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WWRD?

1:04 PM, Aug 18, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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What Would Rove Do? James Carville took a shot Sunday:

"What about this?," Carville said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, "Suppose they pass a House bill that can get 56 Senate Democrats." Then, Carville suggested, instead of using reconciliation, a special budgetary maneuver in Senate procedure that frustrate GOP attempts to mount a filibuster, Democrats should call for a vote. "And make [Republicans] filibuster it. But the old kinda way is that they filibuster it and make'em go three weeks and all night and [Democrats] will be there the whole time.

"Then, you say, ‘They're the people that stopped it. We had a majority of Democrats. We had a good bill. They stopped it.'"

The Democratic strategist also rejected any comparison between the Clinton administration's failed efforts at health care reform in 1994 and the Obama administration's efforts now.

Democrats "pulled the plug," Carville said, on health care reform in August of 1994, just months before the mid-term election where Republicans took control of the House. Now, "this is August of the year before the election," Carville said.

"Make'em filibuster it and then run against a do-nothing Congress [in 2010]," the former aide to Bill Clinton and longtime ally of both Clintons told CNN's John King.

That strikes me as ludicrous -- even if Democrats are able to paint Republicans as obstructionist, they still can't explain how Democrats could be so incompetent as to allow the Republicans to obstruct them despite their huge majorities in both chambers. You got outmanuevered by Jim DeMint and that's what you're going to run on? In any case, cynic that I am, I personally have a pretty good idea of a strategy Republicans could pursue over the next four years assuming the Democrats do pass some health care package, which still seems pretty likely despite all the confusion in Washington.

1. Scare the hell out of the American people and run against the health care reform in 2010 and 2012.

2. See above.

That's my whole plan, but I think it could work. Liberals seem to be under the impression that health care reform will be like a new entititlement, and that Republicans will run against it at their own peril -- as was the case with Social Security reform in 2005. And they may be right, but not until this monstrous bill actually goes into effect some time in 2013. Which means that for the next four years, Republicans will be able to say whatever they want about the health care reforms that were passed but won't come into effect for years. Republicans will be able to come up with another "death panel" every week.

The bottom line is that people don't understand Obamacare because it's really complicated (it's now pretty clear that Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress don't understand their own proposals either, though the CBO keeps sending them helpful notes explaining things). That confusion has helped Republicans over the past few months as they fight to kill the bill, but if Democrats do pass something, people will still be confused. It would be political malpractice if Republicans didn't exploit that confusion and use it to find their way out of the wilderness.