Posts Tagged ‘Tom Coburn’
President Obama’s “health care summit” last week broke very little new policy ground, but one thing is clear: Democrats are determined to pass their health care bill no matter what the American people want.
Some people have asked me why the Democrats would so willfully reject the will of the American people and push try to push this through. Obama and Democrat leadership know that with every passing day, reform becomes harder to pass because the closer we get to election day, the less likely moderate Democrats are to support it. Obama, Pelosi and Reid also know that if they don’t get it done this year, it will never happen, because they are going to lose seats in both the House and the Senate in November.
Another thing to consider is the dynamic of the 2012 election. Rahm Emanuel is the smartest Democrat operative in the nation. He knows politics, and he knows history and he recognizes that if Republicans capture the House in 2010, Obama’s reelection chances in 2012 at least double. Think about Clinton’s ability to “triangulate” with the Republican majority, thereby making him look more reasonable.
So, Rahm and Obama are willing to throw as many House members into the wood chipper as it will take to pass a bill, majority be damned, because a majority is actually bad for Obama after next year. The thing to watch is whether Democrat House members will be more influenced by White House pressure, or by pressure of constituents and voters back home.
In watching the summit, I was struck by a number of things. First, I was very impressed with the Republicans strength on the policy of health care reform. President Obama repeatedly tried to cut off any Republican who spoke about portions of the current plan with which they disagree. On several occasions, the President cut off the speaker and announced that he was interested in what they liked about his plan, not what they didn’t. In other words continuing his theme that bi-partisan reform consists of Republicans agreeing to Democrats ideas.
The Democrats also attempted to dominate the amount of speaking time. The Democrats/President spoke for 233 minutes, with Republicans getting 110 minutes of speaking time. However, the Republicans were very efficient with their time and Sens. Lamar Alexander R-TN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and House members Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) stood out in particular as hitting the main points with devastating precision. spoke about the need to eliminate (or at least reduce) waste, fraud, and abuse in health care.
At first, the Democrats were somewhat successful in appearing to agree with Republican principles and claiming their bill did many of the things Republicans were proposing. For instance, many Republicans suggested allowing the purchasing of insurance across state lines. Several Democrats insisted that their bill did just that. They were attempting to claim that their “exchanges” would do that; they do not. However, as the summit progressed, Republicans made it clear they were better prepared and had mastered the facts better than the Democrats.
At one point Senator McCain (R-AZ) made a very effective speech, noting how corrupt the process of crafting the legislation had been, including the many sweetheart deals included in the bills to buy votes. This clearly stung Obama, and the best he could come up with was a remark that the election is over – as if McCain’s points were mere political talking points used in campaigns. This was a big win for Republicans.
Finally, President Obama ended the summit by declaring that he has come a long way towards the Republicans by offering his latest proposal (which is largely the Senate-passed bill) and that now it is up to Republicans to decide which Democrat proposals they could accept. He intimated that they had the next several weeks (he mentioned 6 weeks once) to help Democrats pass their bill or he will pull it and Americans will know that Republicans put their political interests before the best interests of Americans. And then, the President noted, “that’s why we have elections.”
The media has played this as having been a “tie, going to Republicans.” If that is the MSM take, than clearly Republicans gained the most out of the summit. As has already been discussed by many commentators, Republicans brought their “A” game, while Democrats came across as mostly parroting talking points, not actually discussing solutions. Even Rush Limbaugh has said that Republicans proved him wrong by how well they did.
Here is a sampling of some of the immediate reaction in the press.
CNN’S DAVID GERGEN: “Intellectually, The Republicans Had The Best Day They’ve Had In Years. The Best Day They Have Had In Years.” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 2/25/10)
· CNN’s DAVID GERGEN: “The Folks In The White House Just Must Be Kicking Themselves Right Now. They thought that coming out of Baltimore when the President went in and was mesmerizing and commanding in front of the House Republicans that he could do that again here today. That would revive health care and would change the public opinion about their health care bill and they can go on to victory. Just the opposite has happened.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)
NPR’S MARA LIASSON: “I Think That The Republicans Made Their Arguments Very Well.” (Fox News, 2/25/10)
CNN’S WOLF BLITZER: “It Looks Like The Republicans Certainly Showed Up Ready To Play.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)
· CNN’S WOLF BLITZER: “And The Republicans Had Less Speaking Time, But They Took Full Advantage Of Every Minute They Had.” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 2/25/10)
THE HILL’S A.B. STODDARD: “I Think We Need To Start Out By Acknowledging Republicans Brought Their ‘A Team.’ They had doctors knowledgeable about the system, they brought substance to the table, and they, I thought, expressed interest in the reform. I thought in the lecture from Senator John McCain and on the issue of transparency, I thought today the Democrats were pretty much on their knees.” (Fox News’ “Live,” 2/25/10)
CNN’s GLORIA BORGER: “The Republicans Have Been Very Effective Today. They Really Did Come To Play. They Were Very Smart.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)
· BORGER: “They took on the substance of a very complex issue. … But they really stuck to the substance of this issue and tried to get to the heart of it and I think did a very good job.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)
· BORGER: “They came in with a plan. They mapped it out.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)
POLITICO: “By The Afternoon, However, Both Sides Took A More Substantive Approach That Played To The Republicans’ Benefit, given Democratic attempts to portray them as unreasonable and partisan.” (“Six Hours Later, Stalemate Remains,” Politico, 2/25/10)
FOX NEWS’ CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: “The Republicans Really Helped Themselves. The argument against them, it’s the party of no, they have no ideas, they are against anything, they’re nihilists. In fact, they spent seven hours, I think, presenting a very strong case. They’re knowledgeable. They have ideas. They are interested in reform, but they have differences. Lamar Alexander was dazzling, Paul Ryan was rapier sharp in rebutting all of the smoke and mirrors that the democrats had presented.” (Fox News, 2/25/10)
JAMES CARVILLE: “First, In General, You’d Have To Say, By The Most Part Most Of These People Were Pretty Knowledgeable, They Had Done Their Homework … I Thought That Senator Alexander And Senator Coburn Did Great…” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 2/25/10)
FOX NEWS’ BRET BAIER: “Republicans Had A Strong Day Making Their Points.” (Fox News’ “Live,” 2/25/10)
WASHINGTON POST’S MICHAEL GERSON: “The Democrats’ Health-Care Ambush Failed”(Michael Gerson, Op-Ed, “The Democrats’ Health-Care Ambush Failed,” The Washington Post, 2/25/10)
One of my political heroes is Dr. Tom Coburn, U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. I got to know Dr. Coburn when he was elected to the U.S. House as part of the 1994 Republican Revolution. For the next six years he led the charge against wasteful spending, health care reform and transparency in government. Then, holding to a self-imposed three-term limit, he retired from Congress and went back to the full-time practice of medicine (a family practitioner in Muskogee, OK).
In 2004 he decided to run for the open Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Don Nickles. I had the distinct privilege of spending the last two months of the 2004 election cycle in Oklahoma helping get Dr. Tom elected to the Senate in what became one of the fiercest Senate races in Oklahoma history. I used to joke with people in Oklahoma as I traveled around coordinating the campaign that “I don’t know anything about campaigning, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night!” It was relevant because I did, in fact, live in a Holiday Inn Express in Muskogee, OK for 62 nights in a row (I spent the last few nights of the campaign in Tulsa). I had a hard-boiled egg and a cinnamon roll nearly every morning.
My roommate and side-kick during that campaign was communications pro, Mike Steel (no, not that Michael Steele) who is now the Communications Director the U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner. We spent an unhealthy amount of time together and I will never hear a Big and Rich tune without rollin’ across Oklahoma in a rented Monte Carlo running the campaign with a cell phone and a blackberry. (It was my work on the Coburn campaign that led to a Washington Post profile of my wife Julie in a story about the toll politics can take on families, and how my wife has earned sainthood for tolerating my work schedule.)
Coburn amassed a great team of people to help him in that race. The Oklahoma contingent included Mike Schwartz, Curt Price, Jerry Morris, Brian Treat, Greg Treat, Courtney Cox, Jane (now Treat), Martin Updike, John Hart, Tyler Faught, Tim Barr, Patrick Wyrick, Derek Sparks, and others who, embarrassingly, I can’t remember names. Chairing the victory operation was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known, Mike Willis, and he had Austin and some others helping him.
The out-of-towners included me, Steel, Jason Miller and also Jon Lerner doing the polling and John Brabender and Rob Aho doing the media. There were a ton of others that came in towards the end, and Congressman John Shadegg spent a lot of time on conference calls assisting with strategy.
All this walk down memory lane came as a result of Dr. Tom’s announcement on Monday that he will run for re-election. A video of his announcement is here.
All you need to know is in this video produced by the folks at Brabender Cox:
John Lewis was the top vote-getter for Mayor of Gilbert today, with more than 40 percent of the vote in a race that was supposed to be close. Second place for a spot in the run-off is Don Skousen with about 20 percent of the vote. Incumbent Mayor Steve Berman came in third with about 18 percent.
I have not blogged about the Gilbert race because I am the general consultant for Lewis and I have kept clients out of my blog to this point. But I’m a happy camper tonight. This shows what a real grassroots campaign can do to cut through the noise of a crowded field. There were a few super stars (other than John and his wife LaCinda) who made this happen: Chad Heywood, who managed the campaign, Jill Geigle and Lori Wood who repeated their stellar performance from the Yes on 102 campaign to make sure that the volunteer phone banks never went quiet and Miranda Culver who helped keep the volunteers coming to the phones.
I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in campaign meetings, seminars, candidate trainings, etc. and heard high-priced “expert” consultants dismiss the importance of phone banks in campaigns. I have always enjoyed the vindication of wins that come from not straying from that strategy. It got John Shadegg elected in his first primary, it got Tom Coburn elected to the U.S. Senate, it pushed the Prop. 102 initiative into double digits, and now it put John Lewis firmly in the pole position for the run-off.
John is a stellar candidate, a wonderful man, and he’s going to make a fantastic Mayor.