let us hope they are losing.

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  10. Whenever someone yells that the other side is playing politics, it means they are losing.

    Yeah, we need an equivalent of Godwin’s Law for this. John’s Law?

  11. Obama complaining that Republicans are playing the health-care debate for political gain is sort of like a boxer complaining that the other guy in the ring is also throwing punches.

    I think this is more like a star soccer player, having a bad season, falling to the ground and clutching his ankle and flailing about dramatically.

  12. If You Can’t Stand the Politics, Get Out of Washington

  13. ‘I am shocked, shocked, to find *politics* going on in here!’

    ‘Your winnings, Mr. President.’

  14. Did… did you just make a SF2/hadouken reference?

    I salute you, sir.

  15. You can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!

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