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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wishing it doesn't make it true...

...But doing it does.

A recent letter to the editor in the Arizona Republic boldly complained "If the House of Representatives agrees to deem President Barack Obama's health-care reform bill passed without taking a vote, then I'd like to deem my 2009 federal income tax paid without having to write a check."

You can, Ms Oeste! You can! Just have someone else do it for you. If they do it, you can deem it done and take credit for it. If they don't, well it's still on you, so you didn't really shirk any responsibilities now, did you?

It is troubling that people can be so ignorant of how their government works but still demand that their voices be heard. Say something that actually makes sense and your leaders might hear it. I think a lot of people are going to either be confused when they hear the vote tally or assume the procedure to "deem it passed" was not used. How sad.

But the Democrats are using a strategy that only works for people who understand the policy and the procedure. What they seem to not understand is that the people they need to convince have no clue! It's a fine like to walk, having a serious conversation with people who have no clue without talking down to them. A better strategy would have been to refuse to discuss the procedure and just say "we don't know yet" until the amendments are finalized and they have "a promise" from their colleagues in the Senate. People understand "a promise"! If someone blames them for voting for the unfixed bill... if the fixes are the law, then who cares. "I voted to get rid of the corn-husker kickback, " they could say, " and we won that for you." If the fixes do not become law, they could blame their Senate colleagues for breaking the promise, but better yet, why not blame the Senate Republicans for refusing to take up the fixes? "I voted out the corn-husker kickback," they could say, "but the Senate Republicans wouldn't even consider it. Apparently for all their negativity, they actually like the corn-husker kickback." If the so-called corn-husker kickback is the law of the land and I am a representative on record voting against it, it's a plausible defense.

So the Democrats backed down from "deem and pass" on Sunday. I've had a to argue with too many Democrats about this. They think it was a good move because it made the issue moot and showed courage to do it straight up without the political cover and/or because it knocked the Republican propaganda machine off its game for a little while because they were planning to have that talking point for a while longer [it seems like Boehner's speech was originally written with that talking point in mind, so it kinda worked]. I somewhat disagree with both arguments, because both of these assume that the individuals who believed the misinformation to begin with have half a clue. They do not. The talking point remains firmly established among the rank and file. The fact that it is now "even more false" means nothing to them because to them, it is still true.

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