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McConnell on Obama’s Coming Health Care Address: No Matter

Via Roll Call, here’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) telling reporters Wednesday that President Obama’s looming heath reform address to Congress will have little sway over Republicans who oppose the plan:

“I don’t think the problem is messaging,” McConnell said Wednesday in a conference call. “The problem is what he’s trying to sell. I think there is a serious blowback and a negative reaction across the country to what they are proposing.”

Two thoughts. (1) Everything in Washington is messaging. As James Mongan, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare, said Monday, even controversial proposals like individual insurance mandates can be successful when framed within a context that’s acceptable to the public. And Republicans, having not-too-long-ago sold an idea as bad as the Iraq War with a messaging campaign that imagined Baghdad as a threat to Boise, know this better than anyone.

And (2) Obama’s speech, while being staged on Capitol Hill, isn’t really intended to sell health reform immediately to Republicans, who appear dead set on denying the Democrats a political victory regardless of the proposal eventual put forward. Indeed, it was Republicans who floated the lies about the Democrats’ bill promoting abortions and euthanasia, then turned around and pointed to the inevitable outcry over those imaginary provisions as justification for opposing the broader reforms. Rather — and more importantly — Obama’s speech is aimed at an American public that’s grown more skeptical of health reform over the past few weeks in hopes that voters will turn around and pressure their congressional representatives to support the plan. Even McConnell would have a tough time opposing the Democrats’ reforms if Kentucky voters came out in overwhelming favor of the bill.

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