We all define ourselves by our enemies -- but it can be taken too far.
While most politicians portray themselves as actors on a grand stage, others try harder to convince us that they are no better than we are, of middling station and modest self-regard. Republicans, always conscious of their party's white-shoe past and continued advocacy for the most fortunate, work particularly hard to communicate their folksy ordinariness. Some do it more convincingly than others, but all know it's a key ingredient of political success.
Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But if science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that any sufficiently advanced technology will inevitably rise up to enslave us. So if you want to get ready for the day when your Roomba declares that maybe it’s time for you to start crawling around on the floor sucking up dust, it might be a good idea to evaluate the Republican and Democratic approaches to this problem.
The last thing Democrats needed, with reform still not passed, was any kind of health-care controversy. Yet that's just what they got when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force came out with a new set of guidelines on breast cancer screening, pushing back the suggested age for regular mammograms from 40 to 50. The uproar over the recommendation demonstrates a lot of the problems with how we deal with health care. It shows how opportunistic politicians can be -- the GOP, champions of women's health! -- and how as a country we have an inherent bias toward more health care, whether or not it's better health care.
A few months back, I wrote a column titled "The Ten Dumbest Arguments Against Health Care Reform." But now I feel bad, because I missed the single dumbest argument, which those opposed to reform seem to have put at the center of their case against it. And here it is: The bill is really long!
We’ve had to endure one Republican after another decrying the length of the bill, holding up big printed copies of the bill, demanding that people read the whole bill out loud … enough already. You made your point. It’s really long.
"We campaign in poetry. But when we're elected we're forced to govern in prose," said Mario Cuomo, then-governor of New York, in a 1985 speech. "And when we govern -- as distinguished from when we campaign -- we come to understand the difference between a speech and a statute. It's here that the noble aspirations, neat promises and slogans of a campaign get bent out of recognition or even break as you try to nail them down to the Procrustean bed of reality."