Jonathan Bernstein thinks Democrats are making a mistake by thinking they can quiet Republican attacks by passing a pared down healthcare bill that everyone agrees with. As he reminds us:
Democrats can be assured that Republicans will attack them, regardless of what they do....That's politics. It's how partisan politics is played.
....Don't believe me? Republicans are attacking Democrats for taking away people's guns, even though the Democrats basically surrendered on that issue fifteen years ago. They are attacking Democrats for cutting Medicare and for allowing Medicare to grow so fast that it'll bankrupt the nation — sometimes in the very same speech (I've seen it in the same paragraph). Republicans have, repeatedly, attacked Barack Obama for not using a word he uses all the time. Last I heard, they were still attacking the Democrats for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, something that as far as I know not a single elected Democrat has any interest in doing. No, it didn't make sense, but if they don't have attacks ready that make sense, they'll use ones that don't.
On the News Hour last night, David Brooks and Mark Shields both agreed that congressional Democrats were in a state of panic over Republican attacks. Within the Democratic caucus, they reported, "it's every man for himself."
Well, guess what: it's not going to stop no matter what kind of healthcare bill you pass — or even if you pass no healthcare bill at all. So buck up, pass the Senate bill, fix it in reconciliation, and then get out on the stump and defend it. You don't win elections by cowering, you win them by getting stuff done and making sure your constituents know about it. So get cracking.