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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Obama's Stalingrad, Not Waterloo

Jim DeMint (R-SC) famously said that health care would be Barack Obama's Waterloo.

But Waterloo probably wasn't the best analogy, in hindsight.

Waterloo was a short but decisive battle. The health care fight has turned out to be more like the battle of Stalingrad.

The battle of Stalingrad was a bloody, grinding battle over several months during World War II in which superior forces were ground down by weaker, but more highly motivated forces.

Stalin's Order No. 227, Ни шагу назад! ("Not a step back"), came to epitomize the determination not to give in despite overwhelming odds.

While the Soviet forces ultimately prevailed in holding out in a small portion of the city and then counterattacking, land was not the decisive measure of victory. The battle drained German forces and was a turning point in the war. Even had the Germans held the city, it would have been a loss because of the cost in men and material.

Stalingrad, in hindsight, was a fight the Germans should not have picked.

So too the attempt to restructure one-sixth of the economy through overwhelming government power is a fight Obama should not have picked with the American people.

We have bled jobs while Obama has tried to force through a program the American people do not want. Had Obama's health care agenda had popular support, the legislation would have been signed into law long ago.

The health care fight has drained the Obama administration and agenda, and the entire Democratic Party. Right now, the Democrats are pushing forward only because they are in too deep. Having continued the battle despite the lack of popular support, Democrats have left themselves no way out.

There is no path to victory for Democrats in this battle. To fail to pass "something" will be a mortal blow to Obama's prestige; to pass "something" will be a mortal blow to Democrats in Congress in the November elections.

For Democrats, health care defeat has become defeat, and health care victory has become defeat.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that much is clear.

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  1. My worry is that if he simply taxed the rich a little more it would have passed. I mean, who wouldn't want the option of free health care? www.starvethemachine.net

  2. Great analogy. Both Hitler and Napoleon underestimated the Russian people and the Russian winter. And the democrats keep underestimating the American people. Will they ever learn??

  3. A nice thought, but are people really going to stay motivated by this long enough to repeal it if they pass it. Sure, the Dems are screwed either way, but they can still take the rest of us with them. I'm glad to see Intrade is only hovering around 50%, but that is still too close for comfort. This will be a defeat for the Democratic party, but the biggest victory for the left wingers in decades, and their victories are largely permanent. Too many Republicans are too interested in getting in power and then being progressive-lite. Entitlements aren't even defanged most of the time. Failing to fund these awful programs are used against Republicans and somehow it works. This is where my optimism breaks down.

  4. Prof. Jacobson,

    If health care passes, we do lose, and Obama does win.

    There is no way this thing gets repealed.

    This is why we must call our representatives EVERY SINGLE DAY. ALL OF US.

  5. Well,

    That would put the Dems in the role as the German Nazi's and put the Tea Partiers in the role of the Russian Communists.

    As a Tea Partier - communist is 1 slur never uttered toward me or our group ;)

  6. @Justin - I've made the point in prior posts that passage of Obamacare puts in place the bureaucratic infrastructure needed to get us to a single payer system, which is the ultimate goal of Obama. But there also is no denying that the Democratic Party loses either way because of this fight. For Obama, there are almost three years left (at a minimum) so the damage means less to him in the short run. I agree that Obama would rather pass his HC proposal and lose the Congress, than not pass it.

  7. A Republican loss could become the next Alamo. It would be a lost battle, but it would also be the rallying cry that leads to victory in the overall war against totalitarianism. I'm probably being too optimistic.

  8. This BILL ranks up there with the Coercive Acts of 1774.

    IF (and that's a BIG and unlikely IF) Obamacare manages to weasel its way into law.... Demcare supporters who never bothered to read a single jot or tittle of the Bill would come to the sudden realization that the 30 million uninsured would NOT be covered until (the deferred year) 2013 but that a slew of new taxes would become effective immediately.

    And in the Alan Grayson school of thought, that would make Congressional and Senate Dems responsible for (45,000 x 3) unnecessary 135,000 deaths.

    I believe we still have a Republic which is more than capable of forcing the retreat of Obamacare and a citizenry motivated enough to pursue and annihilate its perpetrators in November.

  9. Prof Jacobsen:
    Good post, I always enjoy reading your viewpoint.
    I agree with you -- Stalingrad is indeed a more appropriate battle for comparison.
    We have to keep up pressure -- even the Progressives admit this is a lousy bill and want to start over; hence, Obama is reframing this as battle for the legitimacy of the entire Progressive agenda. A clever appeal, but one that I hope does not work.

  10. The Stalingrad analogy only works if there is a counterattack the cuts off the besieging forces. The Russians kept most of the German combat forces penned up in the city itself by feeding in just enough troops to hold part of the city, while building up fresh forces to break through the overextended lines held further back by weak auxiliary troops.

    Like the Democrats, the Germans discounted the Red Army's ability to collect and equip the forces to launch such an attack. The problem is, where are the fresh forces being positioned to cut off the troops trapped in the pocket? The Russians were able to exploit the German position because they thought beyond the battle for the city itself. I would like to see some evidence that the Republican party, which at this stage is the only viable alternative to the Democrat party, is capable of planning up to the next election, never mind past it.

    The enemy is fixed, but is there a strategy to encircle him, to cut him off and destroy him in place?

  11. We need to keep reminding the wafflers (some Republicans are in that category - the RINOs, like the poor are always with us) that they are facing unemployment come November 2010! Keep hammering that home until even the most brainless among them internalizes the reality of it! There will be no rescue.

  12. If we lose health care the dictatorship moves on. What would Hitler do if he won Stalingrad and the Siberian reinforcements from the eastern front had not arrived in time? Hitler would have been able to reposition his troops better for the coming assault. And so to will Obama be able to reposition his SS troops better if he wins the health care bill before the November elections.

  13. Obama is like Paulus---confident but inexperienced, inflexible and unable to adjust to changing realities on the battlefield. The question is, do we have a current incarnation of Gen. Chuisov, the hero-defender of Stalingrad?

  14. Neither Waterloo nor Stalingrad really fits.

    Gettysburg, however, is pretty close: a tragedy of errors and lost opportunities, failure to capitalize on early advantage, and an almost pig-headed, arbitrary attitude toward attacking the enemy head-on instead of going around him and luring him into a battle on better ground? Yeah, that pretty much sums up Pelosi, Reid and BHO's failure to ram socialized medicine down Americans' throats.