A note from TPM Reader <$NoAd$> PC ...
Back around the time of the Clinton health care debate William Kristol drafted an influential memo suggesting that the best course for the GOP was "principled"/ideological opposition to ANY compromise on a universal health care plan. Beyond his ideological opposition to further government intervention in this area, he argued that politically, setting up a grand new entitlement (which would no doubt be tinkered with and expanded over the years) would redound to the Democrats long term poltical interests. He was very wrong on the substance of the issue - but very right on the politics of it. The Republicans paid no price, indeed prospered from their derailing of national health care.
Now we face the mirror image of the Clinton health care debate and it's instructrive to see how both the media and the opposition party play their hands. I don't recall any hue and cry from the Beltway pundit class that the GOP needed to come up with an alternative to Clinton's plan. In fact the media focus was exclusively on Clinton and the trouble he was having crafting a plan and rounding up votes. By the way Clinton had much more support in Congress (and in the country) on the health care issue than Bush does now on Soc Sec; yet the Beltway pundits are putting the heat on Dems to come up with their own plan.
As for the Dems, it's a dispiriting commentary on the weakness and cowardice of the national party that people like Carville are falling for the "we can't be seen to be just obstructionists" line. Beltway Dems are so inured [to] the Russert/Cokie/Judy/Matthews Conventional Wisdom axis that their political radar is way off target. What they don't seem to understand is that standing firm against the destruction of Social Security IS an agenda and a statement of values. As Chait wrote in the TNR - the notion that Democrats will pay a political price for stopping an unpopular program is utter lunacy - but the GOP with the help of the Beltway pundit class are pushing this line. Could people like Harry Reid and Joe Biden really believe this?
Here's hoping that like Kristol's Memo more than a decade ago, Chait's piece becomes the Dem playbook.
He makes some very good points.