Saturday, March 13, 2010
For Obama and Pelosi, health care is ego trip
...It's gotten personal, Griffith says. "You have personalities who have bet the farm, bet their reputations, on shoving a health care bill through the Congress. It's no longer about health care reform. It's all about ego now. The president's ego. Nancy Pelosi's ego. This is about personalities, saving face, and it has very little to do with what's good for the American people."
Conflicts driven by personal feelings can lead to self-destructive outcomes. Ask Griffith whether Speaker Pelosi, his old leader, would accept losing Democratic control of the House as the price for passing the health care bill, and he answers quickly. "Oh yeah. This is a trophy for the speaker, it's a trophy for several committee chairs, and it's a trophy for the president." It does not seem to matter that if Democrats lose the House, the speaker will no longer be speaker, the chairmen will no longer be chairmen, and the president will be significantly weakened.
As Griffith sees his former colleagues, Democratic leaders have become so consumed with the idea of achieving the historical goal of a national health care system that they are able to explain away the scores of opinion polls over the last six months that show people solidly opposed to the Democratic proposal.
The polls are wrong, they say. Or the polls are contradictory. Or the polls actually show that people love the health care plan. And even if the polls are right, and people hate the plan, real leaders don't govern by following the polls. So just pass the bill.
That's easy for Democrats like Pelosi, who occupy safe seats. Not so for dozens of moderate House Democrats whose votes are required for passage, but who face likely defeat for it. "I don't think there are that many moderate or conservative Democrats who want to be sacrificial representatives," says Griffith....