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Jewish World Review July 3, 2003 / 3 Tamuz, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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At moment of truth, Hillary turns backwards


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The very essence of President Clinton's approach to domestic problems was his willingness to compromise to remove the political footballs both parties liked to kick around at election time and get something concrete accomplished instead.

By balancing the budget, reforming welfare and passing important anti-crime legislation, he boldly took potentially lucrative campaign issues away from both his partisans and his opponents and left historic achievements behind in their place.

The Senate Democrats faced just such a decision June 27: whether to preserve intact their key election issue, prescription drugs for the elderly, or accept legislation that went far — but not all the way — toward accomplishing their goal. The resulting vote separated the partisans from the patriots.

The former, eager to win elections, decided to try to kill any real progress in the hopes of harvesting the votes of needy elderly. The latter, conscious that history hung in the balance, decided to seize the historic opportunity to relieve the anxiety and pain of America's elderly and vote for what amounts to half-price drugs.

Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) led the way by insisting on taking half a loaf. When President Bush abandoned the traditional Republican effort to emasculate Medicare by transforming it into a private insurance program, Kennedy and Daschle recognized the historic nature of Bush's concession and realized that such a chance to move ahead may not come again.

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But Hillary Clinton chose to remain among the extreme partisans. After the failure of her healthcare initiative of 1993-94, we had all assumed that she had modified her Maoist all-or-nothing approach and was committed to accepting incremental change. In that spirit, she backed the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill for portable health benefits, even though it fell far short of the utopia she had designed the year before.

But now, breaking with fellow Democrat Charles Schumer (the senator who really is from New York), she has opted to obstruct progress and deny the elderly any relief at all so as to keep the partisan issue alive. Perhaps she will take time out from her $8 million book tour to reflect on how hard it must be for the elderly to pay for prescription drugs without any federal assistance.

Had Bush demanded fundamental changes in Medicare and insisted on using the elderly's need for medicine to drive them to HMOs or other private insurance plans and demolish fee-for-service Medicare, Hillary would have been right to vote no. But once Bush agreed to put prescription drug coverage under traditional Medicare and advocated a package similar in total cost to that urged by the Democrats, the justification for her opposition vanished.

House Democrats marched in their usual lockstep to the beat of their campaign committee to kill the compromise plan so as to keep the issue going for two more years. The ultraconservative House Republicans voted for the purist ideology to continue the assault on Medicare begun by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in the mid-'90s.

Both House Democrats and Hillary would rather sacrifice the prescription drug benefit to make one last attempt to win votes on Election Day. The ultraconservatives would give them up to push their revisionist view of Medicare. But last Friday was the day that separated the realists from the ideologues, the pragmatists from the opportunists, the sincere from the political. Why could Hillary not accept what Kennedy, Schumer, and Daschle found acceptable?

In the ongoing dialogue between Hillary's head and heart, between her pragmatic understanding of the need to compromise and her impulsive support for sweeping and radical change, the heart won. When she runs for president in 2008, couching herself as a pragmatic moderate, let's all remember that when the chips were down, she voted to keep kicking the political football rather than give elderly federal assistance in buying medicine.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business" Comment by clicking here.

Up

06/27/03: And now the dominos begin to fall
06/25/03: W's triangulation
06/23/03: Presidents often fall victim to their own success: Some advice for the president
06/18/03: Times not a-changing
06/13/03: Why did Hillary write the book?
06/11/03: Will the Rev go rogue?
06/05/03: Napoleon's maneuvers at Austerlitz have nothing on prez's
06/02/03: Prez's tax-cut catch-22 for Dems
05/29/03: Liberal author documents Clinton's wasted second term
05/16/03: Early Democrat handicapping for 2004
05/14/03: Gephardt: AWOL
04/30/03: Prez can lose
04/25/03: My message to Putin: Call President Bush
04/23/03: NO OIL FOR BLOOD
04/21/03: The war that network news lost in Iraq
04/15/03: Media meltdown
04/10/03: Giving government a good name
04/03/03: Polls' message to Bush: Relax and win the war
03/31/03: Bomb as you need
03/28/03: The strong grow weak through inhibition
03/26/03: Carping pessimism of TV anchors and interviewers fails to give Americans a sense of defeatism
03/17/03: Poll: Get on with it
03/13/03: It's time for U.S. to play hardball at U.N.
03/10/03: The whole (Hispanic) world is watching
03/07/03: Anti-war errors
03/05/03: Domino theory II: Toppling Mideast despots
03/03/03: Europe's triangulators: Chirac and Blair
02/27/03: Invasion? More like a coup
02/21/03: The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility
02/19/03: Old Europe's last hurrah
02/14/03: Corzine throws down gauntlet on Wall St. fraud
02/12/03: An exile deal for Saddam
02/07/03: The Dems give up the House
02/05/03: France: Saddam's ally
02/03/03: War critics will suffer
02/30/03: Even by Clinton standards, it's sheer chutzpah
01/24/03: Rebirth of the balanced budget Republican
01/22/03: Next to Bubba, Dubya's got it good
01/16/03: End racism in affirmative action
01/13/03: The new swing voter
01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2002, Dick Morris