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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Blessed Chaos, and Cursed Chaos

Sorry for the lack of posts, but the last few days have been absorbed with the blessed chaos of an extended family Christmas involving complex human and zoological logistics, travel across the Southland, screwed-up delivery orders of presents, and in my own case, an attack of acute bronchitis. I only have one political point to make today: adding to the chaos, I’ve been trying to sign up my mother-in-law for the Medicare Rx drug benefit, which her current insurer is forcing her to undertake under penalty of massive premium increases. And as anyone who’s dealt with this particular beast can tell you, the new program is about as easy to navigate as The Name of the Rose. I know a fair amount about Medicare, and health insurance generally, but still, I’m terrified that I’m making serious mistakes. I cannot imagine what this is like for anyone without internet access or a rudimentary knowledge of the new system. I gather millions of seniors are depending on their pharmacists for guidance, which would be fine except for the fact that a number of drugstore chains are sponsoring or cosponsoring plans themselves, creating all sorts of conflicts of interest. And knowing the extent to which Karl Rove and company originally thought of this thing as a surefire political winner, it’s almost inconceivable that the administration has let the new benefit become such a nightmare–inconceivable, at least, until you remember its handling of Hurricane Katrina and the reconstruction of Iraq.I know some Democrats get angry at me for continuing to stress the Bush administration’s incompetence, instead of attributing every bone-headed move to corruption or pure malice. Lord knows I’ve written a lot about Republican corruption, and its ideological roots. But in the end, a gigantic and debt-ridden federal government that cannot even give away new benefits without creating a virtual parody of both public- and private-sector bureaucracy has blurred the lines between incompetence and malfeasance to the point where it’s a distinction without a difference.

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