February 15, 2010


For decades good government types have been attempting to summon broad popular interests in order to defeat narrow economic interests. Now that it’s happening they’re having second thoughts (because they don’t like the first result). . . . Anyway, in the “good old days” of elite corporatist dealmaking you still would probably have trouble passing a giant piece of legislation that was 10 points underwater in terms of popularity. We had democracy even in 1950.

Plus this: “Lots of intellectual effort now seems to be going into explaining Obama’s (possible/likely/impending) health care failure as the inevitable product of larger historic and constitutional forces. There’s something to this of course–the Framers went overboard in making it hard for the government to act, for example. But in this case there’s a simpler explanation: Barack Obama’s job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed. He didn’t fail because 55% of Americans can never be convinced of anything. It happens all the time. He just failed. He tried to sell expanding coverage as a deficit reducer. Voters didn’t believe him and worried that they would pay the bill in some unadvertised way (through Medicare reductions or future tax increases, mainly). That’s not constitutional paralysis or Web-enabled mob rule. It’s just bad salesmanship.”