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On the Cusp of Losing John McCain and the Era of True Patriotism

July 24, 2017



Peggy Noonan, an Opinion Columnist with the WSJournal, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, an acclaimed historian, each recently referred to ailing Senator John McCain while decrying the legislative stalemate that is crippling our country and forestalling effective legislation.


Ms. Noonan, in her opinion piece, “Trump, ObamaCare and the Art of the Fail(7/20), wrote about the likelihood of history repeating itself, which would lead to the probable failure by Congress to enact long-term, meaningful improvement in health care:


“As for health care, Sen. John McCain, recovering from surgery, had it right: “One of the major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party-line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote,” Mr. McCain said in a statement. “As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure.” Congress, he said, must return to regular order, hold hearings, work across party lines, “and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors.”


Mr. Trump should have done this from the beginning.


Is there any legitimate hope of a bipartisan solution? It can be fairly argued, as Jim Geraghty does in National Review, that a Democratic Party that relentlessly lied to pass ObamaCare - you can keep your plan, you can keep your doctor, premiums will go down - is unlikely to consider conservative reform ideas in good faith. Democrats will press to keep individual and employer mandates and the status quo on Medicaid; they’ll want billions in higher subsidies to get insurers back into failing exchanges. Some will want more money to offset larger-than-expected claims for insurance companies in the state and federal marketplaces, some will want single-payer. Mr. Geraghty: “Conservatives who oppose government mandates, subsidies, bailout and state-run health care won’t like any of that.”


They won’t.


And yet no fix or improvement in health care is going to be broadly accepted unless it comes from both parties. No reform will be accepted unless it’s produced in a way that includes public hearings in which representatives make the case and explain it all. And any fix, because of America’s current political nature, will be temporary. Democratic presidential hopefuls will be campaigning two years from now on single-payer, whatever happens with this bill.”


Ms. Kearns Goodwin, appearing on “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams on MSNBC(7/19), addressed the shrinking presence of the World War II and Vietnam generations from public life and elected office – and the negative impact that this will have:


“It's not a coincidence that bipartisanship has been diminished with the departure of these people who fought for our country and who put mission first. You think of John McCain - he’s a fighter as Mr. Trump says he's also a fighter. But in the military, you fight with honor - you have rules of engagement, you have decorum. If we keep losing those people...without more military people going into the Congress, I think we've lost something very big.”


Financialish Take Away.   In their critically relevant remarks, Ms. Noonan and Ms. Goodwin praised the leadership that people like Sen. John McCain bring to federal government – something that is sorely lacking in both houses of Congress and in the Trump administration.


Ms. Noonan, quoting Sen. McCain, calls upon Congress to return to regular order, holding hearings, and working across party lines. Failure to do so – and that’s ever more likely while Sen. McCain remains out of action – will deprive this country of any real chance of achieving a permanent solution to health care.


Ms. Kearns Goodwin profoundly points to the loss of something very big – the departure of people, like Sen. McCain, who fought for our country and who put mission first. As the “era of true patriotism” diminishes, so too will honor, rules of engagement, and decorum diminish. It’s been on display in Washington for years – only more so these days. 


Hopefully, real leadership will rise and help bring a common sense of purpose to government.