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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Kristol, Docs and Cops

Perhaps it’s a mistake to take seriously anything Bill Kristol says on a subject remotely connected with health reform, given his eagerness to reprise the partisan thug routine he played in 1993 and 1994, which pretty much created his later career. But his snarky reaction today to President Obama’s press conference last night, entitled “Obama Attacks Docs and Cops,” is hard to ignore, and will probably inspire other conservatives to equally ridiculous talking points.
Kristol expresses contemptuous credulity at Obama’s idea that doctors don’t always pursue the best diagnosis or treatment regimens, and suggests it’s all a ploy to justify “a government panel that will save money by restricting care.”
For a health care “expert,” Kristol sure isn’t paying much attention if he thinks docs today don’t have to tailor their every action to private health care plan rules, primary care “gatekeepers,” hospital managers, managed care organizations, and a host of other players. And given past GOP reliance on various strategies for “restricting care” to hold down costs (e.g., the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee, created by congressional Republicans, that Obama wants to beef up), it’s more than a bit disingenuous for Kristol to play the demagogue in defending the absolute sovereignty of physicians or suggesting they don’t make errors that risk lives and cost a lot of money.
(For a brief assessment of what Obama actually said on encouraging “good medicine,” and why it was important, see my post for the Progressive Policy Institute today).
As for Obama’s “attack on cops,” please give me a break. Obama explicitly conditioned his remarks about the Gates incident on his understanding of the facts. Anyone who isn’t sympathetic with someone who’s been arrested in his or her own house for “disturbing the peace” in the midst of a false allegation of breaking and entering said house must be one of those “elitists” that Obama’s always being accused of consorting with. No, the President shouldn’t have used the word “stupidly,” and if it turns out he’s wrong about the facts, he should say so and apologize. But I suspect Kristol’s solidarity with the Cambridge Police is about as genuine as his championship of doctors’ privileges.

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