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March 21, 2010

How Will the Health Care Vote Affect National Security?
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

More than you think, actually.

1.  An international boost. Israeli, Russian and Chinese leaders and elites have all let it be known more or less quietly that they treat Obama as if he is weak abroad because they perceive him as weak at home.  I heard a fabulous story about a senior Iranian official explaining off-the-record to a Westerner how Obama wouldn't accomplish anything this year "in analysis that would have sounded right at home on FOX."  Those elites follow American politics closely and will understand that this is a big, big win.  They'll also get the message that Obama doesn't go away easily.

2.  Momentum.  Internationally, it looks as if this long drawn  out process will close just before we finally get a new START Treaty, a mark of both serious steps down the road to reducing the nuclear threat and a success in renovating the US-Russian relationship.  That in turn will be followed by a signature Obama initiative, the 43-nation Nuclear Security Summit, which will build new momentum for international action against the supply side of nuclear materials.  After that, Iraq will confound the skeptics by putting a government together -- not elegantly, but successfully.

3.  Space and Oxygen.  As my colleague Paul Eaton discussed with the Times' Peter Baker earlier this weekend, many international issues have been off the agenda while health care burned bright.  There will be more bandwidth for other, merely vital, issues now -- from Afghanistan to foreign assistance reform to human rights and democratization.  This has a downside, though:  with the healthcare debate lost, the opponents of a sane, pragmatic foreign policy will have more oxygen to ramp up the volume on Iran and other issues. 

4.  Ambition.  Just the progress to this point threw Obama's approval rating back over 50%.  Progressives both in and outside government have been needing a little boost of energy.  This moment should give us lots of case studies about 1) how the Administration likes to work and will work when the crunch is on and 2) how to advocate to the Administration effectively -- and ineffectively.  (HT to Adam Serwer on that approval number -- and I know Adam's got plenty of ideas for putting the ambition to good use...)


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What is wrong with the American public in regard to this Healthcare bill?How can anyone in their right mind, vote for this outlandish bill. Its all smoke and mirrors, or to put it another way its hokus pokus. It won't even go into effect for 4 years. In the meantime you will be paying for coverage your not getting. Would you buy a car or a house and pay for it for 4 years before you can driver your car or move in to your house. Wake up and smell the coffee folks. Your being taken advantage of. Also they now have something on the books for amnesty for all the illegals, does that mean they will automatically on the insurance roles. Will they be allowed to go on unemployment right away, What will that do to our unemployment roles? We could have unemployment at 20% or higher.

Heather's back -- and that's good. But, but, but. . .

1. The idea that Israeli, Russian and Chinese leaders base their treatment of the US based upon internal US politics is without foundation, as would be their opposite. Foreign affairs of any country are based on that country's interests, not on other countries' internal affairs.

2. The link doesn't work. Reducing nuclear arms in accordance with the NPT looks dim, with Obama increasing the budget for nukes. The political future in Iraq also looks shaky.

3. My bet is on "the opponents of a sane, pragmatic foreign policy will have more oxygen to ramp up the volume on Iran and other issues" to everyone's detriment. It's not too much of an exaggeration to claim that every major US foreign policy action for some time now has been misdirected. More attention equals more interventions and more problems.

4. The link doesn't work, but selectively quoting Gallup, the most favorable poll on Obama's job performance (50% favorable), is weak. Rassmussen has him lower (47% approve 53% disapprove) and the RCP average is pretty even. The simple fact is that in a year Obama has converted a sixty point approval margin into a virtual dead heat, and the negative aspects of HCR (delay in coverage, Medicare cuts) have yet to hit home.

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