As longtime readers know, I am related to The Swing Voter, which is to say, my mother is usually a surprisingly reliable barometer of public sentiment. She loved the speech and thinks Republicans need to put something real on the table. She was shocked and appalled by the Joe Wilson booing. Until we get more reliable polls, I would assume that this was the general sentiment among independents. - Megan McArdle
I agree with Megan's mother on both counts. I didn't see the Obama speech, but the big controversy over Rep. Joe Wilson crudely interrupting the President can't help. No one is afraid of some old guy in a funny hat at a town hall meeting. But, a typical voter might very well be skeptical of an elected official who lacks enough self-control to keep basic decorum. In a slightly different context, Jon Henke gets it exactly right here, especially in the way cites the reasons William F. Buckley purged the John Birch Society out of mainstream conservatism. In short, we must attempt to demonstrate to the public at large that we ought to be governing.
Which, come to think of it, is a useful guideline for handling the substance of health care reform as well. First, that the status quo in health care system is not very good, so we have lots of opportunities to propose improvements to it that we're willing to be held accountable for. And more important than that, that we don't have to accept the liberals' framework for health care reform in the name of political feasibility. We should put together our proposals as if we were the governing majority, because if we handle this right we very well may be soon enough.