Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Pyrrhic Victories for Both Parties

If and when the ACA finally works, what will be left of Barack Obama’s power to make things happen? If and when a Republican finally retakes the White House, what will remain of the GOP’s ability to govern?

Both parties should step back and consider what happened to the Greek King Pyrrhus who defeated the Romans but lost so much in doing so that his name is enshrined in history as a symbol for losing by winning.

Pyrrhic victories loom for both parties in Washington’s war of attrition. In California, Republicans are reduced to putting up a fake site to mislead constituents looking for health care. In the White House, the President’s staff keeps taking hits for inadequacy, tries to bribe insurers to let people keep their policies and braces for another Darrell Issa attack on “lies” about Obamacare.

As approval ratings plummet for both President and Congress, David Brooks asks Americans an apt question, “How much emotional and psychic space should politics take up in a normal healthy brain?”

His answer: “Government is the hard work of creating a background order, but it is not the main substance of life. As Samuel Johnson famously put it, ‘How small, of all that human hearts endure,/That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.’ Government can set the stage, but it can’t be the play.”

As the season of peace on earth and good will approaches, it may be past time to tune out tinpot politicians and turn TV sets into those Christmas eve fireplaces for the whole month.

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