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Has the GOP blown health care?
Why the raucous town hall protests may be undermining conservatives’ chances of derailing health-care reform
 

Conservatives are “blowing their chance” to derail the Democrats’ health-care reform, said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic. Repeating a mistake “the left patented during the Bush administration,” the “organized right” has “discredited” itself by coming on too strong and crazy. Americans “remain anxious and confused” about the health-care overhaul, but the irate GOP activists who show up at town halls to exploit those fears are too “easy to mock.”

Those are “good points,” said Mickey Kaus in Slate, and ones you’d want to make “if you were, say, a Democratic aide talking to Marc Ambinder.” If President Obama is to turn around the “already too weak” backing for health-care reform, he has to build support—a handful of “uncouth and even thuggish” GOP activists may turn off voters, but they won’t make them embrace reform.

In fact, the “raucous” town hall protests do pose “a growing threat to reform,” said David Gergen in CNN. The “high decibel” GOP opposition rules out a bipartisan health-care bill, and it might make moderate Democrats unwilling to back a strong “Democratic-only bill.” That doesn’t mean “reform is dying,” but it does increase the chances we’ll get “Health Care Lite,” if anything.

Maybe—or perhaps the “extreme, angry” protests will cause a backlash, said Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice. A “confrontational, angry, and demonizing talk radio political culture” works fine with Republicans, but it “can only cause a counter-reaction in wavering liberal Democrats who began to sour on Obama and independent voters” looking for a serious debate.

There’s actually a lot we can agree on in reforming health care, said Conor Friedersdorf in The Daily Beast, and it would be better—and more effective—to tackle changes like universal coverage and costs individually. Sure, there’s a “deliberate, shameful GOP misinformation campaign,” but it’s found “fertile ground” because Obama is chasing the glory of “comprehensive” reform.

 

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