Rather than react to a bunch of blog posts individually, I thought I’d collect my thoughts in a single entry.
1. The alleged conservative consensus in favor of the individual mandate: In addition to the points Phil makes, this talking point ignores the political context of the time. The Clinton health care plan contained an employer mandate. The Republican establishment and many moderate Democrats were casting about for an alternative that would avoid this job-destroying policy, and many of them grabbed on to the individual mandate. (“Well, if the state can make you buy car insurance…”)
But Phil Gramm’s alternative health care bill didn’t contain an individual mandate. Neither did the bill championed by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), both of which were more popular with conservatives than the Chafee-Dole plan. In any event, you could find an even larger number of liberals — half of the Democrats in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, much of the Clinton foreign-policy establishment, and the New Republic — who supported the Iraq war circa 2002-03 than conservatives who did much to promote the individual mandate. I’d further argue that more liberals reversed themselves on the war becase it became politically toxic to agree with George W. Bush. That said, I do agree past conservative support for the individual mandate reflects poorly on conservatives — the conservatives who supported the mandate.
2. Sargent Shriver: His death having been mentioned by Aaron, I thought it was worth noting that Shriver was the last pro-lifer to grace the national Democratic ticket.
3. Joe Lieberman: Although his 2006 Democratic primary defeat was a short-lived victory for the netroots, Lieberman was still in the catbird’s seat: he was backed by most independents, nearly 40 percent of Democrats, and 70 percent of Republicans. So he was the heavy favorite for the general election as an independent. But he always would have had a tough time if the Republicans had run an even semi-serious candidate. Since being reelected, Lieberman has managed to alienate left, right, and center. If the retirement reports are accurate, this is likely what made a 2012 reelection campaign untenable.
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