(15) Democrats lost Congress in 1994 because President Clinton failed to pass national health care.
I'm not sure if this is another example of the left's wishful-thinking method of analysis or if they're seriously trying to trick the Blue Dog Democrats into believing it. But I gather liberals consider the 1994 argument an important point because it was on the front page of The New York Times a few weeks ago in place of a story about Van Jones or ACORN.
According to a news story by Jackie Calmes: "In 1994, Democrats' dysfunction over fulfilling a new president's campaign promise contributed to the party's loss of its 40-year dominance of Congress."
That's not the way I remember it. The way I remember it, Republicans swept Congress in 1994 not because Clinton failed to nationalize health care, but because he tried to nationalize health care. HillaryCare failed because most Americans didn't want it. (For more on this, see "ObamaCare.")
Bill Clinton had run as an old-school, moderate Democrat and then, as soon as he got elected, immediately became Che Guevara. (What is it with all our black presidents and these bait-and-switch tactics?)
Instead of pursuing "mend it, don't end it" on welfare and no "middle-class tax hike" -- as Clinton promised during the campaign -- he raised taxes, signed ridiculous gun restrictions into law, enacted "midnight basketball" as the solution to urban crime, announced that he was putting gays in the military and let Hillary run riot over health care.
But just to check my recollection, I looked up the Times' own coverage of the 1994 congressional races.
Republicans won a landslide election in 1994 based largely on the "Contract With America," which, according to the Times, promised "tax cuts, more military spending and a balanced-budget amendment." Far from complaining about Clinton incompetently failing to pass health care, the Times reported that Republicans were "unabashedly claiming credit for tying Congress up in knots."
These claims were immediately followed by ... oh, what was that word again? Now I remember ...
It was almost as if the voters agreed with the Republicans in opposing Clinton's risky health care scheme, then voted accordingly.
The Times' own polling showed that two-thirds of voters believed that "government should be less involved in solving national problems" -- which doesn't sound to me like voters being huffy with Clinton for failing to stage a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy.
In a Hail Mary pass just before the election, President Clinton pulled Hillary off the health care beat. CNN's repository of liberal cliches, Bill Schneider, reported that Clinton was trying to calm voters by "removing the most visible symbol of the liberal tilt of the last two years, which is the first lady."
And what a morale boost for the Democrats that must have been! Kind of like firing the manager of a losing baseball team in the last week of the season.
Too late. Shouldn't have tried to socialize health care.
The life expectancy argument is so stupid even The New York Times hasn't made it -- except in news stories quoting others or in the ramblings of the Times' more gullible op-ed columnists. You mostly hear the life expectancy argument from Hollywood actresses and profoundly dumb Democrats, such as Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland.
Trying to evaluate the quality of a nation's health care by looking at life expectancy is like trying to estimate the birthrate by counting the number of flowers bought on Valentine's Day. (Or estimating future pregnancies of women with low self-esteem by adding up the total number of U.S. cities on a Bobby Brown tour and then multiplying by 2.)
There are a lot of ways to get to a pregnancy besides flowers or a Bobby Brown tour, and a lot of ways to die without ever setting foot in a doctor's office.
For example, more Americans are murdered with guns than in any other industrialized country. (And it would be even more without concealed-carry laws! See John Lott, "More Guns, Less Crime.") According to a 1997 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the homicide rate with firearms alone was 16 times higher in the U.S. than in 25 other industrialized countries combined.
That will tend to reduce the U.S.'s "life expectancy" numbers, while telling us absolutely nothing about the country's medical care. (I promise that if you make it to a hospital alive, you are more likely to survive a gunshot wound in the U.S. than any place else in the world.)
It's comparing apples and oranges to talk about life expectancy as if it tracks with a country's health care system. What matters is the survival rate from the same starting line, to wit, the same medical condition. Not surprisingly, in the apples-to-apples comparisons, the U.S. medical system crushes the welfare-state countries.
For the glorious details, see next week's column.