Sunday, May 22, 2011

How do you run against a pragmatist?

This is the question facing GOP presidential aspirants (and perhaps why so many of them are bowing out). First of all, lets define "pragmatist."

Pragmatist: a person who takes a practical approach to problems and is concerned primarily with the success or failure of her actions.

A pragmatist isn't so concerned about fighting an ideological battle, but in finding solutions that work. Its clear that President Obama doesn't disagree with GOP policies as a matter of ideology. After all, an individual mandate as part of health care reform was originally a Republican idea. Obama rejected it during the campaign. But when he got to the specifics of crafting health care reform that would work, he realized the error of his ways and changed his mind. That's what a pragmatist does.

Its interesting to watch Republicans try to figure out a tactic to run against someone like that. On the issue of health care reform, it looks as if any Republican who has actually tried to be pragmatic about the issue has come to the same conclusion. We're very aware of what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts as Governor. And now, we learn that Jon Huntsman reached the same conclusion as Governor of Utah.

As soon as Huntsman was sworn in, the administration convened a group on health care to hash out a reform plan. They met for regular dinners at the house of a supporter who lived near the governor’s residence. The group concluded, Sundwall said, that you couldn’t do reform without a mandate.

The governor, he added, signed on to the idea. “He was supportive,” Sundwall said. “It was something he would have liked to have happened.”

So what's a Republican to do? Your choices are either to join with President Obama in agreeing that mandates are necessary or flip-flop and lie. Of course, it looks like Huntsman is choosing the later - how else can you be a viable candidate to Republicans at this point?

We've seen this same thing on issue after issue. The other big one these days is the Republican lie about what created our deficits. As just a reminder about that, here's the truth.

One final example for today is the twisting of what Obama actually said about Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. Most of us have already heard about the dispute over his language on the 1967 borders. But Steve Benen finds another doosey from none other than the master-deciever Karl Rove. Here's the quote from Rove.

[L]ook, the language is there. I mean, when President Obama talks about Israel ‘occupying,’ you know, ‘you can’t have a vibrant democracy as long as you depend upon occupation’ — that’s the language of the left. That is the language of those who hate Israel and why he adopts it is beyond me.

And Benen's response.

I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, Obama was practically asking for it when he said last week, “There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish a Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people.”

Wait, did I say Obama said that? Actually that was George W. Bush — Rove’s former boss — in 2008.

The truth is that the truth is not something the Republicans can employ in their battle to take on President Obama. That's the gauntlet that a pragmatist lays down against their opponents.

So all we have to do in the 2012 campaign is tell the truth. And all the Republicans have are lies, distortions and divisions.

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