Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: The president and his party passed historic health care reforms, but are being pressed into a new battle to convince the public that their win was really a win for us all. That’s what I’m writing about in today’s letter to the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
So after some delays, it seems as if the House Republicans are finally ready to take the hack saw to your health care reform program with an eye toward, if not outright repealing it, at least sending it to the emergency room. Politically it looks like their chances of producing any real result are about as slim of my hopes for being called up to play in the Super Bowl. Even if they can drive it through the House, your party still has enough numbers in the Senate to beat back the revolution.
But, just as it is with so much in Washington, that doesn’t mean it might not hurt. Truth be told, if they make a hard enough stand on this issue they could not only force you to re-defend your victory, but they could also build up a belief among at least some voters that health care reform was never such a good idea to begin with.
President Carter told me years ago how much damage such movements can cause. He was, despite all the naysayers who have attacked his record over all these years, remarkably successful in passing legislation. “So why do people not realize that?” I asked him once at his library in Atlanta. He said something like, “We took a tremendous amount of criticism, and suffered a lot of attacks to win those victories. We endured months of negative headlines and then saw only a few days of reports on how we had triumphed. So long after they had forgotten the victory, voters remembered the controversy and laid it at our door.”
See what I am driving at? You face a double threat right now. You have to fight off the challenge itself which, as I said, should prove easy enough. But you must also truly create the sense that it is frivolous and does not represent the will of the American people. That is much harder, because in fairness there are still a great many voters who have doubts about how health care reform is going to play out for them.
You won the battle to pass this legislation. Now, you must win the more important battle of making voters believe it was worthwhile. Because in my experience, any law is vulnerable if too many doubt its efficacy. Hope your week is going well, and you are feeling healthy. And how about your Bears! Good luck to them, although I must say that Green Bay is looking like a juggernaut.
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