Saturday, September 5, 2009

Understanding your opponents, or not

John Carney writes at The Business Insider:

The Obama administration "expended great effort to line up the support of health-care insurers, pharmaceutical makers and care providers, believing that by keeping them around the table, they could win over Republicans and stop the kind of industry-led attacks that helped sink the Clinton plan," writes the Journal team.

It was supposed to be a simple formula. Win over the health care industry shepherd, and the Republican will follow like sheep. But it didn't work.

What seems to have gone wrong can be described as a failure of the imagination: Obama's administration just never believed Republicans would stand up for their limited government principles if that meant opposing business interests. They were apparently assuming that Republicans and conservatives could be won over by winning over "business interests," as if free market and anti-government positions were just rhetorical cover for policy making at the behest of business.

If what he writes is correct, liberals really do not understand conservatives at all. Maybe that is why the two sides so often seem to be talking past each other.

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